the pursuit of #happiness: post on how to be a part-time dream chaser via

Here’s what’s weighing on my heart these days: so many women – from friends to coaching clients – are feeling stuck. If circumstances were different, they say, they’d chase their dreams and be happy all the time. There’s just too much holding them back. But after careful dissection of their dreams, we often reach an earth-shattering conclusion: their families, careers and budgets aren’t to blame after all.

I know. Shocking. 

So many women stand in their own way, paralyzed by fear and trapped by the idea that pursuing a dream has to be an all-or-nothing endeavor. When they envision their end goal – the best-selling book, the flourishing new career, the stamped-up passport – they see themselves immersed in that new life. There’s no room in that blissful vision for carpooling or cleaning or their current job. That’s not reality, they say…somebody’s got to get Junior to his soccer games and help put food on the table. So they tuck their dreams away for a while longer. (Sound familiar?)

But here’s the thing. While their end-goal may not leave much room for current circumstances, getting there certainly could. Many times, women forget that their goal of full-time bliss can be achieved with part-time dream-chasing. Will it be hard? Maybe. But it’s a different kind of hard when you’re pursuing something that keeps catching your heart.

Last week, I had long chats with three women about moving their full-time dreams to part-time pursuits. One who’s long dreamed of attending art school realized she didn’t have to move away and study full-time, but that taking a local class or two on her day off could be the perfect start. Another who’s dreamed of working with a specific company on a specific project for a decade realized she could start turning her idea into a presentation…and eventually ask to meet with someone there. And the third? A woman struggling to choose between two jobs – her current one with good pay and benefits and the second dream job with less stability but huge potential – decided to ask for part-time status at both…and got it.

If you’ve put your dreams on hold thinking you don’t have the time, resources or energy to dive in full-bore, maybe you don’t have to. Consider this your perfectly-timed wake-up call and take it seriously.

Start today: experiment with joy.

Imagine your boss or spouse has asked you to come up with a plan for pursuing your dream part-time. It’s due in two weeks. Brainstorm what it might look like. Research the possibilities. Write down how much time and money you’d really need, where you’d find it, and what life circumstances might need rearranging to make it happen. If an idea comes to mind that seems ridiculous, follow its lead and figure out whether it’s really ridiculous or actually possible. Rather than assuming your pursuits will be a burden on your family or drain on your budget, look at the flip side: what if it’s awesome for your kids to see you joyful or what if there are ways to make money or gain resources pursuing that joy?

Before I left my corporate job in 2007, I’d had a part-time radio show for six months and had been blogging on the side for a year. And for several years after leaving, I still helped pay the bills by continuing to freelance for my old company.

There was a lot of part-time dream-chasing, friends.

And a funny thing happens when we pursue our passions and chase our dreams part-time: we invite joy to be present full-time. When you make time for the stuff you’re meant to do, you feel better about the stuff you have to do. And before you know it, you’re living the dream.