By Valerie Young
Remember writing those "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" essays way back when?
Summertime may not be the endless carefree season it was when you were a kid, but it’s still a great time to jumpstart your dream of working at what you love.
Here are three ways to use your summer vacation to grow a dream:
1. Become a Dream Detective
Imagine yourself a Dream Detective… someone who has an uncanny nose for scoping out unique business ventures. Like any good detective, you’ll want to take lots and lots of notes. Whether your vacation plans take you to the beach, the mountains, or the city, make sure to pack a small notebook along with the sunscreen and maps. But this isn’t any old notebook… it’s your Dream Notebook!
The idea is to use your Dream Notebook to capture as many cool business ideas as possible. If you’re traveling with kids you might even want to enlist their help by making a game of it. Maybe you’ll spy an interesting business in the airport terminal or along the roadside. Or perhaps you’ll find an existing business that’s come up with a unique income stream, like an outdoor cafe that, for a fee, will walk patron’s dogs while they dine.
If the business itself is nothing new, but they’re using some neat marketing tactic to get customers in the door, add the marketing idea to your list as well. For example, I read about a CPA who partnered with a hotel to offer weekend guests a completed tax return by checkout. Two unlikely business partners who profited from a creative idea.
The purpose of capturing cool business and marketing ideas is to shift your thinking away from the more limiting idea of "job" to the more option-expanding concept of “livelihood.” But that’s not all. Even if you have no interest in starting your own soft-serve ice cream shop/kids bookstore (with a fun hand-washing area dividing the two,
of course), a summer camp for Star Wars fans, or an antique stove repair business, just by paying attention to the wonderfully vast number of ways there are to make a living without a j-o-b can help fuel your own creative thinking.
2. Use The Longer Days To Start Working On Your Dream
Even though there’s still only 24 hours in a day, the extra hours of sunlight somehow make the day feel longer. Use the “extra” time to start actively working on your dream. For example…
If you still don’t know what you want to be “when you grow up,” read a book about tapping into your true calling. (You'll find numerous suggestions in the Changing Course Bookstore.)
If you’re in the exploring stage, consider taking an adult education course through your local college. I did a random search for courses and found such intriguing topics as How to Write and Sell Movie Treatments, Leather Bookbinding, and Opening Your Own Bed & Breakfast.
If you have a business idea in mind, you could spend the time researching your business, building your website, or working on your marketing plan. The point is to find a way to shine some of that extra sunlight onto your dreams.
3. Invest in Your Dream
One way to invest in your dream is to start spending less and saving more. If you need to save money to put toward your new home office or to purchase inventory, consider vacationing at home and stashing away the money you would have spent on a costly vacation into your “dream fund.”
The other way to invest in your dream is to make a conscious decision to spend money in the service of your dream. Sometimes the smartest (and quickest) way to start working at what you love is to invest in the skills, training, experiences, materials, or other resources you’ll need to launch your dream.
Coleman Cox asks, “Now that it’s all over, what did you really do yesterday that’s worth mentioning?” Looking ahead instead of back, the question will become, "How did YOU spend your summer?" Hopefully the answer will be, “Launching my dream of working at what I love!”