Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How to Follow Your Dreams

How could I convince you to follow your dream? (And enjoy doing it!)

Step 1: Drink coffee………. I wish.

One of my favorite questions to ask people is: if money didn’t matter, what would you want to do? Most of the time I get a response that sounds like, “it would be really cool to ____.” This is often followed by some sort of passionate fantasy of what their dream life is, and then I say:

Why don’t you do it?

You wouldn’t believe the amount of excuses people make and you’re probably thinking of the practicalities that are preventing you from achieving your dreams and thinking it’s just not that easy. Well, you’re right––it’s not. But who says sitting back dreaming on isn’t also hard?

Before I sound like a know-it-all, I should tell you that there was a time where I graduated high school and went to pursue an engineering degree at some college, just because I was good at math and everyone told me I would do great things and make great money. What am I doing now? Pursuing a career in film and theatre––because I love it! I had this change of mind when I didn’t have the pressure or influence of others to go to college get a job get married have kids and retire. 

To tell you a bit about my dreams, I aspire to be a published author and working filmmaker, neither of which are easy tasks. But if I’m being completely honest, I enjoy writing books every single day that I do it, even if I’m not getting paid for it, and that after a hundred(s) more rejections something will happen (persistence!).

I was talking to someone recently who was attending university and doing very well, but didn’t seem to be particularly satisfied. They told me, “I’m almost there, then I’ll get to where I want to be.” I’m not saying this is wrong, but suffering through a college course to get to somewhere you think you’ll be happy sounds kind of silly, doesn’t it? Because how can you know that you’ll be happy doing something in the future, if the path leading you there is just something to “get passed.” 

There is no secret formula making your dream a reality, but if I had a few minutes to try and convince you to give it a try, these are some of the things I’d hope to inspire you.

Be Realistically Unrealistic

Okay, Song, what in the world does that mean? So first think about what you’d dream of doing––how unrealistic does it sound? Is it something you love

Winning the lottery is not realistic. Sorry.

I mean this in a sense that many people feel that their dream life is unrealistic, and it’s not (the lottery is not a life). Do you want to be an actor? A professional athlete? A journalist? For some, this is seen as impossible, even if it’s something they’ll always want to do. But listen––IT’S NOT UNREALISTIC. Not if it’s something you would love doing every single day. Which brings me to my next point.

Are You Passionate?

This is probably the most important part. Whatever you dream of doing should be something you love doing. Think about it this way: 

If you could do something every single day, what would it be? 

If this is something you really want, then you’ll enjoy the journey. You shouldn’t want to be an actor because it makes a lot of money or for the fame––you should do it because you love the actual act acting (see what I did there). But seriously, if you’re just doing something for the side effects, then why are you doing it? 

It has to be something you’d do for free (think about hobbies you do in your spare time). 

Like that person I was talking about––how could they know that doing this education that they aren’t enjoying is going to make them happy later? We are constantly changing as people. So how could we possibly know that something will make us happy in the future when we’re different? Especially if it’s something we’ve never tried before (pro tip: try everything).

Forget the Side Effects

By side effects, I mean things that might come with your dream, but aren’t actually your dream. Don’t do something for the fame or money, because chances are you’re going to be miserable. If something you love just happens to include the chance of obtaining wealth and fame, then all power to you! Just don’t let it drive you. Think about your passion. 

No Excuses, Only Results

I think this is something I heard from a soccer coach many years ago. If you’re going to keep coming up with excuses, you’re only holding yourself back. And I could sit here all day telling you why your excuses are invalid (sorry that sounded mean), but if you’re not willing to set aside why you can’t do something then what’s the point?

I know money is a tough one, and if you ask me, I honestly think it’s stupid that you have to have money to go learn something you’re passionate about, and that only rich people can do it. I well understand it, but I do think there’s a way to achieve whatever it is without it. 

Don’t be afraid to take risks!

It’s Not Luck, It’s a Decision

This is one of my favorite quotes, alongside “it’s not a necessity, it’s an opportunity” (you can quote me on that one!). I think about this everyday, and I remind people you complain about certain things (such as college) that they don’t actually have to be there. Yes, I know I know; you need a degree to do many things, but you’re not being held against your will to attend. Plus, it should be seen as an opportunity if it’s getting you towards what you want to do (your passion!).

I truly believe (TRULY) that if you want something enough you’ll get it. If you’re going to work on a career in the music industry, then you have to be persistent and work for it (and enjoy working for it). One of the cheesiest quotes people say is “it’s about the journey, not the destination.” Well, news flash, the journey never really ends. If you’re not enjoying it now, then I don’t know what to tell you. 

Bottom line is, don’t wait for a phone call from someone who’s going to tell you you’re a movie star, you have to do it yourself (and if you want to, you will).

There Will Be Rough Times

Despite trying to be inspirational, I must remind you that times will get rough. You’ll be discouraged, people will tell you you can’t, and you’ll probably face rejection. The point is, you have to hold your head up. I’m sure a million people have told you those exact words… but you have to.

You can’t expect everything to run smoothly but that’s okay (and if it does, please tell me how!). Most people who are living their dreams now have faced rejection countless times, but the ones that make it are the ones that bounce back. So take it as a sign.

If you’re told no then you’re on the right track.

It’s NEVER Too Late

This is an excuse that deserves some invalidness. It is never….NEVER too late to chase your dreams. I cannot tell you how many times people say they’re too old or it’s too late. So you’re just going to live the rest of your life thinking what if and oh well?

The most ridiculous cases of this I find is when people in their 20s say it’s too late to do whatever they want to do. Come on. JK Rowling didn’t get published until she was 32, and she was rejected a number of times (see, rejection is good news). 

If you’ve gone to university and earned a degree already, it is okay to change your mind and do something else. There is no reason why you shouldn’t do something that makes you happy. And it’s even more ridiculous to be the one that tells yourself you can’t do something that makes you happy. 

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Maira Gall