The pursuit of a dream is an elusive yet fulfilling quest that many go in search of. Ask any person who trades a career to pursue their vision and they’ll declare not having worked a moment in their life.
However, chasing a dream for others is filled with fear of the unknown. To place one’s trust in a universe that rarely interacts with them can be soul-destroying.
“We may fill our days playing the short game by collecting material things. Yet owning our dreams is the ultimate long game,” write authors Patrick Vlaskovits, Jonas Koffler and Neil Patel in Hustle: The Power To Charge Your Life With Money, Meaning And Momentum.
From an early age, we learn to romanticise the idea of following our dreams. However, the advice is largely ignored by parents and teachers since they claim dreams don’t necessarily lead to long-term success.
As adolescents approach their final years of education, the nostalgia of pursuing a dream shifts towards a permanent reality. Overnight, following your bliss, as the late American mythologist Joseph Campbell described this notion, is dowsed before it burns.
Author and motivational speaker Brendon Burchard writes in The Motivation Manifesto: “When we allow our attention to drift from our dreams and into the vast sea of unawareness, our motivation is dragged along behind it.”
Whether or not you’re following a meticulous plan in pursuit of your dreams, it is less about the fantasy itself that many people espouse.
The American author and poet Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” He was referring to the hard work required to bring dreams to fruition.
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” — Michelangelo
1. Dreams Emanate from the Soul
Your dreams are a call from the soul to pursue that which you love, yet serves others. You may have unique gifts upon which to paint your life’s canvas. They may be related to your talents, skills and genius. Listen to the call of your soul by harnessing your potential so that even the blind are aware of them. “We must move toward our dreams, and as we chase better outcomes, we get to choose our own adventure. In a word, we must hustle,” affirm authors Patrick Vlaskovits, Jonas Koffler and Neil Patel.
2. Don’t Give Up on Your Dreams
Many people give up on their dreams before they’ve had a chance to succeed, believing they are impossible to achieve. Pursuing dreams is hard and challenging, with little signs of success along the way. Though, everything can fall into place quicker than you expect when the timing is right. Your dreams can come alive when you least expect it, so be vigilant and tenacious in your pursuit. “Success and fulfillment in life rests on the unflagging ability to get up, to be ourselves, to chase our dreams with fire each day, to keep willing ourselves to the next level of presence and performance and potential” states author Brendon Burchard.
3. Focus on Small Steps
You may feel powerless at times due to unavoidable setbacks. Don’t be concerned with your next step, for it will reveal itself as you draw nearer. Each step of the journey will unfold at the right time. If you rush the process, you risk leaping into unchartered territory. If your intentions are well-meaning, success is imminent as long as you stay committed and disciplined.
4. Be Flexible
Flexibility is crucial for chasing your dreams, since opportunities you might not expect will fall into your lap. As a former TV personality once advised: “The key to my accomplishments is to take what was offered at the time and create my own success.” “The only thing to really be afraid of is not trying. Wilting in the presence of fear guarantees misery. That brings the death of dreams, which is, in many ways, the death of the individual,” says author Sean Patrick in Awakening Your Inner Genius.
5. Let Go of Excuses
Excuses can hold you back from attaining the greater prize since you are confined to your comfort zone. Those who achieve big, dream big. They fail often and are not afraid to try again because they have overcome their fear of failure. Don’t compromise your dreams by keeping them at arm’s length because you’re afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Playing it safe does not produce the results you deserve. Larry Weidel writes in Serial Winner: 5 Actions to Create Your Cycle of Success: “The three killers of dreams are detail-itis, excuse-itis, and the hesitation virus. And they all stem from doubt.”
6. Discover a Burning Desire
You must have an indisputable desire to achieve your dreams, otherwise you wouldn’t set out on the quest. Establish deep roots for your dreams to grow and nurture them daily. Create a compelling WHY? fuelled with purpose and intention. Insist on the best outcomes and you will be greeted with the success you deserve. Opportunities will present themselves in mysterious ways when you align with purpose. “The biggest obstacle between you and work you love is a lack of courage — the courage required to step away from “other people’s definition of success” and to follow your dream,” writes Cal Newport in So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.
7. Focus on the Journey
The most over-delivered advice nowadays is to enjoy the journey instead of focussing on the prize. Ask anyone who has achieved a level of success and they’ll tell you of the uncertain times etched in their minds. Life may never be the same once you achieve success. There’s no turning back, so savour the people you meet, the struggles, the laughter, the mental and emotional anguish. Most importantly, enjoy yourself and don’t lose sight of why you pursued the dream. Bernard Roth reminds us to consider the adventure in its entirety instead of setting out blindly: “When thinking about how to achieve your dream, don’t simply charge ahead. Pause and think about what the problem really is. Go to a higher level and consider what else might be at the heart of the problem.”
8. Embrace Failure
Fail often, fail fast and LEARN from your failures. If you’re not failing often, you’re not taking enough risk towards your dreams. It’s imperative to long-term success to reframe failure by seeing it as a guidepost, not a dead end. It is simply a form of feedback as to what needs improvement, not a STOP sign.
9. Sacrifices are Inevitable
It was Oprah Winfrey who once said: “You can have it all, just not all at once.” You needn’t work around the clock and deprive yourself of sleep to succeed, as Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington knows too well. Though, you should be willing to give up certain aspects of your life to yield long-term results. However, avoid sacrificing family life since this is a decision many people regret in retrospect. “So, to those who say, ‘I wish I were more motivated’ we reply: ‘Do not hope for motivation; choose an ambition to become motivated for. Fix on a dream and believe that it will see daylight and soon a great swell of enthusiasm will enliven you’,” asserts Brendon Burchard.
10. Be Willing to Compromise
Consider making changes along the way towards your dreams instead of following a calculated plan. Sometimes life may present you with unexpected detours; take them. Have faith, the detours will help you to gain essential skills for your dream to thrive. Steve Jobs credits taking a calligraphy class at college, which later helped him to create the fonts for the initial design of Apple computers.