The other day I was driving to meet a business friend for tea, when a song came on the radio and the words struck me to my core: “with dreams bursting at the seams.”
Immediately, I repeated the phrase out loud, because the rhyme was catchy, but also because it rang true.
I’ve been pursuing my dreams ever since I was a little girl, and they’ve always felt too big for me… or at least that’s how it felt looking at the rest of the world.
Growing up in a small rural town where there were more cows than people meant that I had a very small view of the world… until we got our first internet connection in my pre-teen years.
The internet opened me up to so many new ideas, people, and aspirations for what my life and career could look like. I realized that I didn’t need to stay small, that I could be different and dream big things for myself.
My appetite for achievement was whet.
I read about people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, and attended the top engineering school in the nation to learn software engineering. My dreams were growing, and I quickly realized that to achieve these dreams I had to work. Hard.
Undaunted, I rolled up my sleeves and developed my work ethic. I wasn’t the best programmer, and I didn’t always learn quickly, but I put in enough trial and error to graduate with honors and get a job offer at a Wall Street firm upon graduation.
Still, my dreams were of a different flavor than a prestigious job on Wall Street… I wanted to be my own boss, and I was willing to work hard to make that reality.
Once again, I rolled up my sleeves to dive into the business of starting a business. I wasn’t the best marketer or sales person, and it took me awhile to get the hang of things, but I put in enough hours and things started to take off in my business.
With every success, my appetite for more achievement grew. My dreams kept doubling, right alongside my triumphs.
Things were going really well, and I was good at working hard to keep the business growing. I had trained for this success, and learned that more hours and more effort led to more results…
My perception of myself was so tied into my work and my output that I had to stop and ask myself:
“Who am I when I’m not working?”
For so long, I’ve had this focus on making my dreams a reality. Getting there meant putting in the sweat equity. There’s do doubt that I’m grateful for my work ethic and my ability to make things happen…
But this identity of a “successful worker” or even “successful business person” has led me to lose sight of the bigger picture in life itself.
This became really clear to me over the holidays when I decided to really take time off from work and unplug. At first, I didn’t know what to do with myself… but then I remembered that I used to enjoy playing video games before I went to college.
So I decided to give myself some time to be a kid again and play guilt-free. I started playing “The Sims” and soon, this game had turned into just as much of an addictive behavior as working was for me.
I delayed meals and stayed up late to play this game… behaviors that I used to take on in order to perform better in school and the early days of my business.
All of these self observations are coming to light because I’m looking forward to embarking on a new chapter and dream in my life… of a different nature: motherhood.
I’m not expecting yet, but I’ve been putting a lot of thought into my work arrangements in preparation and I want to turn down the dial on my workaholic tendencies before it’s too late.
So my question to you is of a quite personal nature…
I’m truly curious to find out, because it’s a question that I haven’t figured out myself yet. Dreams are still bursting at the seams, but now I’m also dreaming about non-work related aspirations, too.
Nathalie Lussier is an award winning digital strategist and co-founder of AmbitionAlly. She’s also the creator of the wildly popular and free 30 Day List Building Challenge. You can find more info on her website or follow her on FB or Twitter.