Turn your fantasies into fact

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If you're still searching for your dream job, or you haven't even worked out if such a thing exists, help is at hand. Not only is it the subject of the fastest growing area of self-help books, but it is also the theme of an increasing number of workshops.

Nick Williams is author of The Work You Were Born To Do - Find the Work You Love, Love the Work You Do and runs courses by the same title. Williams, the director of Alternatives, at St James's, London, left a sales and marketing job at Digital to follow his heart and pursue a path which involves "communication". People from all walks of life and age groups attend the workshops, he says. Some are stuck in demoralising jobs. Others have only a sketchy idea of something they want to be doing. But most just don't have a clue.

So how do such courses work? One hour into the course and people are swapping stories of moments which have most inspired them in their lives. Needless to say, not one of them had anything to do with the work they were currently doing. There was a buzz and an energy which would have made the heart of any human resources manager skip a beat. Exploring your passions as a potential money-making force, rather than regarding work in terms of a job, is the ultimate goal.

Money, not surprisingly, was one of the more popular topics of discussion. After all, claims Williams, it his one of the most cited reasons people choose for not following their dreams. People need to explore their relationship with money, he says, in order to recognise that doing what we love is more likely to help us make a living than doing something that doesn't really set us on fire.

Lifeshift - Doing the Dream by Andrew Ferguson (pounds 12.50 Breakthrough), is the latest book on the subject of dream-job seeking. The message is that anything is possible. Lifeshift aims to enable you to discover your skills and market them in new ways and includes a comprehensive directory - particularly useful for people who wish to go freelance or start their own business. At the Jacksons Lane Community Centre in Highgate, north London, Ferguson runs mini-workshops which offer an effective kick start for the whole process. On-going support and advice for "lifeshifters" is offered by the Breakthrough Network.

If you're stuck in an uninspiring job, and want to plan your freedom while you're at work - but are loath to be rumbled in the process - then John Wilson's Escape Kit might be the answer. A PC disk (pounds 17.50) has lots of useful information which is formatted in a slightly more nuts-and- bolts way than either of the two books.

Jo Ouston also encourages dreams. Having spent 18 years helping people to look at career change possibilities, her company, Jo Ouston & Co, offers one-to-one consultancies. At pounds 100 per hour, it's expensive, and a minimum of six sessions is recommended. The courses - which can involve using visualisation as a tool to develop clarity and direction - tend to uncover all kinds of unexpected issues.

Ouston is convinced that our search to find what we really want to do is on the increase because we no longer adhere to the old rules about "being good": ie doing as you were told at work and plodding along steadily to ensure a job for life and a plump pension.

These books and working sessions do not offer a quick fix. They simply help you to focus. If you feel that your life is lacklustre and you are dragged down by a job which saps your energy, taking some time to explore a new direction and being more creative about how you approach work could make life less of a grind and more like an adventure.

n Nick Williams at Alternatives: 0171 287 6711; Andrew Ferguson: 020 8347 7484; The Escape Kit: 01736 797 061; Jo Ouston & Co: 0171 821 8299