The other day, I was watching an episode from the mockumentary series Abbott Elementary. It was recommended to me by a friend as I used to be a teacher and could potentially relate. In one episode, Mr. Johnson, the custodian, is talking to a young substitute teacher who wants to become a principal. After Mr. Johnson lists the different jobs or careers he's had, Mr. Eddie, the substitute teacher asks, "Wait, you never dreamed of just doing one thing?" Not missing a beat, Mr. Johnson replies, "Sure I have, but a dream can be a distraction just as easy as it can be a goal."
This line struck me as I believe it to be true. Not just from my experience, but also from some of my clients' experience as well. How many times have we wanted something just to find out that it wasn't the right fit or it was a mask for something else?
I recall one client who came to me with certain goals but after a few months of working with me, she realized her initial goals didn't get to the root of the matter. This is what she said in an email she sent to me, "Knowledge certainly is power. What I stated were my goals when I first began working with you turned out just to be symptoms of my problems, not the problems themselves." She was "blown away" by the "insights and strength" she gained by coaching with me.
This is not uncommon. I've had some clients reassess initial goals because of newfound perspectives. They got in touch with their essential selves (who they are and what they like outside of external influence) and started to make less social self (the self influenced by family, friends, and others) decisions.
Perhaps Mr. Eddie wanted to be a principal so he could justify his career choice to his father who disapproved of his teaching. It could also be a way to do something different than his father who owned a landscaping company. In either case, his motives to be a principal could be a distraction than a true goal. Something that's alluded to when he later accepts a full-time teaching position at Abbott Elementary.
So how can you tell if your dream is a distraction as opposed to a goal or calling? Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help figure it out:
Does this goal align with your values?
Is it easier to pursue this goal than examining what you really want?
Do you have a pattern of career dissatisfaction? If so, why do you think that is?
Do you feel that if you finally achieve this goal, you will get the validation you feel you lack?
Does this goal bring more meaning to your life?
When I was younger, I had some lofty goals but now I can see some of those goals were social self or ego based as opposed to genuine and authentic desires. It's tricky because it's hard to decipher if one is an essential self goal as opposed to a social one. Hopefully, these questions will help.
So, is your dream a distraction or a true desire? If you feel you need further assistance to figure it out, please apply for a Get Acquainted Call to see if I can help you.