Are you dreaming the impossible dream?
Today's topic is how to know when it’s time to abandon your dreams. The quick and dirty tip is don’t, but if you do, consider the dream and the journey.
Listener Lionel writes:
How do you know whether certain dreams are still attainable so as to discard those that aren't in order to focus ones attention to those that are still within reason?
You’re growing up. Adults know what’s realistic. They are mature, down-to-earth, responsible, and often boring beyond belief. But never fret, you’ll get that way too. Today’s episode will help.
I’m biased. I love dreamers. But we’ve created a culture--especially in business--that stifles most dreamers. We give caring advice. “I just want you to be successful.” “Be realistic.” “Don’t make waves.” “Let’s just benchmark and adopt best practices.” “We want what’s best for you.” These all mean one thing: drop your dreams, stifle your creativity, and do what your parents, your peers, or your company wants you to do. Do what’s safe. Almost always, it means chasing a steady paycheck. That’s great advice for your paycheck, but I’m not sure it’s great advice for your soul. Yes, be practical enough to put food on the table. But keep your dreams! Growing up doesn’t have to mean growing resigned, but often, that’s what happens.
Know Whether or Not You’re Making Progress
Should you drop a dream? That depends. Are you making progress? How would you know? You can look at how far you are from your dream, or how far you’ve come. Which option you choose makes a difference!
My dream is a career in broadcast media. I’m smart, funny, know a ton about business, yet have an open mind, a disarmingly charming style, and impeccable taste in brightly colored sneakers. (Rachel Maddow, if you’re listening, you really need a business correspondent with a cool name like “Stever”.) But when I look at the distance to my goal, I despair. I compare myself with Oprah. By age 30, her audience could populate a third-world country and her income could buy more sneakers than I can fit in my closet. By comparison, I’m a total failure. I should just give up and go into life insurance sales. “It’s a shame about little Timmy. If you’d taken out a policy on him, at least you’d be able to console yourself with a couple million dollars. It’s not too late to take out a policy on little Sally. Can I sign you up?” I don’t think so.
When I measure how far I’ve come, the story is different. I started in a traveling New Age commune with only a pair of jeans, sandals, a polyester leisure suit, and a loincloth to my name. Now, my podcast audience could populate an entire conference room! I have a pair of fluorescent sneakers. I’ve done comedy improv, had a regular radio segment on entrepreneurship, was on CNN-fn a few times as an expert, and get paid big bucks for speaking. I even have a book coming out … someday … Looking at how far I’ve come, my dream feels much more possible and much more inspiring.