Fractured Atlas Book Club: Build Your Dreams
In October 2010, two recent college graduates decided to quit their unfulfilling day jobs to embark on a three month cross country road trip where they would meet and interview entrepreneurs who've made careers out of following their dreams. These two adventurers, Alexis Irvin & Chip Hiden, who happen to have been high school classmates with our very own Theresa Hubbard, compiled their interviews into a documentary - The Dream Share Project. They now screen this film across the country and offer workshops meant to inspire others to find and chase their passions. Irvin & Hiden also wrote a delightful little book summarizing the major lessons that they've learned along the way, Build Your Dreams: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love.
As I've made repeatedly clear through this blog series, I absolutely loathe books that are entirely theoretical and my favorite thing about this book is that it's one of the most action-oriented self-help books that I've encountered. The reading experience is rather similar to
The Artist's Way by Julie Cameron. Build Your Dreams doesn't let you sit back and read it passively. Instead, it's full of exercises that challenge you in ways that help flesh out your dream and then take steps to achieving it.
I have to say that I approached this book with a more-than-healthy degree of skepticism. You don't have to live in New York City too long before you encounter hordes of people - friends, neighbors, co-workers, loved ones - who have given up on their dream. So, maybe I'm a little jaded? But this book wore me down. It's relentlessly optimistic. But more than that, it's empowering by guiding you through the experience of chasing your dream as you're actually doing it.
A grandfather of one of the authors has a saying that gets quoted in the book: "Proper planning prevents poor performance." Gotta love some good alliteration. The chapter that I most enjoyed, 'Map-Making,' offers some great advice on creating a solid step-by-step action plan for moving forward. Irvin & Hiden provide twenty five sample plans for a variety of different vocations, from Restaurateur to Professional Athlete and from Lawyer to Architect. My favorite action plan was for a career as a Rock Star. They provide twelve steps mapped out over a five year period as an example of the kind of things that a budding rock start should be thinking about as he or she goes about fulfilling their destiny. Now my musical skills can best be summed up with the label ukulele enthusiast, but I looked at the action plan and thought, "Even I can do that!" A dream can seem too remote, too big, or too daunting if all you do is think about the end result. The answer to the riddle "How do you eat an elephant?" is "One bite at a time." Breaking down your dream into bite-sized chunks makes it a lot less terrifying, and this book really drives that point home.
Build Your Dreams covers a lot of other great topics - like how to overcome common obstacles that stand between you and the path to your goal, how to make time and room in your life for the work that lies before you, and how to find and cultivate your 'inner salesperson' so that you can sell your dream to others as you're making it a reality. At less than 200 pages, many of which are devoted to exercises, it's a very quick read (which is important to me) but it could be just the push you need to get off the couch and do something that you're passionate about.
To go off on a quick tangent, our Development Associate Ben Kaplan recently sent me a link to this semi-inspiring, semi-terrifying post How to Read a Book a Week by Julien Smith. Who's up for the challenge? If you've read a great book that's inspired you to pursue your dreams, please don't keep it to yourself, but let us know so that we can share it with others! Tweet us, Facebook us, or email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.