Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream. – Khalil Gibran
Do you have dreams? Do you want to truly reach your greatest potential? Maybe you want to be a great sculptor. Perhaps you want to be a classically-trained guitarist. Maybe you want to develop a financially-successful blog.
I’ve Got News For You: Your Dreams Are Worthless
I’ve always been a dreamer. When I was younger, I dreamed I’d become a popular pop artist. Then I wanted to be a famous radio personality. More recently, I’ve dreamed of making money through my writing. Dreams alone will not help me reach my goals. In fact, dreams without action are worthless and even a waste of time. Let’s consider the ways your dreams might be holding you back.
1. Your Motivation Is Misplaced
Too often, we’re motivated by the wrong things. People often choose careers based on money or fame. Will these careers bring them lasting contentment? Probably not. If your motivation for creating a successful blog is money, your dream is already dead. Most people who dream of financial success in the creative arts never reach their goals? Why? Because when the money and fame don’t come fast, they lose momentum and give up.
My motivation has been misplaced in the past. I wanted to become a famous musician to be cool, rich, and famous. Along the way, I began to study music. I started to write and perform to be the best that I could be. That is a worthy motivation.
2. Your Goals Are Unrealistic
Dreams are nothing but hopeful thoughts. In order to make them reality, you have to work hard. You also need to be realistic. I’m not trying to be the naysayer here, but you’ll never reach your potential if you start with unrealistic goals. People don’t become maestros in a year. A best-selling novel isn’t written in month. Great athletes don’t become great in one season.
If you set goals too high, you’ll either fail or create something of poorer quality. In the past, I’ve set goals to write 50 songs in a year. I actually reached that goal a few times. While that may have been good practice, 90% of the product was mediocre. I’ve also set unrealistic goals in regard to driving traffic to my blog.
It’s good to aim high, right? Not exactly. Just as misplaced motivation can lead to loss of momentum, so can unrealistic goals. I’ve contemplated quitting writing many times because I’ve struggled to reach my unrealistic goals.
3. Your Dreams Hijack Your Life
I’ve watched too many people lose the things they love while chasing their dreams. I won’t fall for that trap. What will you be most proud of when you die? It won’t be your money. It won’t be fame. In fact, here are the biggest deathbed regrets. Here’s what people wished they’d have done:
- Courage to live a life true to myself
- Worked less
- Courage to express feelings
- Stayed in touch with friends
- Let myself be happier
People don’t regret not becoming rich and famous. People regret not being real. They regret working too hard. They regret not spending enough time with their loved ones. Spending too much time chasing a dream can steal your life from under you. Not only do you need the right motivation and realistic goals, you need to consider how you balance your goals with more important things in life. If the balance is not right, you may be headed for a crash.
4. You Don’t Take Action
How many people do you know who always talk about someday? You know, “Someday, I’m going to write a book,” or “Someday, I’m going to build my own home.” Here’s the problem: someday never comes. If you truly want to turn a dream into reality, you have to take action. A dream without action is a dead dream.
When you take action, remember the first three points:
- Have the right reason for achieving your dream
- Make sure your goals are reachable
- Don’t let your dream take over your life
Once you’ve aligned your dreams with healthy motivations and goals, the balance will follow. Then you can create a plan to take action. Remember, a dream does not come true without hard work. You don’t have to wear yourself out, but you do have to be consistent. That means being disciplined enough to write, practice, or learn every day.
5. Your Dream Is Selfish
The greatest entrepreneurs start projects without any expectation of compensation. They start these projects for two reasons. First, they want to challenge themselves to get better at whatever they do. Second, they want to create things that help others.
Does your dream serve a higher purpose? Do you want to help people in some way? Do you want to serve people? How about God?
I’ve discovered a few things about myself since I started blogging. First, when my writing is focused on myself, I lose momentum and get bored quickly. But when my writing is focused on God or others, I’m inspired. For instance, my Cult Trilogy has a powerful message about forgiveness and redemption. My Hip Diggs’ blog discusses ways to help others live more simply. When I write to help and encourage others, I feel better about myself. Funny how that works.
Here’s some more insight and information about our dreams. In this funny and blunt talk, Larry Smith pulls no punches when he calls out the absurd excuses people invent when they fail to pursue their passions.
You can reach your dreams. But those dreams might be exactly what’s getting in the way of reaching them. Check your motivation. Reevaluate your goals. Stay balanced. Take action. Find a greater cause.
Passion + Action = Success
In the end, you need these two ingredients. First, your dream has to be something you’re passionate about. Don’t chase passing interests. Find the one thing that makes you shine. Second, you need to take action. Do that one thing you love more than anything else. Don’t second guess yourself. Be willing to fail, but don’t give up. Don’t ever say “if only.” Push forward in the face of fear. Don’t let your dreams hold you back.
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