Instead of New Year’s resolutions, which always seem to involve giving up something we love, or habits we really don’t mind, I’d like to propose the concept of New Year’s dreams.
One of our work initiatives this year was to make our dreams part of our worklife. The idea behind this is that if the things we dream of are somehow integrated into our work, work is better and overall happiness increases.
I’ve long been of the opinion that if your job isn’t part of your ‘real life’ then you need a new job. I could not imagine spending ten or more hours of my day devoted to something that didn’t mean anything to me. I love my day job – it’s fun. I like the people I work with and the work that I do. I also have plenty of free time to explore other things. So at first I couldn’t quite see how this initiative had anything to do with me.
The boss got his idea from The Dream Manager, by Matthew Kelly and I finally got around to reading it a couple of months ago. I’m not recommending this book as the greatest thing since sliced bread. I’m not well-versed in business management books and have no intention of ever becoming so, but I found the concept interesting. Set up in the form of a parable, the general manager of a cleaning company with staff turnover around 300%/year figures out how to make his employees happier, more productive and not only stay, but recruit for him. He does this by helping them fulfil their dreams.
My boss got one of the staff to come on board as the Dream Manager. He’s now got about half the staff working with mentors to help them make their dreams come true.
One of the tasks everyone who participates must do is compile a list of 100 of their dreams. Sound easy? Try it. I did pretty well for the first twenty, mostly countries I would like to visit, books I’ve been meaning to read, lose weight. But then I got stuck. What do I dream of? Really? What do I want to achieve? Acquire? Learn? Be?
The next 20 sounded like your standard list of New Year’s resolutions, scolding myself for my shortcomings and promising to do better. I felt like giving up as the process was making me feel bad. But as I am not one to give up easily, I carried on.
Then something interesting happened. Things started coming out that I didn’t ‘let’ myself dream of – things like learning calculus, speaking Mandarin, write a travel book for middle aged travellers who can’t sleep in train stations and need a private loo, but don’t want to do the standard tour thing. Some very interesting stuff.
So for New Year 2009, I’ve taken my list of 100 dreams and culled it to stuff I dream of doing in 2009. I’ve got 35 dreams, there – every one something positive or fun or a challenge I know I can meet if I put the effort in. Chances are I won’t get to them all. But that’s okay – there’s always next year.
How about you? What are your 100 dreams?