What Brand Are Your Dreams?

As a life coach, I am in the business of helping people get what they want in life. But far too often, the problem is not in the “getting,” but in the “wanting.” Most of us walk around either not knowing what we want, clinging to dreams that sound good, but aren’t really what we want or being afraid to admit what we want.

For example, if you had asked me in 2004 what my dream was for my career, I would have told you that it was to be a professor and win the Nobel Prize for my work in Synthetic Biology. That sounds like a great dream, doesn’t it? Big and bold and ambitious, and heck, who wouldn’t want to win the Nobel Prize? The truth was that I chose that dream because it looked good on paper and sounded impressive, but I didn’t really feel excited about it. At the Handel Group®, we call this the “PR Agent” brand of dreaming. This kind of a dream is all about managing how you look to other people.

Once I realized that my heart really wasn’t in the Nobel Prize dream, I moved on to what we call the “numb” brand of dreaming. If you had interviewed me about my career in 2005, I would have told you that I had no idea what I wanted to do. That I could make a list a mile long of possible careers, but none of them really seemed that exciting. I could have forced myself to do any one of them, but was just plain tired of trying so hard. At this point in the interview, I likely would have burst into tears and bemoaned the fact that I wasn’t one of “those people” who knew what they wanted to do since the age of five.

I was frozen in “numb” for a while, until 2006 when I began coaching with the Handel Group® through a course offered at my university. I began to dig deeply, understand myself and what I really felt about things. In short, I thawed the numb and discovered– a chicken. Thus began a third brand of dreaming, the “chicken” dream. This is where you know what you want to do, deep down inside, but don’t want to admit it, because the dream takes you so far outside your comfort zone that a different language is spoken over there. For me, my heart was saying that I wanted to be a therapist or life coach, but that idea scared the daylights out of me. Picture the scenario: my heart told me to leave a field that was deemed the “It” technology of the 21st century, for which I had trained for 11 years and instead, enter a field that most people had not even heard of, at a start-up company with no track record, and all for little money with no guarantees that I would be any good at it. What did I do with this wisdom from my heart? I chickened out and refused to admit that coaching was my dream.

After a year of living in chicken-ville, desperately trying to find something ELSE that excited me, to no avail, I finally put down my chicken, faced my fears and began training to be a coach. This was the fourth, and last, brand of dreaming on my career path: the “heroic” brand, where you boldly take on your heart’s deepest desires, stand by them and play full-out. For the first time in years, I was happy and deeply proud of my career choice. I hadn’t known that it was possible to feel that happy about a career.

Once I had finally admitted my dream, I wrote it up to get it out in the open. Following all of the dreaming techniques, I now teach others, I developed a heartfelt and deeply inspiring dream that knocked my socks off. And then, at that point, it was just a matter of implementing it. I say “just” because it took me far more time to find the dream than it actually did to make it come true. You might think that’s unusual, but I am not unique in this situation. I find that many of my clients have not built the life of their dreams because they simply don’t know what that means. Once they take down the PR Agent, numb, chicken or other clouded brands of dreaming, and dream in earnest, the path forward becomes a whole lot clearer.

Where in your life are you not in love with your dreams? What is your brand of dreaming? Write a note and share.

Love, Samantha

P.S.- Want to learn how to dream? I lead a weekend workshop where I teach just that: the Life Coaching Crash Course. Register using promo code: Daily100 to save $100. I promise, these two days will change your life. (Locations include: NY, Boston, DC, Florida, California)

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Dr. Samantha Sutton is a Senior Coach and Vice President and Director of Courses and Seminars at The Handel Group®. Samantha designs and leads the Handel Group’s® flagship workshop, the Life Coaching Crash Course. Samantha additionally coaches at universities such as Stanford and MIT. Prior to becoming a coach, Samantha received a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from MIT.

  • Natanya

    “Branded dreaming” is a new way of seeing the process that I’ve never heard before and I just love it! It helps to see it as a path and to gauge where I am in the trajectory. Thanks so much Samantha! Not just for the article but for following your dream and being a bold leader of your life that now inspires us all!

    •  You are very welcome, Natanya. What brand are you?

  • Ema

    Since I was a little girl, all I wanted to do is dance. I started dancing lessons at the age of five. But then I started elementary school, which lead to high school and now college and dancing became just a “hobby” and a thing at the side to keep my mind of college and to relax 2 times a week (this is my mom’s definition of what dance is to me). When I am dancing, nothing exists around me. I feel like I am in my own bubble and on top of the world. But I can’t be a professional dancer, at leas not until I finish college, which I don’t really like that much. I just want to tell everyone that I don’t want to go to college anymore and just dance, but then I remember how much money my parents have put into me studying and how much time and effort have I put into studying. I guess I still am the chicken. And, I am so scared that if I start to dance professionally that people around me won’t understand and will judge me. That I will have to quit college. I am just scared to take my life into my own hands and be happy doing what I really love.

    •  It sounds like you want to be a dancer, Ema. We only have so many heartbeats in our lives, and then we die… make sure that you are spending yours wisely, doing what makes you happy. Because otherwise, what is the point?

  • Mili

    well, is a interesting reflexion, sometimes is too easy to “see” the dream, sometimes don´t… I am just in that period of my life when I don´t really know what I want, I hope to find the answer soon. I will keep reading you in order to try to find it!  

    •  Consider that it all really is there, in your heart, Mili. You just need to get curious, start to play, and listen. Start to know the very distinctive sound that your heart makes when it talks to you.

  • Courtalot

    This article reminds me of the movie, “My Girl” where Vada Sultenfuss had a psychological chicken bone stuck in her throat.  It’s the idea that we never feel settled or satisfied. We worry ourselves to spiritual and mental strife.  Always looking and searching to find peace within ourselves and our purpose in life.  I once felt that chicken bone stuck in my throat. I was the girl who knew exactly where she was going and everyone around me knew I would get there…until recently when I was fired from my job and humiliated professionally.  It is amazing how one person or event can change the course of your life.  I understand that I am in charge of my thoughts and destiny but this experience has been a real eye opener.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life, but I do know that is helping me pass the “numb” stage. I find that physical and mental activities allow me to engage with people who are happy, which in turn helps me accept where I am right now in this life. Long bike rides on the lake, volunteering at an urban garden, tutoring children, going to a Buddhist temple for the first time, practicing the art of meditation, going to hot yoga, dancing my troubles away at zumba are helping me regain the feeling of hope in my soul.  When I’m actively participating in something bigger than myself (even exercising!) allows me to literally melt the feeling of numbness away.  I screamed and cried but also constructed a healing plan for myself involving volunteer work and spiritual reflection. I can report the chicken bone is officially gone, and while I still don’t know what my purpose is I’ve been able to restore my hope and faith, and that feels wonderful. 

  • Awesome post Samantha! Love your explanations of the different brands, that explains so much about the path I’ve been on 🙂

    •  Fabulous… which ones were “you”?

  • Susan

    I think I am stuck between numb and chicken.  I really have no idea about my dreams as I am so fixated on taking care of things today (family etc).  I have a career/job that I have been involved with for 21 years but it certainly wasn’t my dream career.  Would love to take your LCCC but I live in the Midwest.  Is it available in another form?