There is a graveyard of dreams out there, where abandoned ambition has breached its hull on bare rocks and run aground, never to be sea-worthy again. But we aren’t going there. No, the conversation I hope to have is20121008-002225.jpg a little more nuanced than that.

There are the doldrums of duty, in which the repetitive and repressive are a perpetual motion machine that becomes the norm, and is accepted because what you’re doing is important and necessary and must be done by somebody. But we aren’t going to loiter here. No, the place at which we need to arrive hints more at significance than this state of mind does.

There is dissonance that screeches out from between the touching points of dream and duty, cringe-inducing dissonance that you notice from time to time in silent moments when you ask yourself, “Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing? Am I capable of more? Has my ship sailed? Is it too late? Where do I go from here?”

When the dream looks more like an end result you are attaining to, and less like a station in life you are trying to reach, then you can be content in the way you are bringing about the dream right now, whether you are inspiring large crowds or cleaning a toilet.

When the duty is recognized as a launch pad for new and exciting ways to achieve change and add value, rather than the place you are stuck until X, Y, and Z can happen to move you up the ladder, then you can be enthusiastic and open to the possibilities as they present themselves.

Perhaps your present situation is just a transitional phase on your way to something greater. Or maybe, due to conscious choices or uncontrollable situations, you wish you could retrace your steps and create a totally different life than the one you are living now. The dissonance will ease when you are able to:

  • Reconcile the difference between the duty and the dream
  • Find contentment
  • Recognize the true impact of your work
  • Stay open to the possibilities
  • Add value to what you are doing and the people you are working with, and
  • Live up to the potential that you know is inside you.

Is there a difference between what you are doing, what you want to do, and the impact you hope to make in life? Can you see the significance of where you are and what you are doing right now? What must change about your situation or your mindset to reduce the dissonance and help you make the greatest impact in your profession and your life?

Photo: Glen Gaugh, 2012

Glen Gaugh
Glen is a social worker and supervisor for Youth Villages Specialized Crisis Services in West Tennessee. He leads professionals and volunteers to help families be their best. Connect with Glen on Twitter and Facebook.
Glen Gaugh