Life is short and cruel if you don’t follow your dreams. It is easy to be stuck in the cubicle and work a job you hate for 40 years, to await retirement (that might never come), in the hope that “happiness” will happen in the future.
My suggestion: don’t give up on your crazy dreams you had when you were younger and in college. Stay hungry, stay foolish, and don’t give up on yourself.
I think when we’re younger, we’re a lot more idealistic in life. We have these grand plans for changing the world, empowering others, and helping improve society. However as we get older, we become “jaded.” We realize we need to pay the bills, support our families, and do other boring stuff. We feel trapped with horrible jobs, commutes, and office politics.
Don’t lose your enthusiasm. Stay young, pliant, and motivated.
Know that today is the best time for you to pursue your dream. There is no other time in human history where we have modern technology (smartphones, the internet, 4g, laptops, digital cameras/videos, social media, YouTube, e-books) that can help you make change in the world or produce art. Most of us don’t go to sleep hungry (our problem is obesity), most of us have clothes to keep us warm (our problem is having too many clothes in our closet), and most of us don’t die of thirst either (our problem is having too much high-fructose corn syrup in our drinks). Despite what the media tells you, the world is safer than before. You are a lot less likely to get killed by an armed robbery in the streets or from war than you did in the past.
So we have all of our basic necessities. We have shelter, food, warm clothes, and water. We have our coffee and wifi. What else is holding us back?
I think it is fear.
We fear pursuing our dreams, because we are afraid that we might fail. We are afraid of pursuing our dreams, because we are afraid that others might think we are stupid or childish. We are afraid of pursuing our dreams, because we are afraid of success (if your dream came true, what would you tell everyone else, and what would you do with your 9-5 job?)
Many of us also lack the confidence in ourselves. We don’t think we are talented, smart, or young enough to pursue whatever we want to do. We get too caught up in the complexity of taking action, so we stay glued to the couches, watching YouTube, TV, Netflix, playing video games, or any other form of passive leisure.
My suggestion: make your life that is active and one of action.
If your dream is to be a full-time photographer, start off by taking action. Put up a craigslist posting offering to shoot a wedding for free. And use that to build up your skills.
If you want to be a portrait photographer, contact a friend to do headshots.
If you want to start your own YouTube channel, just make a webcam video with your laptop, or record something on your smartphone and upload it.
If you have an idea for an app, start by learning free classes on CodeAcademy or any of the other free sites out there.
If you want to start blogging, signup on wordpress.com and share any random thoughts you have on your mind.
If you have a photography project idea, don’t just share your idea with others— start by going out and actually shooting it, and then asking for others’ opinions later.
Don’t share your ideas
I read something that by sharing your ideas, you are less likely to take action.
Because if you share a grand idea you have with others, you have psychologically told yourself that you’ve done the idea. And therefore you’re less likely to take action.
I know a lot of people who have great ideas— but they never execute.
My suggestion: take action by executing on your ideas. Be a person of action, not of ideas or thought.
And also try to go an entire month not sharing any of your ideas with others (not because you’re hoarding your ideas, but in order to focus on action).
I’m totally guilty of this too — I have a lot of grand ideas, but I don’t always execute. For a while I told my friends that I wanted to do more YouTube videos. But the more I told my friends that, the less likely I was to make the videos. So one day I just decided to shut my mouth, to sit down and lock myself up in my room, and start recording videos on my webcam.
I also find the benefit of not sharing your ideas is that you feel less guilty for not taking action upon your ideas. I feel for every 100 ideas I have, only 1 of those ideas are good or worthwhile taking action upon. Therefore when I tell a lot of my friends my 99 bad ideas, I feel guilty for not following-through on these bad ideas. And they feel disappointed in me too. So by keeping your bad ideas to yourself, you give yourself the permission to kill your bad ideas to continue to think of good ideas.
So friend, don’t give up on your dreams. Take the first step forward today towards accomplishing your dream. And know, “The journey is the reward.”
My dream was to do photography/blogging full-time; and I’ve achieved it. But that doesn’t mean that I stop, and retire on some beach. Rather, I count my blessings, and spend every minute of my day to think of new ideas, to read, research, meditate, and write and produce.
The reward for following our dream isn’t fame, wealth, or money. The reward for following our dream is having the blessing of doing that work.
So for me, the reward for everything I’ve done on this blog, YouTube, and social media isn’t gaining more followers, earning more money, or influence. The reward is the work in itself— the chance for me to be creative, to share ideas, and to help educate myself.
Don’t give up on yourself— if you don’t believe in yourself, who else will believe in you?
Be unreasonable, and keep following your dreams. I believe in you.