What is your dream? Can you honestly answer that question? There are a variety of connotations associated with the phrase “chasing your dreams”. When you hear that phrase you think, starlight, fame, riches, success, legacy. I’m going to put this all to rest. Chasing your dreams is not about the end result, because the dream itself shouldn’t be about the end result. It should be about the intangible action of the dream chasing itself.Now I know, this is extremely ambiguous and confusing, but it is something for you to ponder. Chasing your dreams is about doing what makes you truly happy and fulfilled as an individual so that the world can receive the best of you and be inspired by you.
Dreams are not the glamourous fame and and wealth that is often depicted in pop-culture today. Dreams are the underlying intangible desires beneath the things that make you happy. So let’s throw this “I can’t have a life outside of chasing my dream” paradigm out the window because it is crap, and it is most certainly untrue. What is true, is that people chasing their dreams, are just chasing what makes them happy, what makes them fulfilled as a human being, and what affirms them most about their self-worth. You can do that right? Do less of the things that occupy empty space in your life, and more of the things that make you happy. Sounds pretty simple, huh? Maybe if you already know what it is that you want in life. For most of us, we haven’t the slightest clue. Here are a few ways to go about discovering your dreams.
Chances are, the monotony of everyday life has gradually suffocated your desire and ambition to pursue what makes you fulfilled as an individual. This does not mean that it is lost forever, it only means that these dreams are suppressed in the act of delegating necessary headspace for every day duties and obligations. You did not intentionally do this to yourself. You were right to step up as an adult, you were right to prioritize responsibilities and life sustainability. It was necessary for you to get a full time job, or maybe put your mental energy to finishing your degree. In this you have not failed. But if you’ve come to a place where monotony has taken hold of you, where your everyday responsibilities are inherent and take little mental energy because of its routine, then it’s time to look up and move forward.
It’s time to re-evaluate priorities. It’s time to evaluate where you place your mental energy, and where you place your left-over mental energy at the end of the day. So make some time for yourself. Lock the deadbolt, take a seat, close your eyes, and think. Think about your large responsibilities, such as paying your bills, taking care of your kids, monitoring your health. Now set those aside. Those are inalienable obligations. Now condense them, how much time does this REALLY take up? I understand, if you have kids, it takes a LOT. But this is not about all the time and energy you don’t have, this is about finding what’s available to you and capitalizing on it.
Okay, we’ve narrowed down our available time and energy. What’s left? Odds are, there is a reasonable amount of time left over. It’s highly likely that this time has been there for a while now. What do you currently do with it? Do you read? Do you watch television, or listen to music? Do you scroll through Facebook watching videos of cats falling asleep when eating? Are you glued to your cell phone playing Sudoku and angry birds, or are you just trying to catch up on the latest update on NBA free-agent rumors? Hm… There appears to be a common theme among all of these activities: entertainment. Keep an eye on this. We’ll be touching back on it here shortly.
Let’s jump back over to the original question- what is your dream? Struggling to answer that still? I know I did. It’s paradoxical, something so vital to the spark within your soul is often sacrificed to accommodate your daily life. This, is something that needs to be a priority. Remember the inalienable obligations I mentioned earlier? Insert “Chasing and pursuing dreams” among those. Now ask yourself what you enjoy doing? Is it spending an evening out with friends and family, building lasting relationships and memories? Is it reading a good book, and wishing you had the capability of providing the world with something similar? Think back to your childhood, what did you love doing? Did you love singing? Did you love creating lemonade-stands to make money? Did you love playing pretend, or make-believe, creating a world different from the one you live in? Did you love playing dress-up, and making yourself and other friends feel beautiful? I don’t know what it is for you, but the answer to “what is your dream?” should never be “I don’t know”.
We are humans, we are living, breathing beings, if we’re not growing, we’re dying. Now that scares me. Identify your deepest desires, the one’s you’re too embarrassed to even tell your significant other, or parents. It’s very likely that if you loved playing “pretend”, that playing pretend is NOT your dream. That’s not where I’m going with this, but think about what it was that you loved, visit with it, and apply this next technique.
Uncover the rationale behind it. Ask yourself WHAT did you love about playing “pretend” as a kid. Was it acting out absurd situations? Was it creating something uniquely different to enjoy novelty experiences different than that of which you do in your everyday life? For the sake of the example, let’s say it is to create something unique, something that resonates with your internal values and expresses them in ways that are more effective than words. Let’s narrow it down to “create”. This is the rationale, behind the dream. Now that you have the rationale, you can apply it in ways that are more relevant to who you are now and who you want to become.
Remember that “left-over” time we discussed earlier, the time you’re using to mentally check out at the end of a long day? Throw all that entertainment garbage out the window. You’re entertaining yourself to death. How about you use that time to pursue the things that make you happy, not things that numb your brain until your responsibilities rise with the sun the next morning. I promise, you’ll be exhausted by the time your head hits the pillow, but the fact-of-the-matter is that you SHOULD be exhausted at the end of your day. If you’re not, then you’re not living enough, you’re just existing. Existing provides no value to the world, and it leaves nothing behind when your existence in no longer.
Find what moves you, what’s calling you to something greater than yourself and pursue it with a relentless, passionate energy. Get excited about being exhausted, about running on fumes and dreams. I promise, your dreams provide you with more than enough fuel to last you a handful of lifetimes. So, what are you waiting for? Are you concerned about how the world will see you? Are you concerned about your efforts not being enough? That’s ridiculous and that’s most certainly NOT what chasing your dreams are about. Do not let fear of failure, or rejection scare you. Let it fuel you, so you can revisit your efforts, review them, and try again differently.
No, it’s not easy at all. It’s frustrating as hell, but in this you discover that in the act of repressing your dreams you also repressed, and significantly reduced your capability for happiness. Revisit your deepest desires and label it, pursue it in the face of fear and define its rationale. Don’t just ask “what is my dream?” ask “WHY is this my dream?”- in this, you will find your soul, your purpose, your vision. Life changes from here.
To those who are currently pursuing their dream, I commend you. To those taking the necessary steps to discovering their dream, I rejoice in you.
Side note: Here are some books I recommend for those desiring more out of life.
- The Alchemist- Paulo Coelho (F)
- The Fountainhead- Ayn Rand (F)
- How to Win Friends and Influence People- Dale Carnegie (NF)
- What to Say when You Talk to Yourself- Shad Helmstetter (NF)
- Think and Grow Rich- Napolean Hill (NF)
- The Slight Edge- Jeff Olson (NF)
Best of luck to all!