Have you ever noticed what you daydream about when your work life isn’t going so great? It can give you helpful clues about what you’d really like to do.


A few years ago I was working my corporate job, and not loving it—in fact, feeling quite frustrated about it. When I’d meet with friends and the subject of work came up, I’d share with them my daydream fantasy involving a lawn mower repair shop:


Friend: So how’s work?


Me: I’m pretty much hating it. Sometimes I get this urge to quit and open up a lawn mower repair shop or something.


Mind you, I know very little about lawn mowers or small engines, so the notion of me literally doing what I was daydreaming about was a bit far-fetched, to say the least. And yet that’s the image that came up for me in my daydreams: Quit my job and open up a lawn mower repair shop.


So, what was behind this specific daydream?


For me there was something about owning a “shop”

Well, whenever I thought about the lawnmower shop, it took me back to a time, maybe a couple years out of college, when my best friend from Puerto Rico and I would joke that we should open up a SCUBA & Guitar Shop. Why, you ask? Because he loved SCUBA diving and I loved playing guitar and so, very simply and logically, the shop would give us the opportunity to hang out all day, doing business around stuff we loved to do.


Yes, it was a pipe dream, and we never took any steps toward opening up a SCUBA & Guitar Shop, but that image and the one of the lawnmower repair shop have stuck with me.


As I though about a shop, I recalled a time when I was in business school and I had a job helping other students with resumes, presentations, and interview prep. I’d have office hours that people would sign up for and they’d come to my “shop” during those hours so that I could help them. Very simple: they were helped, and I felt fulfilled because I was helping those students in a very focused way.


It was simple: clients were helped, I felt fulfilled


There were three things about the idea of owning a shop that I found very appealing:


  1. You get to decide what you’re selling, and you can be very intentional about it
  2. You’re connected directly with the people who benefit from your product or service
  3. You get to make the environment what you want it to be


These are things that I didn’t really experience in my corporate job and that I longed for and was determined to incorporate into whatever I ended up doing next in my career.


So, the recurring daydream about a lawnmower shop was a trigger. It reminded me of another daydream I had earlier in my life, which int turn reminded me of a job that I had found extremely fulfilling. And all of that together convinced me that I very much liked the idea of “hanging up a shingle” and providing people with a service that I felt uniquely qualified to provide. I also liked the idea of keeping shop, and having things the way I liked them. Of having my own style, my own way of welcoming clients and providing that service.


Daydreams and memories supported my next career move

Eventually, when I decided I wanted to be a coach for a living, I felt buoyed by those daydreams about the lawnmower repair shop. In my case, it led to me opening up my own “shop”, if you will, in the form of a coaching business. But it need not be that literal for everyone. It could simply provide indications about the type or style of work one should be trying to do more of.


This week:

Think about the daydreams that you’ve been indulging around the subject of work:


  • What kind of job/work/business scenarios are you playing around with in the back of your mind?
  • What are the common themes?
  • What do those themes tell you about what type of work, or what work settings you’d like to have more of in your work life?