What is dreamstorming?
I spent many years trying to figure out what I was meant to do with my life. Though I knew from a young age that I was passionate about writing, self-doubt led me to believe it couldn’t ever lead to a successful career.
I went to college after high school because I felt I was supposed to. I dropped out, worked various jobs, re-enrolled, and eventually got my degree at 32. Still, I didn’t know what my purpose was.
Most of the people I knew were in the same boat. We worked for whoever would employ us, punched the clock, paid our bills, and tried to find fulfillment on the weekends. As the famous saying goes, “The meaning of life is to discover your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
We didn’t know the meaning of our lives, and we certainly weren’t living with any real purpose.
I’ve had friends tell me they would love to go back to school, if only they knew what they wanted to study. Or they’d love to quit their jobs, if only they knew what they wanted to do instead. They have gifts, hobbies, passions, but they don’t know how to transform them into a fulfilling career.
I also have friends who have no clue what they want, only that their current career isn’t it.
Finding your purpose in life
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The only gift is a portion of thyself. Therefore the poet brings his poem; the shepherd, his lamb; the farmer, corn; the miner, a stone; the painter, his picture; the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing.” I think there’s a lot of truth in that statement. I spend my days crafting stories, stringing words into something I hope will be helpful, because that is the best part of myself I have to give.
But how do you find that part of yourself? The part that’s crying out to be shared with the world? If it were so easy to find, wouldn’t everyone have their dream job?
“The meaning of life is to discover your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
I think the answer starts with knowing yourself. It’s important to ask yourself questions and silently wait for the answers. I’m going to share a simple dreamstorming exercise you can do to start finding the answers inside yourself.
If you already sorta kinda know what you might like your life to look like, this exercise will be the first step in focusing your dreams into actionable goals. If you have no idea what you want your life to look like, this exercise will help you identify your core desires and values, which you can then use to explore further.
This dreamstorming exercise could not be simpler. All you need is a piece of paper, something to write with, and a quiet place where you can be by yourself with no distractions.
How to dreamstorm
- Sit quietly, writing utensil at the ready, and think of all the things you really want in life. Feel free to dream as big or as small as you want. Always wanted to learn an instrument or foreign language? Write it down. Want to retire on the moon? Put it on the list. Truly, guys, NO dream is too big or small.
- Also, it may help you to split your paper into categories, like personal, professional, financial, and relational.
- Spend at least 15 uninterrupted minutes dreamstorming. Set a timer on your phone if you have to.
- Then, consider each category and think about what your ideal life would look like. It doesn’t matter where you are now. If there were no limitations, where would you like to be?
Feel free to keep going for as long as you like, but when you’re done, take a moment to look over each category. See if you can find any patterns. Do any areas of your life seem to have dreams that are alike or fit together?
For instance, the first time I ever tried dreamstorming, long before I started blogging or even thinking about pursuing a writing career, my professional category included these items:
- Be my own boss
- Have a job that allows me to be creative
- Help people
Now, there are plenty of ways those items could have manifested into a career, right? But my current path definitely allows me to fulfill all three of those dreams.
Don’t worry about trying to pick out a career path right now, though. Just look at what you’ve written and see what it tells you. Is there anything you wrote down that surprises you? Maybe you wrote that you wanted to complete a half marathon, even though the only running you do is out of patience? Maybe that thing you thought was just a hobby appeared as something you’d like to do professionally?
Let what you’ve written sink in. Hopefully this exercise confirms some things you already knew, and now you’re ready to take action. It’s also perfectly fine if you don’t want to make any moves just yet. At the very least, you know yourself a little better now, and that’ll lead you to a whole new chapter in your story one day.
I want to hear about the results of your dreamstorming exercise in the comments! What surprised you? What scared you a little bit? Where do you go from here?
If you want to keep going on your purpose-finding journey, you can learn how to turn your dreams into actionable goals here.