But that’s not “Godly”

This addresses the most pervasive and recurring question I receive daily – How can I trust my dreams and passions?

Tom, a sharp 27-yr-old presented himself in my office, wanting confirmation that he was on the right track. He had recently graduated from college (having taken the 7-year plan) and had taken a position with a company selling office equipment. Each morning he put on his suit and began making his calls. The company loved him, however, he was bored beyond belief. I asked him why he had taken this route and his reply relayed a common perception. Tom said that he had a great time in college; he traveled, went snowboarding, attended ball games, and spent time with his friends. Now that he had graduated he felt it was time to “grow up” and become part of the “real world.” He assumed that meant getting a job that he hated but that would prove his responsibility.

I laughed and asked who had sold him that bill of goods. We looked carefully at his skills, personality traits, values, dreams and passions. Today, Tom is co-owner of a snowboard shop in Breckenridge, Colorado. On a moonlight night you might catch him coming down a hill at 3:00 AM, testing one of his new designs.

What is it that you find naturally enjoyable? If money were not important, what would you spend your time doing? When do you find the time just flying by? What are those recurring themes that keep coming up in your thinking? What did you enjoy as a child but perhaps have been told was unrealistic or impractical to focus on as a career?

This is a tough area for most people. There is a subtle spiritual myth that following our dreams is likely to be selfish, egotistical, and something God would frown on. That kind of thinking implies that God is totally outside of ourselves; we are simply physical robots separated from His mind and heart. However, we are created in God’s image and as such are co-creators with Him. Why would God have created us to think imaginatively and to have vivid dreams only to then squelch those dreams for practicality? Consider the possibility that your dreams and desires are the voice of your soul, God’s voice within you, longing for expression through your faith and action. And as you move toward your values, dreams, and passions, you will move toward being more spiritual and more fully what God created you to be.

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26 Responses to “But that’s not “Godly””

  1. Darwin Says:

    I’ve pondered this topic many times during my 38 year career. After a rough decade and almost nine months of unemployment, I’m listening even more carefully for that still small voice for guidance on the next leg of the journey.

    I just found your blog and am looking forward to future posts. Thanks.

  2. Shannon Says:

    This is great! I am also hearing this same message from many diverse resources now. I believe God is inspiring many so that we will all learn this and enjoy the beautiful lives which we were meant to have. This is the path to “self-realization” (or “self-actualization”) which we can find as you say, by learning to listen to the guidance from our hearts – not the minds, which can rationalize all kinds of detours. I look forward to more stories helping us connect with our creativity and joy, letting our feeling of joy be our guide.

  3. Tami Says:

    This is exactly what I have been praying fervently about for the last few weeks. Thanks for the precise answer to my question. Very surprising to find it here! Very inspiring.

  4. multicultibaby Says:

    I think that it’s awesome that God so lovingly crafts each of us with something unique to contribute to this world. I think the challenge for most of us is that we war with the part of us that wants to be practical and responsible. I am an attorney by training, yet I long to do other things as well. Recently, I’ve started pursuing those other avenues, and I’m happier by the day. It takes courage, because the monetary rewards are not immediate, and while not the most important aspect, it’s a consideration.

  5. Richard Says:

    I’ve been reading these stories for years. Yes they are inspirational and uplifting. What about the other side. What about those who leave the comfortable “common path” only to find out it was a mistake or they find out what they thought was there passion and gifts really wasn’t. I don’t want to necessarily hear about failures but how ones recover from these failures after attempting to chase their passion. What was their lesson learned, what would they do differently, how could they have prepared themselves better etc.

  6. WEC Says:

    Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (“cheek-sent-me-high-ee”) excerpts interviews with over ninety exceptional people pursuing a diverse range of interests to provide a frame and a language for beginning to answer the question, “How can I live more creatively?”

    Not so much inspiring (though it can be) as revealing. And a pretty easy read, too.

    Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1996). Creativity : Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York: Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-06-092820-4

  7. Dale Callahan Says:

    I have seen people chase passions that were “mistakes”. While on the surface you might think they could go back to where they started. But the reality is I have never really seen people go back to where they were – they were changed. They were now different people. They grew.

    Very often people bring their new experiences into something even larger. I have one good friend who tried his hand as a company owner with several investors. He realized he was no leader and he looked at the experience as a failure.

    However, he now knows where is best, and is providing consulting to companies who need his skills, most learned from his failure. I do not know if he sees it that way or not – but I clearly see it was not a failure at all.

    The real trick is – do you really want to look back and have never tried? Or are you taking counsel of your fears?

  8. Jackie G. Says:

    Now that I’m gainfully unemployed, I’m really pondering what I’ll do when I grow up. I’ve thought so much during these past few months about what I would do if money were not an object; the recurring theme that presents itself originates from my childhood, teen years, and honestly had always been there; a love for travel. I’ve lived in Europe during my college years; have returned on numerous occasions and have always been delighted by the sights and smells of Europe. I’ve spent several Christmas holidays abroad and find that my heart yearns to be there. I used to be a travel agent 30+ years ago, but the money has never been lucrative. I remain stuck trying to figure out how to incorporate sojourns in Europe with my writing skills, chef skills, while making money. There you have it. Suggestions anyone?

  9. Richard Says:

    To Jackie G:

    Writing for frommers or other travel mags, blog/self-publish, write “how-to” guides for Americans seeking to travel to Eurpoe and work in European kitchens????

  10. Scott Says:

    Great story, Dan. Thanks for all you do for all of us!!

  11. Celia Westberry Says:

    Thanks for reminding us that God is not separate from ourselves!

  12. Jackie G. Says:

    Dumb question, but how does one get “in” with frommers, etc.? Thanks for your suggestions.

