One of my favorite questions to ask participants in a team session is “What is the one thing you would do with your life if you didn’t have any other commitments?” The answers people give are very interesting as many say they want to give back. Recognizing that they are ‘privileged’ these individuals would want to use their skills, resources and time to give back to their community by helping educate children, helping poor women develop skills to build a livelihood or supporting hospitals in impoverished areas. Others have long standing dreams they were never able to fulfill. I met a Managing Director who always wanted to be a pilot, an HR Director who dreamed of being a pediatric doctor, a CEO who wanted to write a cookbook and a Finance Manager who wanted to be an anthropologist and publish his own coffee-table-photo-books that would cover his journeys.
These are all fantastic dreams and amazing insights into the souls of individuals. Of course the next tough question is always: If that is your dream, then why are you not pursuing it?
The reasons I get for not following ones dreams range from:
- I don’t have the time
- I am scared
- I don’t know how to do it
- I need to have a stable income to look after my financial commitments
- My daughter is getting married in 5 years
- It is too late now
- I don’t know where to start
- I can’t take the risk
- It’s too difficult to do
- What if I fail
- I would let my parents down if I make this change and throw away the important position that I have created
All true. All these are good enough reasons not to follow your dreams…right?
So what to do? How can you follow your dreams right now without giving up everything you have worked for? I would suggest you:
1. Start By Taking Small Steps
As Dr. Gregory House, from the TV shows says; “Doing things changes things. Not doing things leaves things exactly as they were”. It is all about starting to approach things differently. So if you want to become a writer, start a blog or publish an e-book. If you want to become a musician, upload a video on YouTube and shamelessly promote it as much as you can. If you want to help educate people, associate yourself with an NGO and on Saturdays you can give back to the community by teaching underprivileged kids to read and write. If you always wanted to be a doctor, then take a first aid or CPR training class.
“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs
2. Stay focused
Look at all the people that you admire in this world. What is the one thing they have in common? It’s their laser like clarity and focus on achieving their dream. Steve Jobs was not distracted by the million other things he could have sold, Mandela’s only focus was to bring down apartheid, Jake Welch’s sole aim was to make GE number 1 or 2 in every market.
It is all about knowing what you want and staying away from distractions. As they say, you know a company’s (or person’s) strategy on the basis of what they spend their time on. The same applies for achieving your dream. Spend time on one specific goal and stay away from the numerous distractions that come your way.
The definition of perseverance is “to continue in a course of action, even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.” Some steps in achieving your dream will lead to dead ends while others will get you closer to your goal. The only option you don’t have is to stop trying and give up. Don’t give up too easy…it’s your dream we are talking about!
– Paul Keijzer