Because of the work I do, and the clients who are drawn to work with me, I am frequently confronted with some version of the following assertion:
I’ve come to realize that I’m not living my true calling. I know this because every time I’m involved in my true calling, I am lit up with excitement, and time just seems to fly by. But my true calling won’t pay the bills, and I can’t quit my current job in order to pursue what others have called a “pipe dream.”
It’s almost ridiculously common for people to automatically assume that their dreams of doing what they love are impractical or impossible, and therefore to shut the door on them. I, of course, am in the business of helping people open the door to their dreams instead. Providing a thorough, door-opening response to the above viewpoint would require that I write an entire book – which happens to be a very persistent “pipe dream” of my own – but let me share a few thoughts I have about it right now.
I always say that pipe dreams get a bad rap. So does wishful thinking. In the absence of dreams and wishes, we could not expand. We would be resigned to things just as they are, repeating our daily tasks over and over again without hope of change, growth or even forward movement.
Yet just as damaging as it is to trivialize our dreams by downgrading them to mere “pipe” dreams, it can be equally damaging to burden our precious dreams with the demand that they generate income for us right away. Dreams need time to incubate. They need room to grow. And they need lots of nourishment in the form of our own loving attention to them. They deserve our respect, our time and our energy, which are the elements that transform them from dreams or wishes to reality.
And not just any reality, but one that is actually fulfilling. What makes dreams essential to our lives is that they call us to growinto more and more of who we are, which is why we often speak of them in terms of being a calling. And while that label has almost as much baggage associated with it as “pipe dream” has – it can create an unnecessary sense of failure if we don’t think we know what our calling is – I love the notion of being called.
Being called is what stimulates our creative energy and momentum toward ever-higher expressions of our unique selves. It impels us to share our gifts and talents, both as a service to others and for our own joy. It lights us up and wakes us up; in a very real sense, it brings us to Life.
And the more alive we feel, the more we inspire others to shine their light. What better contribution can we make to the world than being a Light that inspires others to shine their own light?
I know you’ve heard all this before. And you may be thinking something along the lines of, “Well, that’s nice, but I’ve still got to pay the bills.”
Of course you do. We all do. But do you really think you came to this amazing planet, with all of your dreams and passions and talents, just to pay the bills? Isn’t there a richer, more vibrant experience you want to have while you’re here?
That’s what your dreams are for. They are meant to grow you into that kind of life. But here’s the thing:
Growing into your dreams means growing into the unknown.
And that means you cannot know, from where you currently are, that living your calling won’t pay the bills. You cannot know that it will. All you can know is that, in cutting yourself off from your dreams or your calling, you shut down your own vibrant life force. You close off the path to your greatest experiences of creativity, accomplishment, satisfaction and generosity. You imprison yourself within the walls of “working to pay the bills” rather than liberating yourself to see what becomes possible when you aim for a life far richer than one that merely pays the bills.
And here is something else. Honoring your dreams does more than call you forward into greater forms of self-expression. It demands that you cultivate the deepest level of trust you have ever known – trust in yourself, trust in your dreams as your guide to fulfillment, and trust in a loving Universe that is designed and poised to support your growth and happiness.
That includes financial support. While it’s true that not all callings translate into specific jobs or careers, it’s also true that the dreams in your heart, calling you forward, will translate into living from a new level of consciousness. At this higher level, you’ll have access to intuition, insights and impulses that guide you toward choices you didn’t even know you had. You’ll open yourself to synchronicities and opportunities that provide support in every form.
Living your calling will stretch you in unexpected ways, depending on your personal evolutionary path and your growth edge now. It will almost always challenge everything you’ve assumed up to this point about work and money. All of your limiting beliefs will rise to the surface for your acknowledgment and release. And that’s a really good thing.
You might finally learn how to graciously receive financial support from others – perhaps income from a working partner or a gift from a friend or an inheritance from a relative – which enables you to focus on your passion. Or it might teach you how essential it is to value your creative output and price it in a way that reflects its value. Or you might realize that most of the stress you experience in your current job simply dissolves as you learn how to live in the present moment without resistance, which then frees up tons of energy for your dreams.
Or all of the above. Or something else altogether.
The point is, living your calling isn’t about paying the bills. It’s about something far greater. It’s about trusting that, as you honor and cultivate the dream inside of you that longs for expression, the life force energy flowing through you will increase and expand.
It’s about understanding that everything is energy – including money – and as your own energy expands, you have greater access to the ideas and opportunities that will draw the money you need to you, through channels that you may have resisted up to now, or perhaps ones you didn’t even know existed.
Just a few days ago, a friend of mine told me about an ingenious arrangement someone she’d met at a conference had masterminded to generate stable and generous income for her nonprofit organization. It was a classic win-win idea arising from a commitment to integrity and service – and a firm belief in the value of her organization’s work.
My friend, whom I’ll call Lynn, has recently been through a series of challenges and life circumstances that left her feeling temporarily overwhelmed, exhausted and frustrated. Maybe even a little bit cynical. She was starting to doubt the financial stability of her own organization, which she had founded a few years ago in an act of great love. To say it is a calling would be an understatement.
And like all callings, it keeps calling Lynn to grow beyond her frustrations and doubts and limiting beliefs. It keeps asking her to trust more, not less, in what she knows in her heart of hearts. And then, in one of those sparkling moments of synchronicity, it draws to her this person with the inspired idea that reignites Lynn’s sense of possibility.
Callings are like that.
So rather than concluding that your calling is merely a pipe dream because, in this moment, you can’t see a way for it to pay your bills, dare to see it instead as a pipeline to your creativity, growth and fulfillment. Let it carry you, step by step, to awakened insights and a whole new level of trust in your true Self.
You don’t need to quit your job right away; you just need to quit ignoring your dreams. Your dreams matter because you matter. Don’t ever forget that.
I welcome your feedback!