Have you ever had this dream? You’re back in school, trying to find your old classroom. When you finally manage to tuck yourself back into your old desk, you’re staring at an exam for which you didn’t prepare. To make matters worse, the words keep squirming around on the page, or your pencil turns into a parakeet, or you realize you forgot to wear pants, etc., etc.
No matter how hard you try to pass this dream exam, no matter how intensely you focus, you never have a chance. Why? Because it’s a dream exam. The only way to “pass” a dream exam is to wake up.
Maybe you’re feeling stuck in your career. You’ve tried this, you’ve tried that–but still you’re stuck. When nothing seems to be working, ask yourself this: Am I fully awake? Or do you keep missing something–maybe even something so basic you never even think to question it?
It’s human nature to cling to a long-held strategy, even when that strategy quits working. You open a lemonade stand and start selling lemonade. Somewhere down the road you realize you’re no longer enjoying selling lemonade, so what do you do? You work harder. You try to sell more and more lemonade. Maybe you do manage to sell more lemonade, but does this address the issue? Maybe. Maybe not. After all, if you didn’t enjoy selling a little bit of lemonade, are you going to enjoy selling a lot of it?
If you’re at an impasse with your career, try to start paying closer attention to other seemingly unrelated aspects of your life. Be honest with yourself. Recognize where you’re merely going through the motions. Focus less on getting things right. Focus less on passing the dream exam. Instead, try to wake up. Firmly locate yourself within the simple reality of Here and Now. Recognize the dream as a dream, then evaluate your lemonade stand.