The concept of following your dreams can be a sticky subject. There are some who feel you should chase them with abandon. Others think you should never quit the day job, sit back, and try to build something constructive in your free time. Both are right. It all depends on your current level of experience, training, free time, and willingness to adopt a different lifestyle. For example, as a young 20-something aspiring painter, you might be able to move from town to town taking on odd jobs, visiting the galleries, living a bohemian lifestyle. If you’re 45 with three kids and decide to jump into film school as a novice? That might be harder to achieve.
But does that mean you should never follow your dreams? Does that mean that from that age, you are condemned to living the life you have chosen? Not always. In this post, we hope to better demonstrate why people can and should follow their dreams, and how they can do so more wisely than they perhaps envisioned. It’s not always an all-or-nothing approach.
With the following advice, we hope you can agree:
You Can Gain Regardless
Let’s suggest, for our example, that you wish to become a journalist. There are many staff writing positions available, and you have somewhat of a careful portfolio of work. You wish to try and make your way, and so try to find an entry level position to help you blossom and gain in your ability. You decide that in order to gain the job, you need to write much more, and practice your style. So you do. And then you apply. None of your applications get a response.
For some, this could leave people feeling somewhat dejected and out of the water. It can feel tiring to have that happen. It’s an obstacle, of course. However, instead of worrying about this too much, consider what you’ve gained. Firstly, you’ve managed to improve your portfolio and outreach, giving yourself a much more substantial online presence than before, even if it’s just part of your website. You’ve updated your CV and covering letters. You’ve managed to gain a better foothold in your professional offering and know how to market yourself more directly next time.
This means you gain regardless. Who’s to say that next time won’t be the time you gain the position you want? Who’s to say that added writing experience wouldn’t have ensured you become a better writer? If you can do this, then you can gain regardless.
You Need To Know Your Potential
Some of us hold dreams that we know we have at least some talent, skill or interest in. For example, if you wish to become a famous painter, odds are that you’ve picked up a brush at some point in your life. However, without chasing your dreams in this way, you might never know what you are capable of. You should actually follow your dreams, if only for the purpose of knowing your limits, or what you have to improve.
Let’s take television talent shows for example. Those acts that go through are often well rehearsed and have talent, and while our guilty-laughing at those who fail miserably is often resting on a relatively sad event, having a wake-up call like that can be appropriate for some people. If you follow your dreams, then you will likely find a better sense of yourself and an understanding of how skilled or talented you actually are.
It’s Not Just A Vague Flight Of Fancy
When we wish to follow our dreams, we can start to think along vague lines. But your daily lived experience is often not vague. It has plans, schedules, events, things to attend. A vague flight of fancy can often be a problem if it never grows from this. However, the actual content of following your dreams is anything but this.
After all, if you want to be a musician, what would you do? Simply start a band and hope things go well? Perhaps. Or, you could attend Kent State for example, learning some of the timeless rules of music production, making connections with other talented people, and becoming qualified in a skill. There’s a vast difference here between planning for the future and just expecting things to work out.
We can often attribute those who are able to follow their dreams as those who experience good luck in life. But often, hard work is just as responsible. Do certain people or certain groups get to a point where fame, recognition and other benefits help them continue with ease? Potentially. But that’s not to say that those people haven’t put hard work into them. For example, you might not like certain hip-hop music, or metal music. Does that mean that the popular acts put less effort with their music production, performance or writing lyrics? For the most part, no.
Hard work can help define anyone for the better. And there’s no hard work more appropriate than following your dreams. It can help you become a better version of you, someone who has something to contribute, and if anything, can be enjoyable. After all – we only have a limited number of years on Earth, and so to do so achieving something we love can be a fantastic measure of feeling connected to the hobbies and activities we’re chasing. In other words – it gives you purpose.
Achieving The Dream Is Not Everything
It might be that you’re never going to be the most famous film director. Perhaps you’ll never be featured in the TOP 40 best selling records of your country. Maybe your music videos will never get more than 15,000 views, or perhaps your novels, self-published, will only pick up a smattering of readers here and there.
That’s fine. We’re not saying you should settle for mediocrity of course, it’s okay to have big ambitions and to do everything in your power to get there. But remember, sometimes this isn’t the goal. In fact, it’s healthier if it isn’t. Simply falling in love with your craft is the most important. This way, even if you don’t reach success, you have something that nurtures you. You can focus on becoming a master at it. And if you do this, you are likely to become a better version of you, thoroughly.
Perhaps you will meet people along the way. Perhaps you will travel to places, get involved with communities, organize events, and have plenty of fun. That can sometimes be worth more than the best success in the world. And, if that comes knocking, then you’ll likely feel comfortable and happy with the progression. This itself can be a wonderful and worthwhile thing to experience, and it can give you a sense of potential and comfort in your approach. Achieving the dream, or at least the highest ambition you have, isn’t everything. Because you might be rewarded with something better.
You Can Specialize
We often think that in order to achieve something, we need to be ‘all or nothing’ with our progression. This can be a motivating thing to feel, but it can also lead people to quit their jobs or give up what stability they have for a dream that might not come true. Remember – you can specialize. If you have free time, you can often arrange it. It’s better to hold a full time job, be secure, and write your novel for one hour a night over three years than it is to write the novel in six months and continually worry about your financial security. You can specialize in this way.
With this advice, we hope you’re better able to overcome your guilt for wanting to follow your dreams. Finally, we wish you nothing but the best of success.