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On NOT “Following Your Dreams”

In: Life,

You know, this whole “follow your dreams” thing is getting a little old, right?

Coming from me, that’s probably surprising.

But the problem is that so much of it is fluff. So much out there encourages you to start “living the life of your dreams,” while frolicking on a big white puffy cloud and nibbling on a tray of bonbons. Let’s all join hands now in our camel-colored moccasins and braid one another’s hair while singing to the god of daydreams, already.

The truth of that matter is that nobody knows what a damn bonbon is in the first place, and secondly, that nobody knows what their “dreams” are, either.

Did that sound like me yelling? Because I was totally yelling.

Here we are running around like a pack of rabid tortoises, drooling all over ourselves and trying, with no avail, to become all “enlightened” and “free” and “happy” and “zen” and “I-don’t-know-why-I’m-doing-this-but-I-only-own-100-things-ish-because-clearly-I’m-not-a-good-person-if-I-own-more-than-one-pair-of-shoes.” (Assuming tortoises wear shoes, of course.)

I guess that’s what they call a movement. Movement…crusade…tribe…cult…still-not-thinking-for-ourselves.  Aaacck.

Anyway, back to the flock of tortoises. Here we are, trying to make like foxes and run into the wind, but WE HAVE NO IDEA WHERE WE’RE RUNNING TTTTTTTTTOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

If the advice is to follow our dreams, how can we do that if we haven’t first taken the time to figure out what those even are?

We’re a fast food nation. We demand speed. We want everything on the double. And dreams are no exception. So instead of taking the necessary time to figure out what they are, we opt to dive into whatever we think might suit our fancy at the time. And then we’re disappointed when we realize that—wait a minute—we aren’t that crazy about this or that after all, and since we aren’t crazy about it, we don’t put the necessary time and effort into it. And if we aren’t doing that, then nothing’s going to happen: certainly not dreams coming true.

If we want all that sexy enlightenment and freedom and happiness and zen, we’ve got to take the time to figure out what path will bring us those things. Most people assume that they’ve simply got to do a little “soul-searching.” So they sit down, pour themselves a cup of coffee, do a little thinking, and then assume that they’ve got the answer.

If only it were that easy.

The only things that we know, are that which we’ve experienced. So in doing soul searching, we’re actually performing an inventory of the things we’ve done in the past.

But what about everything else out there that we haven’t yet experienced?

If you really want to increase the quality of your life, the key is not soul searching. The key lies in getting out there and doing things that you haven’t done before. Because the things you’ve already been doing haven’t been that compelling, or you’d probably be on the road to sexy happy zen land by now—or at least have a better idea of where it lies on a map.

It requires some guts! It requires some risk-taking. It requires new experiences. And it requires you to get off your butt and start doing something: not just thinking about what you might like. There’s so much out there that you don’t even know you like yet, and one of those things might just be the very thing you’ve been missing this entire time.

New is necessary.


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48 thoughts on "On NOT “Following Your Dreams”"

  1. Dooncan says:

    Ever thought about just sticking at one thing and earning your passion about it? If you stick to one thing for long enough (instead of hopping around waiting for instant satisfaction) then you build up skills, experience and confidence – with these you will earn autonomy in your work place and feel like you are making a difference. I won’t harp on anymore…just try reading a NY Times article called ‘Follow a career passion? Let it follow you’ written by a very wise guy called Cal Newport. All the best 🙂

  2. Marr says:

    I’m literally about to cry. This seems like it should be common sense but I am just now realizing what my life needs. I graduated high school almost a year ago and since then I’ve been SO scared. I’m in college majoring in nursing but I don’t know what my passion is. Now I realize that it is because I DON’T EVER DO ANYTHING. I never try new things, have new experiences, go out and explore, etc. I just sit at home and expect life to come to me. I need to get out. I need to live. I want to experience anything and everything. Thank you so so so much for this article.

  3. jwehner says:

    the most inspiring thing I have read yet today, thanks. 😉

  4. Knut Holt says:

    it all begin with dreams, but if you make your dreams come true, you inevitably kick others aside and those will struggle to not let you do so.