Most of us picture the day we finally make it — so to speak. Accept our version of the Nobel Prize, whatever that is. Maybe you imagine yourself holding an Oscar, or taking the first step on Mars.
Ultimately, we all just want to make a living from something we enjoy — something we find fulfilling.
Movies. Space Exploration. Medicine. Video games…
We sure do get sidetracked though, by so-called “big dreams,” which are just little dreams in disguise.
See, taking the first step on Mars is just your little dream. The dream beyond your dream? Space travel. Maybe that means designing a new spacesuit, or part of the ship that makes it to another planet.
Sometimes you need to devote yourself to a vision, not just a personal dream. Contribute to something amazing, without becoming the star. Other times, you have to let go of your first little dream and figure out the driving force behind it — what made you want that?
If you can do that, you can find the dream beyond your dream, and stand a fighting chance at true fulfillment.
Don’t get stuck on your first dream.
Millions of people can’t ever think beyond their first encounter with success. They just won’t let it go. They meet a movie star as a kid, or some Wall Street tycoon. They wed that experience to their idea of stardom.
It blinds them to all the other opportunities out there. They’ll wind up in misery, chasing after a ghost.
Instead, branch out. The more you learn about your craft, your profession, the more you discover the naivety of childhood dreams. You stumble upon paths to the same end — doing what you enjoy. Contributing to a larger vision that means something to you.
Find your hidden dreams.
Think of your first dream as the shimmery surface of everything you want. Dive down, and you’ll see a ton of other marine life.
Things you never even knew existed.
It’s hard to let go of that wildly ambitious first dream. The one where you put in all the hours, try every piece of advice under the sun, and eventually get what you always wanted.
We all know the success story of someone who bit into their first dream and never let go. It’s riveting. We partake in their exuberant triumph over all the odds, all the years of failure.
We want that to be us so bad. Everything else feels diminished by comparison. Plan B never feels good enough.
Hardly anyone gets their first dream.
Dwayne Johnson wanted to play professional football. Then he got injured. His team cut him. So he became a wrestler. Then a big-time actor. Imagine if he’d insisted on his first dream.
That’d be a pretty sad story, especially given his success in Hollywood — which he didn’t even plan on.
Not everyone turns out that lucky. The point is that you never know where your future’s going to take you. Here’s a list of all my possible dreams:
Doctor who writes medical thrillers
Olympic track star
Each time, I got really good at these things. Then something pushed me off. Maybe fate. Only one thing has ever mattered. I tried them. It didn’t work out. I moved on to something even better.
Love your current dream.
Whatever you’re doing, love the hell out of it. Everything you learn from one dream, you can transfer to the next.
So maybe give your first or second pipe dream another look. Be honest with yourself if it’s not working out. That’s not cowardly. It’s not the same as giving up because you lack follow-through or discipline.
What you’re doing is exploring all your options, all your various interests and talents. Do that, and you won’t regret it.
Plan C might even take you back around to Plan A.
There’s lots of ways to pursue your dreams, as long as you understand what you really want — and not just the first version of it you saw on television. Don’t get hung up on your fantasies. Let go, and you just might find lots of other great opportunities right in front of you. Or you can walk right past them, into the desert.