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You Should Never Turn Your Dreams Into Reality If…

You Should Never Turn Your Dreams Into Reality If…

Reality bites, but you can never bite reality. And at times, you will be forced to face the fact that sometimes it is better not to turn your dreams into reality.

When we were young, we were always asked what we would like to be in the future. Our dreams were far-fetched, yet they were tolerated because we were given the benefit of the doubt and because we were just children.

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But in the process of growing up, we’re exposed to the messy reality of the things that are possible and those that can only be true when we are asleep.

One example may be the love of arts we had when we were still young. We were inclined to draw, to sing, and to dance. But such fondness for art may fade, or may be abruptly cut by people surrounding us who are “concerned” with our future. Many will say that an occupation in the arts will not bring food to our plate or lead us to greener pastures. Some of us are cut out for an artistic career, but others are not. It’s important to recognize the difference.

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Your dreams might be selfish.

There are some personal interests that can indeed change the world. Rene Descartes, for example, developed the philosophy of the scientific method. This was the result of his dream of reforming and unifying the sciences. We can also name the well-known Beatles, who auditioned in Decca but were turned down. But now they’re considered as a musical legend.

However, some dreams are far too selfish, rather than beneficial for the common good. At times in pursuing a dream, we forget that there are other people surrounding us who need us. And at times, even these people must be sacrificed for us to pursue a dream. So you want to be a world renowned painter, but you already have a family to feed and the food that must be bought was turned to paint and brush? Maybe it’s about time to reconsider your priorities in life. Just like a painting, it’s not always colorful. You must make alterations.

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Your dream is just a guide.

As we grow older, we develop a deeper thirst and hunger for what we want to become in the near future. Yet, most of the time we are deviated by circumstances that might either make our determination stronger or make us realize that it’s not worth it. The cost of living becomes higher, health risk soars, priorities change and options grow for other ventures. We might not realize it, but at some point we just need to acknowledge that we fell in love with the journey rather than the result. Then surely, your dream was just a guide to something better.

You dream to impress, not to express.

We were rich in innocence when we were young. But now that we are grown-ups, we are measured by our paycheck, our car, our educational background or our status in society. And we can rarely just say that we dream of being a lawyer to defend the poor, not for the money or the title alone. In most cases, why do we want to pursue these sought-after professions? Is it the money? Is it the fame? Or is it really the full realization of our expressed advocacy? Sometimes, wrong choice of underlying motivation can lead us astray.

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We no longer live in a society in which “the dreams that we dare to dream really do come true,” or where “bluebirds fly in the sky, why can’t I?” We are now living in a world where not all dreams are possible, and birds can fly and humans can’t (at least not without help from technology). So don’t expect to fly like a bird, because we have airplanes to do that for us. Wake up!

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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