Is Your Dream Just a Metaphor for Your Ideal Work?

Finger Pointing To the MoonWhat do you want to be when you grow up?

Harold always answered the same way — architect.

From the time he was 6 years old, being an architect was all Harold wanted to do. He drew plans, made models, and took pictures of buildings.

When he was about 10 years old, he checked out a book on building forts from the library. It had pages and pages of plans for building different types of forts. Though he never actually built any, he loved going through and studying the plans.

When he tried to find a copy to buy, he discovered that it was out of print. So he told the library he lost it, paid the cost of the book (probably more then it was worth), and kept it.

A Dream vs. Reality

Harold never became an architect.

He began the path in college, but quickly realized he was more interested in the idea than the actual career. He liked the planning, models, and hands-on stuff. But not the reality of all the regulations and bureaucracy.

So today he makes custom furniture and stained glass windows. The dream of being an architect was just a metaphor for what he really wanted — to design and build beautiful structures with his own two hands.

A Finger Pointing To the Moon…

When pointing at the moon, it’s easy to get transfixed on the finger. But it’s just a pointer. The moon is the real target.

I thought I wanted to be a cartoonist — but what I really wanted was the freedom to do creative work on my own terms, and make a good living at it.

The would-be teacher becomes a highly-paid corporate training consultant. The would-be screenwriter becomes a master storyteller in the form of a marketing coach — using copy and presentations to tell his clients’ stories. The would-be dancer becomes an elite personal trainer.

The dreams we have can offer clues into what our ideal work may be (the moon), but we are so focused on the dream itself (the finger), that we lose sight of what we’re really after.

Your dreams may be trying to point something out to you.

Are you too focused on the finger to see what it is?