I pretty much live my dream – I really do. Despite how much I bitch and complain, I get to live in the most fashionable neighborhood of the most fashionable city on earth and make my living in the music industry. What more could a long-haired kid obsessed with Black Sabbath want? That being said – there is a reason I sometimes feel like I have to complain, and it’s not just because I’m a depressed maniac – there is a lot more to living your dream than just the thin veneer of late nights at extravagant parties and working from home.If you’re building towards living a dream you have to be able to accept certain grim realities that are a key part of what makes this such a challenge.
1. It’s not always fun
One thing that really gets my goat is people who say “Wow – you must be living the perfect life!” And I mean yeah… to some degree I see where they are coming from – from the outside looking in a lot of peoples lives seem ideal. Part of our daily struggle is keeping up a brave face. To live your dream you have to face a lot of day to day challenges that make this life worth living. The fact that it isn’t fun is part of the point of life – if things came east what would be the point?
Life is hard – and it’s not meant to be fun all the time. The idea that it should be is both a crazy pipe dream and a weird millennial lie. While we definitely are right in working for a better tomorrow (and I never will stop doing just that) I don’t necessarily believe that we are doomed to misery – I also think we need to accept that living your dream can involve some meaningless tasks. For every company you run, there will always be tons of background work that needs to be handled.
2. You Have To Keep Pushing
There is a saying “When one door closes another opens” and in many ways this has become one of those weird rallying cries of my life. Eventually you learn it’s hard to screw up so hard that you end up having no recourse. If you have what it takes to live your dream, then you have to have what it takes to push forth no matter the consequences, and be bold in your trials and tribulations.
Part of what makes people want to hire you and work with you, especially in what one might think of as ‘dream jobs’ is when you prove your dedication. If you can show that time and time again you kept on doing what you loved in order to help build towards the future you want then people will respect you. When they see your dedication they will immediately become more open to working with you. In this way – the challenge of living your dream is part of what makes living your dream possible. It shows you have what it takes and keeps you driving forward.
3. There will always be struggles
The basic truth is that in this life there will always be ups and downs – that’s just how it goes. Having that hunger is a part of what makes us successful in the first place. But you need to remember that there will always be setbacks. Regular readers know that I dropped out of college to pursue this, and while I’m pretty happy with the decision, let me assure you, nothing is more depressing than receiving a harsh financial blow and then getting an email with the subject line “It’s never too late to go back to college!”
But this isn’t about my distinctly sad life. It’s about something greater – that is to say, the knowledge that we live in a world where we are going to face challenges in the day-to-day. Living your dream usually implies quite a bit of risk, and most us embrace that. But of course, because there is risk, sometimes important or cool opportunities will fall through and we are left wondering if we really made the right choice. And that’s fine!
4. Sometimes You Have To Settle
Part of the struggle is knowing when you have to compromise. Knowing when to settle and be willing to accept that as part of living your dream is hard, but it’s part of what it takes if you really want to go forward. No one wants to have to give up on any one aspect of their goals – but unfortunately not everything comes free or easy in this world. Maybe you can afford to launch your startup but you can’t hire all your friends right away? That’s fine – You still have a start-up!
Here’s the thing – settling becomes a lot easier to come to terms with when you count your blessings and realize exactly what you have done thus far. It gives you a chance to go “Wow – I actually have come pretty far!” And from that you are a lot more able to realize that a sacrifice or two here and there isn’t really that big a deal? Why? Because you’re building towards something greater – and if the greater reality you’re building towards remains more or less complete albeit with a few compromises then you’re still doing a great job!
5. It Can Take Over Your Life Without You Realizing It
This is one that I certainly have struggled with and one that I’ve had to come to terms with in recent weeks. Sometimes – you have to distance yourself a little bit from your dream. People like me have a tendency to get obsessive, at this point I would say 12-13 of my 16 or so waking hours are spent working on music related things. I think it’s pretty obvious to see that this doesn’t allow for a lot of ‘free time’ where I can do things that aren’t music. You have to have hobbies outside of your dream in order to make it feasible. For me these things have been reading, running and cooking, they give me a much needed break from the day-to-day insanity.
You need to be careful when you start going all out for your dream – it’s a scary thing to do and messing up could be risky if not for your life then for your soul. Remaining interested in things outside of your passion is crucial if you want to continue to be able to grow as an individual.
6. You Start To Wonder If This Is What You Wanted The Whole Time
There is no shortage of people who decided to give up and turn their back on he dream because they realized it wasn’t really what they wanted. I’ve always wondered if I was doomed to be one of those people. After all – I’m fighting with all my strength for a very hard to achieve goal that seems doomed to leave me wanting more. Am I really able to keep driving this forward?
Then you remember – there is a reason you wanted this. You wanted this because it provided a way out from a world you don’t think you want to be a part of. While yes, there are comfortable lives to be had – you have to think, how do you want to be remembered? In my mind at least, it is far better to be dashed upon the rocks than to sit on the shore staring at the surf. If you poured a lot of time and energy into this, then it suggests that there was something you wanted from it, something worth building towards, and thus something you would have really wanted. If you change your opinion that’s okay, but remember, in the end it pays off.
7. Once You Reach The Top Of The Mountain – Keep Climbing
There is no upper limit to what you are capable of – I sincerely believe that. While it’s nice to rest on your laurels, that’s exactly what breeds complacence and makes it harder to drive forth for a better tomorrow. Climbing the mountain is what we all have to do if we want to live our dream – and it’s never going to be easy. As you get higher there is rarefied air and more dangers at every turn, but that just makes being at the top even better.
But never be satisfied – I sincerely hope that the curse of those who truly live their dreams has. No matter what, it is never enough. There is always a new level – a new goal, a new achievement. This life is not meant for those who want to be happy with little. No matter what – the minute you decide you are satisfied is the minute your dreams start to slow down. Look for new dreams and realize that though this is hard – it is always worth it.
Featured photo credit: Nicolas Raymond via flickr.com