What are your dreams? How about your passions? Where do you want to be ten years from now? What do you want to do with your life? You would be surprised at the number of people who can’t answer that question. Some of you might be surprised that I can’t answer it myself. Not because I don’t know what I’m interested in, not because I don’t have things that I think know I’m good at – but because I don’t know how I’m going to use my inherit abilities and interests to become successful, make money, and do something I love. I’m willing to bet a lot of you all reading this are in a very similar place. I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who recently graduated from college and is taking the initial steps into the career-world; it went something like this:
Me: ‘What do you want to do now that you’re done with school?’
Friend: ‘I’m not sure.’
Me: ‘Fair enough, well what do you want to do in life? What are you passionate about?’
Friend: ‘I don’t know. I want to make a difference, start my own business, not work for ‘the man’, inspire other people, do something good for society, leave an impact, build community, and love what I do.’
Me: ‘Sounds great, but those are pretty ‘broad’ ideas, how are you going to start a company with no money? Do you really expect to not do SOME work you aren’t going to love? How will your passions become a reality?’
Friend: ‘I don’t know man, I just know I have a lot to offer and want to make a difference.’
This conversation illustrates what a lot of us are going through as young twenty-somethings entering into the ‘real’ world. The huge success of young entrepreneurs in recent years (Mark Zuckerberg, Chad Hurley, Matt Mullenweg, to name a few) has gotten into our heads and has led us to believe that the sky is the limit to what we can accomplish. We’re all in search of discovering that next big thing. And, more importantly, and perhaps tragically, it’s put the idea into our head that anything less than doing exactly what we want is just mediocre. Each one of us wants to change the world, we want to break away from the ordinary, quit our mundane 9-5’s and embark down the path of a startup entrepreneur.
Passions drive and motivate us to be all that we can be, but they blind us to the realism that everything isn’t going to happen in a day. One thing our generation lacks is patience, we are a generation of ‘instant results’ – Fast food, the internet, digital media downloading, these are all products of our need for instant gratification. We’ve become ‘spoiled’ in a sense that many of us have lost sight of good old fashioned hard work, determination, and above all, patience.
So what’s the point? I titled this post ‘Re-Prioritize Your Dreams’ because I don’t think anyone should ever give up on their dreams and passions. Doing what you love and having an integration of work and life is supremely important to a person’s well-being. Having dreams drives you, it motivates you, and it defines who you are.
My point, and hopefully the take-away for all of you here, is that it’s OK to re-prioritize your goals and aspirations. Maybe you can’t quit your job and start your own business today, but you can follow another passion and work on writing your first novel (like me) while you continue to work at your current employer, gain experience, and save money. Maybe you can’t change the world tomorrow, but you can start volunteering, reaching out to local non-profits and startups, forming connections, friendships, and partnerships. There are things you can do today, right now, that will set you up for the success you dream about in the future.
Never lose sight of your dreams, but take some time to sit back and look at the bigger picture – yes, life is short, but it’s not so short that you don’t have time to build your way toward your BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). Be realistic about the opportunities you have in front of you, and capitalize on them. Odds are, if you are proactive and you have a little patience, you’ll get to where you want to be sooner than you think. Try new things and reach out to new people in fields you’re interested in (and even ones you might not be). You’ll form irreplaceable bonds and friendships, and increase your professional network.
Think back to the conversation I talked about above – in reality, that dialouge wasn’t between a friend and I, it’s a conversation I’ve had with myself time and time again. But having a little patience and putting in the hard work will get you from wanting to ‘change the world’ to figuring out how to do it.