  13. Rachel Says:

    I have spent 13 years in a career that I chose for the wrong reasons. I struggle to get out of bed every day. My real passion is fashion design. I have taken classes at night and worked part time on the side to gain experience. Recently I started my own handbag line. I have taken advantage of free programs: SCORE, library business centers, etc. I have researched information on the internet and networked with everyone possible. I think my biggest hang up right now is the lack of funds to pursue my business. I need legal help to register my name and funds to manufacture products. I have considered selling my house and moving into an apartment or condo to decrease monthly bills. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  14. Brandon Says:

    Hey Rachel,

    Don’t let money stop you from chasing your dreams. You don’t need to start by registering a name but if you must, it isn’t that costly. You can start an llc for as low as $99 or even a dba for around $40-$60. As far as manufacturing the handbag, start by creating a few samples. You can sell them to friends, at flea markets or trade shows. If that works, then you can contact a manufacturer for a small order or work with a local seamstress. Loans are a possibility as well but start small and slowly work your way up. Just keep trying and never give up. Good Luck!

  15. Gwen L. Davis Says:

    Hi there!
    Thanks so much for this wonderful information that you have shared with others. It is great reading and very helpful to me. How can I sign up for your newsletter?

    Gwen L. Davis

  16. Rachel Says:

    Thanks Brandon,
    I already have a local manufacturer and a few samples. I am just worried about making sure I will not get sued for using my business name. I am going to make an appointment to meet with a counselor at the local community college to see if they can help me with my next steps. Thanks again.

  17. Jackie Lambert Says:

    Dan, did you write this blog just for my husband? He has the Bachelors and a Masters and works in Corporate America, because he “got sold on that bill of goods”. Now he would give almost anything to live in Breckenridge, CO and make snowboards for a living! I’m sending him this blog. We’re going to CO in March to board for a week. We may never leave after we get there:)

    Keep writing this great stuff Dan!!


  18. Lynne Watts Says:

    In response to the question, ‘What about those who chase their passion and in some way fail?’ I would say that we learn something even through failure and sometimes what we learn is more valuable that what we learn through success. Zig Ziglar says that at the end of your life you are either going to be able to say “I wish I had” or “I’m glad I did”. I’m striving for the latter.

  19. Drew Says:

    This posts hits home with me. I lived in Breckenridge for 3 years snowboarding over 100 days each season. I loved my life. I was having so much fun and enjoyed every moment. Then I did the same thing and thought I had to ‘get a real job’. Soon I was a VP of a bank but I didn’t love it and I wasn’t doing the things I really loved. This year I quit that ‘real job’ to work on my own business. I am now loving every day and having so much fun. It was a few year distraction but I finally found my way back to the work I love.

  20. Mark Cook Says:


    I’ve never posted or written you before, but I have to say thanks. This article reminds me that your 48 Days package a couple of years ago put me on the journey of a lifetime. I was 42 and searching for what God wanted me to do. I figured out that when I was on a mission trip overseas, or when I was teaching/speaking/writing, I was “in a zone” that expressed who I really am. As such, I am now working towards a master’s degree in Christian Leadership Studies and contemplating a doctorate, then a career teaching, either in seminars or at the college level (or both), and doing 3-4 missions trips a year.

    Thanks for changing my life! God bless,

    Mark Cook
    Lynchburg, VA

  21. Jeff Says:

    Gwen L. Davis – Dan’s newsletter can be subscribed at http://www.48days.com/ . Just enter your name and email at the upper right hand corner of the website.

    Dan, do you have a website for this guys business? I would love to see what he has done. Very inspirational! I took a hiatus from college and spent a ski season working in Silverthorne, CO…just down the street from Breckenridge. If I hadn’t promised family that I would finish my degree I know I would still be there. My school loans are paid off now so this story speaks to me and I need to figure out my plan of action to get back there. Thanks for all you do!

    Portland, OR

  22. Terry Says:

    Brandon says:

    “Don’t let money stop you from chasing your dreams…”

    Okay, I live on a poverty-level income and I have dreams but every dream I’ve wanted to pursue requires startup capital – not a huge amount by average-American standards, but a mountain by mine. There are a lot of “small” $99-ish fees that have me paralyzed, not to mention the big costs.

    Try living on a poverty-level income and tell me $99 is not a stumbling block.

  23. Mark Says:

    This post reminds me of my own journey to the position I have now. I started listening to Dan’s podcast and then read 48 Days. I pondered over a set of questions in that book and came to the realization that God had created a passion in my heart to serve. It became so clear to me!!! Once I understood where my heart wanted to lead me I was able to clearly search for a position that I would love.

    Thank you Dan for your inspiring words! I love to hear stories of people that have created a “job” for themselves that they truly love!

  24. Brandon Says:


    I apologize if I made $40 or $99 seem like nothing but at the same time, it’s not impossible even on a poverty level income. I’ve personally had friends who have had limited incomes but found the money to buy the latest fashions, cell phone gadgets, etc. I’m sure there are areas in your life where you can cut back to save some dollars for example: buying generic brands, cutting out a cell phone or using a prepaid one, making food from home, selling some stuff you don’t use anymore, etc. I could name tons of examples. Once you cut back, the extra savings can go toward that $40 or $99 dollar fee. It might take some months but eventually, you can find a way. You can also try taking out a small loan and repaying it back slowly if necessary. Hope this helps you and others.

  25. jazz singing lessons Says:

    Have you ever considered adding more videos to your blog posts to keep the readers more entertained? I mean I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good but since I’m more of a visual learner

  26. high gloss kitchens Says:

    Finally a smart blogger…I adore how you might be thinking and writing!

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