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Pursuing Dreams is Like an Iceberg. Most People Only See the Tip of it.
When 9-year-old aspiring singer Celine Tam was asked by a judge from America’s Got Talent what her big dream was when she grew up, she instantly replied: “This is my dream.”1
Of course, it’s not just Celine who likes to talk about dreams. Google shows that there’s an uprising trend that people love to talk about dreams:2
When people discuss their dreams, they nearly always focus on the bright side of reaching their goals. It’s as if they consciously overlook the effort needed to achieve great things. Instead, they choose to put all their faith and hope into the expected, positive results.
How Dreams Have Been Over Fantasised
It’s easy to only see the positive sides of dreams — fame, fortune, attention, followers and recognition. While it’s fine to enjoy fantasy thoughts of how life could be in the future, these thoughts will always remain nothing but a fantasy until you start taking action.
You might dream of being in a pop band, having a hit single and album, and touring the world to adoring fans. You’ve seen other artists do it, and you’re sure that you’re as talented as them – or more so. While this may be true, there’s also a lot of time, effort and persistence the vast majority of successful musicians and singers have put in. And not a lot of people see these things.
These artists have dedicated a huge portion of their lives to practicing, performing and learning how to market themselves. They’ve also had to overcome some big obstacles to success, such as family pressure, lack of financial support, songs getting rejected hundreds of times, and no audience at the beginning.
It’s easy to just focus on the bright side of successful people, rather than understanding the incredibly tough journey they survived to get there; unless you read an autobiography of them (which often details their trials and tribulations).
The Little-known Dark Times of Successful People
Consider the story of world-famous singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.
Before releasing his debut album in 2011, Sheeran was homeless for almost three years. This included two nights sleeping rough outside Buckingham Palace in London.3 However, instead of letting his situation crash his dreams, he kept on playing gigs and recording songs. Success was a while coming… but now he’s one of the world’s most successful musicians, including being the first artist to have two songs debut in the U.S. top 10 in the same week.4
And then there is Elon Musk.
Before scaling the heights of success with SolarCity, SpaceX and Tesla, he first had to go through some extraordinary challenges. These included: product failures, going broke, and relentless personal criticism and accusations.5 Musk admits it was difficult, but his immense self-motivation helped him to overcome the challenges, and begin to see the fruits of his efforts.
To realistically have a chance of reaching goals, one must be willing to suffer the hardships along the way, rather than just wanting to enjoy the final destination.
If you’ve set your sights on success, be prepared for disappointments, frustrations and roadblocks. These things are impossible to avoid. And the bigger your dream – the more of the negatives you can expect to encounter.
So what dream to aim for? I’m going to answer you in the final section – the action part.
Stick to one dream, not dreams
Before giving you some definite pointers on choosing your ideal goal, I want you to realize this truth… Our time on this planet is limited. And while it’s impossible to escape time, you can learn to work in harmony with it. You can do this by choosing a dream that perfectly fits your age, personality and talents.
Note that I say dream, not dreams. The reason for this, is that you’ll increase your chances of success if you choose and stick to one ideal goal – rather than flitting aimlessly between unsuitable goals.
Now, to decide on your one dream, be sure that you are willing to suffer for it with these five criteria:
- 90% of the work for this dream will be hard. I am willing to suffer and sacrifice for it.
- I will commit 100% of my time and energy to my dream.
- I will give up things such as luxury goods and leisure time in order to reach my dream.
- My dream will always excite me so much that I will happily overcome any hardships and obstacles.
- I have what it takes to reach my dream.
Please stop for a moment, and read each statement again. Then give yourself time to really process them. You may be surprised as you process these statements… “But spare time is quite important to me”, or “my life seems to be okay right now”, or “I don’t think I can spend that much effort on it.”
These thoughts are perfectly fine, but they indicate that your one dream should be realistic and achievable.
However, if you have these thoughts… “I’m ready to take on the world,” “I’m willing to sacrifice my time, money and energy,” “I’m absolutely committed to achieving success,” then you’re ready to aim for the stars! Choose a BIG dream – and make it a reality!
I don’t want to tell you specifically what dreams to choose, as this could limit your decision. Instead, I recommend you spend a few days analyzing what you do best, what you enjoy the most, and what benefits you can offer to others. Once you have two or three ideas, narrow these down by determining how much effort and resources they require to achieve. Finally, choose your goal – and commit to sticking to it.
Choose your dream wisely, stick to it and get to work on achieving it. You will not regret doing it.
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