Switch off the Duty Button and Dream.


We’ve been told from an early age that we must do our duty. We have a duty to be good citizens, and a duty to work hard.

What does that leave for dreaming?

We need to dream – we need to be clear about what we are going to create with the work we do. If we don’t dream, we can get stuck in a rut. We end up following a script that is not of our own making. It is someone else’s idea of what we should do with our lives - whether that be our parents, our school teachers, or our work mentors and colleagues. Without a dream, we become machines, devoid of Purpose. We become slaves to the order of things. We can lose hope, become demotivated, and spiral into despair and depression.

So it’s really important that we make time to dream about what our ideal future looks like.

The problem I’ve found is that duty overwhelms the desire to dream. I have allowed myself to dream about what I want for my work, and in many ways this dream is coming true for me. However I’m constantly hampered by the little angel on my shoulder (or should that be devil?) that says:

“Ah yes, it’s all well and good dreaming about what you want, but don’t forget you have a duty that comes first. It’s time to stop dreaming, and knuckle down. And besides, what you’re dreaming of simply isn’t possible. Just focus on your duty.”

There is a constant conflict between what I ‘should’ do and what I dream of doing.

As soon as the duty ‘button’ is switched on, my dreaming falls apart. I give in to the notion that says ‘yeah I suppose I could do that, but the reality is that it’s never going to happen.’

Yet it is so important for us all to create a future that we absolutely love, that we own, and which reflects who we really are, what we are really capable of, and not what others think we are capable of.

Perhaps the way forward for the dreamers of us all is to park ‘duty’ while we get on with the business of dreaming.

And that means allowing time in our working day to dream. That could mean running a Vision session with your team, or just making time in your diary to reflect on where you want to go. Because the more time we spend creating this vision, the closer it comes to reality. The laws of quantum physics dictate that the more clarity we have around what we want, and the more we focus on that thing, the more likely we are to achieve it. Any elite athlete or military leader will tell you the importance of visualising what you want to achieve. And the same is true for anyone running a business working in the business who wants to achieve more for themselves and the prescription they were given as they grow up.

Of course we have a duty to ourselves, to our businesses, and to our families to get things done. I’m certainly not advocating that we all sit in a cave and dream our lives away. But the reality is that we spend 99% of our time doing our duty, leaving only 1% of time to dream about what we really want in life.

So why not dial up your dreaming to 10%, and switch off the Duty Button while you dream?

Justin Cooper