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Curt Rosengren on Living Your Dreams

Curt Rosengren on Living Your Dreams

Getting people fired-up about their dreams is priority number one for Seattle-based career coach Curt Rosengren, who goes by the title “passion catalyst.” Rosengren spent years as a marketing consultant for tech companies, but following the dot-com bust, he decided to try something completely different. He now works with coast-to-coast clients, helping them pinpoint their dreams and reach their goals through his Occupational Adventure Guide model. Here, Rosengren offers his advice to those pursuing their dreams.

What do you do as a “passion catalyst?”

I help people figure out what lights them up, what kind of difference they want to make in the world and how to create a career based on that. It’s really taking the “Whee, this is fun” element and the “I want to make the world a better place; how do I do that with my career choices?” element, and combining them with something that allows you to thrive in the process.

What’s your approach to pursuing dreams?

My definition of passion is the energy that comes from bringing more of you into what you do. Very simply it’s being who you are; it’s doing what you’re naturally drawn to. The analogy I always use is you’re taking water from one place to another. Obviously, you don’t have to power water to flow along a riverbed; it just happens. The water is taking its natural course. It’s the same thing with passion. So then the question becomes, “Well, how do I do that? So how do I bring that passion to the picture?”

What are the typical misgivings you observe in individuals during the first 30 days?

One thing that people typically—and often erroneously—believe is that a career change is an overnight thing, where Friday night “I’m this” and Monday morning “I’m that.” Career change tends to be a long-term thing. One of the things that ends up happening in this immediate-gratification culture is that we look at our reality and we say, “Realistically, I just can’t jump like that. Because that’s going to take X amount of money and I’ve got to keep a roof over my head.”

How do you encourage people at the start of their journey?

People look at their reality and say, “Well, I can’t.” All too often, they translate “I can’t” into “I can’t ever,” when really all that means is “I can’t right now.” One thing I always encourage people to do is to sit down and say, “OK, well, when could I?” They should not just look at the future and say, “Someday, I’m going to do this.” They should say, “Here’s where I want to go. That’s the change I want to make. Now from this point, what kind of track can I take?”

What steps can people take in the first 30 days of pursuing their dreams?

One thing that might be really valuable is to answer this question: What does my change timeframe look like? Once you figure out your timeframe, start to plan out what steps you need to take. Put it down on paper or in your journal. Once you start to map out what you want to do, it’s also valuable to bring someone else into the picture; then you’ve created some degree of accountability. It’s a lot easier to let something slide when nobody else knows what you’re doing.

How do you help people tailor their dreams to their lives?

A lot of people get stuck with making a list of what they love doing and then see if there’s a career there. That’s just a starting point.

You and I might both say, “I love cooking” or “I love photography,” but the underlying reasons why we love something can be completely different. For example, travel photography is one of the things I love and a big part of the reason of why I love it is the exploration and discovery. Exploration and discovery is a component that tends to be in place whenever I’m on fire about something. So it’s not just asking what I love doing. It’s then about taking each one of those things and asking, “Why?” It all starts with understanding why you love what you love, identifying those underlying characteristics to help you evaluate situations and identify potential paths.

How do you reward yourself for making progress during the first 30 days?

You can build that into your process. Sit down and brainstorm what motivates you, what inspires you and what’s going to feel like a meaningful reward. You can process goals, like “I want to put X number of hours a day into this” or “I want to journal about this every night for half an hour.” Then you can track your progress as you achieve milestones and results. So set goals and reward yourself for meeting those goals.

How can you keep progressing after the first 30 days?

One of the things that’s really important is to look at what’s going to help keep you motivated and energized as you move forward. Everybody can come sprinting out of the gate. But keeping in the race and figuring out what supports you for the long term is really important.

SIGNATURE QUESTIONS

What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?

I am paraphrasing Thoreau: Don’t worry if you build castles in the sky. That’s where they should be. Now build a foundation under them.

“The best thing about change is...”

…possibility. When clients realize that there are all sorts of different paths that could really make them feel lit-up about their work and their lives, I see this weight just lift off their shoulders, because it really means that the world is rich with potential and possibility.

What’s the best change you have ever made?

My “passion catalyst” work. I could divide my career into “before” and “after.” “Before,” I was showing up for another day of work, essentially an imposter. “After,” I feel the opposite: completely on fire. It’s an amazing transformation. It opens up the door to a much richer, more fulfilling life.

For more information on Curt Rosengren, visit www.passioncatalyst.com.

Posted: 12/20/07