When you are a child, dreams are like ice cream. There is sheer excitement in exploring a ton of different flavors. After all, children are reminded they can become anything they want. If Spiderman doesn’t work out, they can choose between being an astronaut, NBA All-Star, or a Youtube sensation. Dreams are a shiny idea that eagerly awaits them in a distant future. Like selecting a treat from a vending machine, all they must do is believe, press the right buttons, and the world will deliver.
But with age comes the debris of life, allowing disbelief to creep in. The voice inside our head gets more accustomed to pointing out the hurdles than the possibilities. Year by year, we begin to trade in our catalog of options for an anxiety provoking rose ceremony where we pick one outcome and hope for the best.
Young adults balance unbridled expectations with practicality. Dream too big and you are a liability. Dream too small and you are a failure. There is an invisible, bastardizing process where passion evaporates and the youthful bright-eyed child gradually becomes a member of the dim, grinding adult workforce. They go from being the essence of energy and hopeful exhilaration to riding through this world on fumes.
I ask, what if we held on to our childlike ambitions? What if we still thought we were Spiderman waiting for our moment to save the world? What if we held on to the belief that the betterment of the world depended on us and our accomplishments? If you feel like you are drudging through your days alive, but not living, it is time to wake up. Every dreamer must work to keep his or her gas tank full.
You deserve it. Big dreams are not for the few, worthy souls wandering this earth. There are no criteria of eligibility or standards you must meet to follow the passion filled purpose within you. Everyone deserves to use their unique gifts to not only contribute to the world around them, but also to feel the joy and contentment that comes from that accomplishment.
Tune out the noise. Distractions are everywhere we look and so is judgment. Are you living to fit into an “idea” of who you should be and what you should be doing? Are you more concerned with perception and perfection than with the fulfillment that comes from being authentic to yourself? When you are alone and vulnerable in your own space, where do those old, dusty dreams rest? Find them, dust them off, and bring the focus of your aspirations to mind. The truth you carry alone in silence, is the one worth preserving.
Carefully craft your company. Surround yourself with dreamers and supporters. Be with people who show up when you fail and when you succeed. Eliminate the negative emotional vampires in your life and draw on the positivity of like-minded, resilient dream seekers.
Seek out those who came before you. There is always someone who laid down the foundation for someone else to take the next step. Do not be intimidated by or avoid those who have achieved more. Instead get curious and learn the secrets to their success. Time is critical, so do not waste it by making the same mistakes someone already made going the direction you are heading.
Stay uncomfortable: Humans seek comfort, but comfort can be the direct enemy of progress. When we seek to find a “safe” tomorrow, we can avoid the adversity of a driven life that produces meaningful outcomes for ourselves and others. Before we know it, we have traded in our ambition for the paycheck and the validation of others. If you are not slightly uncomfortable on your dream journey you are not on the right path. You are either living in complacency or misery. Get excited and get comfortable being uncomfortable.
A dream is not a chore. If work feels like work, you are losing the frequency within you. When you can’t seem to pack it up or stop thinking about what is next, you have successfully found your passion. Living out your dreams is a privilege that happens to come with struggle and setbacks. Living numb day to day is a means to an end. Do not walk through life as if it is one never-ending checklist. Grab it and let it serve you so you can serve others.
Let the journey be the prize. Goals are great. We need long-term goals and short-term goals. However, be careful not to let the outcome you are seeking become the finish line. We are meant to continually evolve and grow. There is no finish line, just a process that evolves us and propels us forward. Appreciate every leg of the journey and hold it in a state of gratitude. You are not meant to “complete” a dream, you are meant to live it. That means that as long as you hold breath in your lungs, you are to live in alignment with the betterment of yourself and the dreams you hold dear.
Your dreams feed your soul. They are the anchor to your worth. They are the fuel to a driven life. At all ages, we must hang on to our dreams with an iron grasp. Within these dreams lies the fabric of our gifts and the roadmap to our contribution for a better tomorrow. I shall leave you with the wise words of James Dean, “Dream as if you will live forever; live as if you will die today.”