Life at Work

Dare to Dream

By Amy Joyce
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 7, 2005

Every day on my way to work, I walk over a message stenciled on a sidewalk near downtown Washington. It reads Dream More Work Less.

That little statement is trampled by countless people going to and from work every day here. And I wonder what they think when they step over it.

Me, I think work and dreaming don't have to be two separate things. In fact, I think work should be about dreaming. Not daydreaming about those shoes you saw in the store window last week, but rather dreaming about how to turn a job into more than a 9-to-5 gig that results in a paycheck.

Think about it: That person who dreams he can fix the world by starting a new literacy program at the local elementary schools -- should he work less? I doubt it. And I doubt he would want to.

We all have dreams -- even those of us who think we're done dreaming and just want to work less. By letting ourselves dream a little, and not separate the dreaming from work, maybe we can better our own world, or the one touched by our company's work.

There are people in our midst who are doing more than just working for the weekend. And it is that sort of thinker who is going to make the most creative project, get the most out of her day, find a reason to get out of his bed every morning.

How easy has it become for us to plow through our day without thinking beyond the actual duties we need to accomplish? We need to buy diapers, pay rent, purchase that new air-conditioning system. So there is (for most people) no room to work less. But there is room in just about every job and career to dream more and dream big.

Evan Clark is an accountant. To "Dream More Work Less" just wouldn't occur to Clark, who calls himself a workaholic.

He finds a ton of fulfillment in his job as chief executive of the Department of Commerce Federal Credit Union. In fact, he said he is "definitely living my dreams. I just love this job."

But it wasn't always that way. Not that long ago, he was chief financial officer at another credit union. But it was just work, and he knew he wanted something more. He wanted to build something himself. "This is the first time I felt totally engaged," he said over coffee earlier this year. "But I had to give up a lot to get here."

What did he give up? A comfortable lifestyle (and girlfriend) in order to hike the Appalachian Trail. He was 45, took a leave from his job and hiked for five months. It was difficult, but when he returned, he told his boss that he wanted to be chief executive of a credit union.

Clark eventually landed his dream job. But only after he took the time to learn that "you have to be willing to go out and get what you want."

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