Everywhere you turn these days someone is urging you start following your dreams. There are glowing testimonials, flamboyant stories, glitzy pictures. It just looks so easy: sipping martinis on the beach, traveling the world, living the life.
You start thinking that you too should be getting on that path.
Before you take the plunge, here are 8 reasons why you shouldn’t be following your dreams.
1- YOU THINK FOLLOWING YOUR DREAMS IS THE THING TO DO
You’re not really following your dreams, you’re following a trend. Ten years ago the dream could have been to quit law to become a yoga teacher, five years ago to become a digital nomad living in Chiang Mai, now to start a side-hustle. Yes, dreams too follow trends!
Since you haven’t really done your soul-searching ‘the dream’ is not really your dream. And the problem when it comes to dreams is that if they are not customized, they tend to not fit you so well. Do you really like yoga? Do you really want to live in Thailand? See?!
In doubt, take a moment to reconnect with yourself and find what really makes you come alive before taking action. This way you will be pursuing dreams that really suit you.
2- YOU SCARE EASILY
Following your dreams can be exhilarating – in a roller-coaster kind of way. One minute you’re on top of the world celebrating your latest victory, the next you’re frantically wondering if it wasn’t all a huge mistake. And when your mind is not playing tricks on you, then the journey itself is challenging. There are detours, delays, false starts, mad dashes. “Follow your dreams” is an advice not meant for the faint of hearts!
3- YOU ARE LAZY
There’s this idea that if you hate your 9-5 you should quit your job and become your own boss so you can set your own hours. I beg to differ. I am all for entrepreneurship, for freedom and for setting your own rules but let’s be real a minute, it takes a special kind of mindset to walk that path. And until you find your bearings, you’ll probably be working a lot more hours than you’ve ever worked in your entire life.
Now, your dream may not be to be an entrepreneur. Still you should bear in mind that whether you want to become a baker or a musician, any big lifestyle change will require lots of groundwork. This is something you must account for.
4- YOU ARE A KNOW-IT-ALL
Following your dreams has a way to keep you humble. Following your dreams forces you out of your comfort zone. Most of the time you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. You’re testing, experimenting, tweaking and learning as you go.
When I arrived in Germany to follow the dream of starting a new life I didn’t speak a word of German. This meant everything, I mean e-ve-ry-thing, immediately became a thousand times more complicated. Think buying bread, buying laundry detergent, sending a letter. Every time I stepped outside it was an adventure.
And let’s not even open the how-many-times-I’ve-made-a-fool-of-myself box…
When you’re following your dreams, being challenged, stumbling, making a fool of yourself are all givens. You need to accept that there’s a lot that you don’t know, you need to be comfortable with being ridiculous and you need to be able to laugh at yourself.When you're following your dreams being challenged, stumbling, making a fool of yourself is part of the journey. Click To Tweet
5- YOU HAVE NO SELF-CONFIDENCE
By the same token, when you’re following your dreams you often can no longer rely on external ego-boosters such as a corner office or a fancy title. When you switch from finance to starting a fashion line no one cares one bit about the size of the accounts you were previously managing, when you change country nobody cares about your masterful command of your mother tongue all they know is how you sound in their language.
Many of your past skills and achievements don’t translate and become meaningless when you begin following your dreams, especially if those dreams involve radical lifestyle changes. Quite frankly, you’ll be starting again from scratch.
If all your confidence is tied to your formal career or some irrelevant (for your new life) credentials, you’re up for a rather difficult journey.
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6- YOU LIKE CERTAINTY AND PREDICTABILITY
If you freak out when your train is 30 seconds late or when the weather forecast is a degree off then you’re probably not made for this path. Following your dreams frequently means that you know where you want to arrive but the path to get there is blurry.
And even when the path is crystal-clear, life has a way of throwing a wrench or two into your plans. On the way to following your dreams you have as much chance of finding predictability as chances of encountering a big-foot in the middle of your living-room. When you’re following your dreams the only certainty is uncertainty.
7- YOU HAVE NO IMAGINATION
There’s a shortcut to bringing your dreams to life: using your imagination. Imagination is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. Einstein acknowledged this principle when he declared: ‘Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.’. I truly believe (and this has also been my experience) that if you can imagine it, you can achieve it.
Now, if you’re one of these hyper-realists who can only see (and believe in) what is directly in front of them, following your dreams will prove a challenging endeavor. Dreams don’t come with instruction manuals. They are often nothing more than an evanescent vision with no clear path to follow. You will require a vivid imagination to fill in the blanks and lay the road to get you where you want to be.
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8- YOU CARE TOO MUCH ABOUT THE OPINION OF OTHERS
By looking at how you run everything you do by committee, one could swear your life is a Fortune 500 company. From your next career move, to your outfits to your dates, you crowd-source every single one of your decisions. The problem is your ‘board of directors’ will not always be on board with your exciting new visions.
What will you do when your co-workers think you’re crazy for looking for a new company with good ethics? Or when your best friend thinks that you don’t have it that bad your irascible boss?
If you’re more invested in peacekeeping, people-pleasing, and appearance-keeping than in your own well-being you will do well to abort your plans. You must be prepared to raise a few eyebrows, probably even lose some friends, fly solo and reach out to new mentors and advisors, otherwise your dreams may well be doomed.
That’s it! Eight reasons why you should not follow your dreams.
Now if I didn’t manage to discourage you, you probably have what it takes to make the journey. Wondering where to get started? Read this. And if you’d like some help and personal guidance along the way, let’s talk!