To have the energy and passion you need for any dream, it’s got to be first and foremost about what you want to bring into your life. It’s easy to get distracted by what other people think, even people we love and care about, or even by what the headlines say.
We tend to listen too hard to other people’s ideas about what we should and shouldn’t try or what we’re good at or how we should spend our time and lives. We take the headlines too seriously and immediately apply them to ourselves, when they don’t.
This is especially true about dreams we want to go after but are afraid or unsure about. The whole idea is tender and wispy—it’s a dream after all, not real yet—so we can be extra sensitive to discouragement. Even the slightest unhealthy doubt or loaded question has the power to derail us.
Keep the good, forget the rest
Yes, your dream will affect the people you love, but ultimately it’s still got to be your idea. Your heart. Your joy. Or it won’t be good for you or anyone, and you won’t have the energy and passion you’ll need to push past the hiccups and roadblocks you’ll definitely run into along the way to making your dream come true.
Even when you do share your dream with people you love and respect, listen to their feedback with a critical ear. Keep the good (encouraging, constructive, fact-based, honest reactions), and forget the rest. In the words of American poet Walt Whitman,
“Re-examine all you have been told…and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.”
This is from the preface of his best-known poem, Leaves of Grass.
So before you spend time, energy, and/or money trying to make a dream come true—before you make one single move, beautiful—do a gut check. Get some distraction-free time alone, and ask yourself some deep-dish questions:
“Is this something I really want, or is it something I think I should do?”
Like going to law school only because everyone has always said you’d make a great lawyer. Or writing a book because your sister did it, and (be honest) you’ve always been a little competitive with her. Or studying in Paris even though you have no real desire to, but the ads make it seem so glamorous, the pics are amazing, and one day, you’d love to be able to tell everyone you did it.
Is this something I can truly see myself achieving?
Do you believe in yourself and in your ability to make this happen? Do you know you deserve it—and anything else you set your heart on and are truly willing to work for?
“How will making this dream come true affect the people who matter most to me, and am I prepared for that? Are they?”
Will it have no impact on them, a major impact, or maybe something in between? Do your significant others understand how important the dream is to you? How have they reacted to other changes that have happened in your life? How supportive do you need them to be, really? As long as your actions aren’t hurting or depriving anyone, are you strong enough to go ahead with this regardless of their reactions? Would you postpone the dream if they’re not supportive? Would you ditch it?
Deep-dish questions like these are tough but super-important, so be completely honest with yourself, beautiful someone, and if you hit an “I don’t know,” take a break and come back to it. You can’t “not know.” It’s your dream, your heart, your life, and no matter how small or huge it is, knowing matters because it matters to you.