June 27, 2014
I guess everyone has dreams. It’s surprising how different those dreams might be. While the parents of girls kidnapped by Boko Haram are dreaming of the return of the daughters, there are others – in other places – who are praying that their kid will win some child beauty pageant. While some are praying for a way to get their family out of a conflict country so they don’t have to sleep in fear, others are praying that they will be able to afford a vacation to Florida. Funny how your geography changes how and what you “dream” about.
Even in blessed, fortunate nations like the US, the “dream list” has changed over the generations. During the Great Depression, families dreamed for a way to put food on the table. Today, people are praying that their YouTube channel becomes a success or that they will win some televised talent competition.
So here’s my advice to the “dreamers” out there:
1. Stop thinking and talking about it and start doing something about it. Research your options. Talk to smart people who have achieved what you want. Take a first step. Do something.
2. Understand that not everything will work out. Maybe you’re entitled to your dreams, but you’re not guaranteed to get what you want. Get a grip people (and a little self-awareness) – you’re not good at everything. You’re not going to succeed at everything. You won’t win at everything. Adjust your dreams accordingly.
3. Stop rationalizing. Quit making excuses for why you’re not realizing your goals. Or at least be honest about why you’re not reaching them. If you’re afraid or just lazy – at least admit it. There are books you can read and seminars you can attend that can help you. That is if you’re not too afraid or too lazy to read and attend.
4. Stop “limited-impact” dreaming. In other words, stop chasing things that ultimately don’t matter. Apply the principle of “what then?” for each dream. Are you dreaming of getting a college degree? Ask yourself, “what then?” Do you want to make lots of money? “What then?” Do you want to increase your platform, popularity or influence? “What then?” By asking this question you force yourself to consider the end result of a meaningful dream rather than getting stuck in self-serving pursuits.
5. The greater your opportunity, the more meaningful your dreams need to be. While people from any location in the world and many different social circumstances have achieved remarkable things – there are some people who certainly have more initial advantages and opportunities than others. If you are someone who has loving parents, an education, enough food, a car, freedom (and by the way – don’t take any of those for granted), then I think more is required of you. And when I say “more,” I’m talking about meaning. Meaningful dreams for a meaningful life that results in meaningful impact. I’ll say it more clearly: Stop dreaming about winning games and going on vacations – dream about something bigger than yourself.
So, what are your dreams and why do they matter? Feel free to share!