When people talk about their dreams they talk about them as something they are going to start working towards “as soon as.”
As soon as I pay my dues in this entry level job I will able to work towards my dream career.
As soon as someone gives me a chance my music/writing will become popular.
As soon as I find a boss who understands me, I’ll be able to make my job what I want it to be.
As soon as my partner stops stressing me out I will be nicer to them.
The truth is that no one hands you your dreams on a silver platter. People will agree with this consciously but make excuses about it subconsciously. It’s easier to blame others or external circumstances when the truth is always internal. It’s not about who is going to let you live your dreams or who is going to hand them to you — it’s who is going to stop you from reaching out and grabbing them yourself?
It’s no one’s job to give you a chance or seek you out in order to randomly help you along the way. The people who make progress towards their goals don’t achieve that because this passively happened to them, they made progress because they reached out and took what they needed to. We go on about how being “too realistic” can be poisonous to dreams.” We want to have goals that are a little bit scary. But there’s a lot of danger with being idealistic as well.
When we are idealistic we get caught up in how things should be, in a perfect world. In a perfect world every musician is famous, or at least the ones that play “good” music. In a perfect world “quality” musicians get more money and fame than pop musicians. But if your goal is to be a successful musician, you can’t operate on a paradigm that doesn’t exist.
As Kelly Cutrone said in her book (highly recommend), Your dreams are your ballbusters, they aren’t the yellow brick road. They demand that you make room for yourself instead of asking for room to be made for you. You can’t rely on idealism or waiting on others to feel charitable.
Most people are too selfish to keep you from living your dream if it benefits them. If you are a great PR executive that benefits your boss and your company, they would have to be masochists and hate money/success to not promote you and keep you happy. Can you be honest with yourself about the value you provide to them? Or, are you stuck in idealism world, convinced that working hard and being a good person are the same as providing value?
This isn’t to be taken lightly, self honesty is very difficult, it’s something you have to constantly work at. But the first step is to want to be honest with yourself instead of wanting the world to be different than it is. There are four phases of learning: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, unconscious competence. Just by making an effort, you’re already on step two.
Just keep checking in with your thoughts. Are they excuses? Are you blaming others or the way the world works? Or, are you working within that framework to bring about what is best for you, through concrete actions?