Hands up if you can honestly say you are following your dreams?
Not too many hands going up, I would imagine.
Most of us harbour ambitions to do something a bit creative or interesting with our lives, yet time slips by and many of these dreams remain unrealised.
Whether it is writing a novel, travelling, learning to surf or walking the Kokoda Track, most of us have a bucket list of goals and ambitions we are keen to tick off.
But most of us never get to follow our dream.
Life interjects, bills pile up, and sometimes we have to do jobs we don’t want to do just to make end meet.
Others don’t achieve their dreams because they have become masters at procrastination, putting off their ambitions for when the time is ‘ just right’.
Fact is: There will never a perfect time to do anything so we need to stop inventing reasons to delay doing what we are passionate about and seize the day.
Life is not a dress rehearsal and you don’t want to find yourself in your later years burdened by a heap of broken dreams and regrets, and resentful of others’ bravery and successes.
So what are some of the psychological barriers that hold people back?
1. They listen to their fears
So many people let fear rule their life and largely they are afraid of things that will never happen.
Perhaps they had a parent who was a worrier and they picked up the trait as a child or they became fearful as adults.
Either way, this is an emotion that will run your life if you let it.
Don’t get me wrong, you should be cautious when the appropriate time calls for it, but there is a big difference between caution and crippling fear.
Caution is based on the logical and measured assessment of a scenario, while fear is often a knee-jerk, illogical reaction.
The next time this kind of irrational fear surfaces, be sure to see it for what it is.
2. They let their past define them
Perhaps things have not always gone your way.
Maybe an investment went sour or you have fallen short of your financial goals, but you should not let what has happened to you in the past define what you do, and who you are, in to the future.
Just because you faced a bit of bad luck or made an error of judgment in the past, does not mean that history will repeat itself.
A lot of what people call fate is really their own inertia.
3. They listen to dark clouds
Some people are glass-half-empty types.
They see the negative in every situation and they love finding fault with people.
I call them the dark clouds and I avoid these types as much as possible.
They may not mean to, but essentially they are passing their own fears of failure on to you.
If you hang around these people long enough you will start to imbibe their negative views on the world.
When you are about to embark on a passion or ambition you need encouragement and positivity, so avoid these types at all costs.
4. They lost sight of their dreams
Then there are those people who are itching to do something a bit different — to get in touch with an inner passion that will truly fire them up — but they have no idea how to find it.
Perhaps they have been working so hard in a job that they don’t enjoy for so long they have lost sight of their values and interests.
They may find themselves getting frustrated at the little things in life because they have no idea of how to address the much bigger problem of having lost sight of their dreams.
This happens, too, when we become parents and our desires must necessarily take a back seat to raising a child.
My advice is to spend some time alone to reconnect with what it is that makes you excited to be alive.
5. They don’t plan for the future
Chasing your dreams, of course, is never as simple as quitting your job, fleeing all responsibility and running off into the sunset.
Many people reach an age where they would like to tick off more items on their bucket list but they feel trapped because they have not planned for the future.
Perhaps they spent all of their money on frivolous things or have never really learned to save and they will struggle to fund their projects.
You never achieve your dreams without a measure of sacrifice so ask yourself what you can reasonably give up.
Perhaps you can work four days a week instead of five in order to devote more time to a small business on the side.
You will still have a measure of responsibility, but you will be ensuring that you satisfy your ambitions at the same time.
Look for what you can go without in order to gain what is really important to you.
And just in case you need them, here’s…
4 reasons why it’s important to follow your dreams.
- They make life worth living – when you’re struggling your dreams will be your reason to keep going.
- To prove all the naysayers wrong – the best way to get back on all the people who said you’d never make it is to prove them wrong.
- To make you and your family proud – enjoy the pleasure of doing something you’ve always wanted to do and see how those around you will share your excitement.
- If you are not following your dreams you’re following somebody else’s – maybe you’re following a path your parents told you was the right one for you, or maybe you’re working for a boss following his dreams. As far as you know they aren’t even his dreams – he could be just following the path his parents told him to – just like you are.
Life is short, you only live once so why not spend it doing something you love.
Also published on Medium.