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The Difference is in the Details: How Reading Between the Lines Can Help You Discover Your Life Mission and Live It

In just about every issue of the Changing Course Newsletter is a feature called “Val’s Picks and Ponderings.” A pick might come in the form of a book, a course, school, other learning opportunity, a website, a resource, information, or an opportunity – anything that can help you nudge your dream along or put it firmly on the fast track.

Some picks consist of a pretty straight-forward sharing of information. Usually though, a pick comes with a bit pondering. Even when a pick doesn’t seem to speak to your unique gifts or interests, on the surface anyway, read it anyway. Why? Because when it comes to trying to make a major work-life change, reading between the lines, digging deeper, making connections and the like can make all the difference.

For one, life changing gems sometimes show up in the most unexpected places. Let me give you an example. I happened to be flipping through the AAA auto club newsletter when there, among the ads for trips to Radio City Music Hall, Niagara Falls, and Rio, under the headline “Journey to Ireland,” I spotted a picture of my local congressman, Richard Neal. As it turns out, he’s part of an upcoming nine day trip to Ireland being sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts (WAC).

In addition to detailing the airfare, deluxe hotel, meals, a performance at the Abby Theater, and other travel highlights, the ad went on to explain that the WAC is also “providing opportunities to meet political leaders and business contacts.” They’ve even arranged a series of special interest forums to highlight such topics as women, youth, education and technology.

My first reaction was, Wow! If you’ve always dreamed of starting an import-export business or otherwise doing business in or with Ireland, what could be better than getting to not only go on a fabulous vacation there, but to be accompanied by a United States Representative of Irish-American descent to personally introduce you to potential business partners or customers! But that’s not all. Since the purpose of the trip is to make business connections, all or much of the “vacation” is tax-deductible! (For details go to or call the World Affairs Council at 413-733-0110.)

The point is, you never know when you might find an info-nugget or a connection or a perspective that can in turn lead to some change-enhancing idea, aha, or insight that DOES support your dream.

Another reason to read between the lines, or in this case, the Picks, is that changing course is about GIVING support as much as getting it. Even though you may not be into financial planning or travel or music or whatever a particular Pick might about, I bet you know someone who is. How great if you could buck the dream-busting mentality out there by passing along some information to encourage someone else’s dream.

Case in point, when I learned about the John Lennon Song Writing Contest I couldn’t wait to tell a very talented singer and song writer I know named Travis LeDoyt. While making quite a name for himself with his Tribute to the King show (last year he was featured in a New York Times Sunday Magazine), he’s also getting ready to release an album of original recordings (check him out at So, as you read a Pick or an article, see something on TV or on the web, consciously think to yourself, “Whose dream might this information help?

Then there is the Law of Reciprocity. The Law of Reciprocity says that if you help someone else that person, will find a way to reciprocate in some way. What I think is far more importantly than the tit-for-tat element of support is that when you actively begin to support another person’s dreams you automatically begin to feel more excited and hopeful about your own.

The great writer Alice Walker explained the dance of support very well when she wrote:

“Wherever I have knocked, a door has opened. Wherever I have wandered, a path has appeared. I have been helped, supported, encouraged, and nurtured by people of all races, creeds, colors, and dreams; and I have, to the best of my ability, returned help, support, encouragement, and nurture. This receiving, nurturing, or passing on has been the most amazing, joyous and continuous experience of my life.”

Finally, reading between the lines helps address what I believe to be one of the biggest reasons most people never go after their dreams – namely, lack of information. Most people, I find, operate within a very limited range of income generating options – plumber, police officer, social worker, scientist, etc. – all of which come under the j-o-b umbrella. They dutifully scan the job listings, and when they don’t see anything that makes their heart leap, they resign themselves to a life spent waiting for retirement.

Discovering how many fascinating ways there are to make a living, or the vast number of unique learning and training opportunities out there, or the myriad of helpful resources that exist in the world is truly mind expanding. I know. One great perk about my work is that I get to see mind expansion in action all the time. It happens whenever someone asks me what I do.

When I explain that I help people who want more control over their lives to a) figure out what they want to “be when they grow up” and then b) come up with creative ways to make a living at their passion without a j-o-b two things happen. First, their eyes light up. Next, they almost always ask, “And, how do you do THAT?” referring to the second part of the equation. (If you had that same response, click here for my answer.)

You see the thing is, when you open your mind to opportunity the world suddenly gets a whole lot bigger. As your mind and the world open up you’ll experience a similar spurt in options. So, make it a point to read between the lines. When you do, I think you’ll discover that the difference is in the details.

Learn how you can Fast Track Your Dream of working at what you love on your own terms.

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About the Author

“Profiting From Your Passions®” expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger’s, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman’s Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.

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