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The Dreaming Season

Recently I have found myself increasingly asking everyone around me - my candidates, clients, colleagues, and friends - about their dreams as I have been thinking quite a bit about mine. As I near the 10-year anniversary in my current job, I know I love what I do, but I have been wondering how I can approach my work with a new perspective, stay engaged, keep it and my efforts fresh so that I may continue to grow. So, I have entered a season of dreaming to ask the bigger, tougher questions, upend what I know, and shake up my status quo. 

The best part of me has always been a dreamer and I was a child full of fanciful ideas.  Not the sort of kid with her head in the clouds, but the sort who dreamt without a sense of obstacles. As much as my little curly-head could, I dreamt of the shape of my life, who I wanted to be and enlisted my imagination to expand beyond the bounds of what I knew.

There was a time, as an adult, when I felt it necessary to put away my dreams believing that I had outgrown my need for them. I actually said this to someone. Out loud. Of course, then the Great Recession hit and my professional life imploded leaving me with only my dreams. And in this crazy, upside-down time, they felt like the greatest gift. My earlier pronouncement seemed so foolish and my understanding of adulthood so small as to believe being grown meant leaving my dreams behind. For me dreaming is as necessary as water and my dreams propel me forward, challenge me to think more boldly and creatively.  It is a process, this dreaming. It requires a whole bunch of faith, and imperfect, faltering courage - it is not for the faint of heart. 

Now, I better see the seasons of dreaming. And I call them seasons because dreams can be fluid, evolve and change. And in this season, questions will loop in my brain as the dream begins to solidify and bear weight. Am I dreaming big, wide, high enough? I wonder about my limitations. Are they truly mine or have I taken them on from some external source? I wonder at what false stories I may be holding onto that are stalling me. Can I do this? Do I have the courage? And as the answers begin to pop up and a vision takes shape, I ask what I want to hang onto and what must necessarily be let go. 

So many lawyers have not asked themselves about their dreams for a very long time. For so many of us, getting to law school and becoming a lawyer was the dream. But then what? How do we pass through each phase of our careers and ask more of ourselves? At mid-career and/or mid-life, what is the dream? What is it we want to build, do, and who do we want to be?

We all have the ability to conjure this season, lasso our dreams into our lives. Often, it takes some quiet, silence, a moment to acknowledge when a distraction is momentary or a signal to throw things back up in the air. And to not be afraid of whatever answer, whatever vision comes your way.

More Articles by Sarah Van Steenburg 

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