Chasing Someone Else’s Dreams

The indispensible first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want. – Ben Stein


question-mark1While this sounds like a simple thing, sometimes it can be much harder than we think. In order to figure out what we want, we have to get past everything the world is trying to tell us we need. Every day we’re bombarded with advertisements telling us we need this product or that product in order to be happy (or cool, or popular, or complete, or whatever). We hear “experts” telling us what we should do in order to be a “success.”

There’s just one problem with that: Your idea of what success is may not be the same as mine.

I’m almost positive the advertising companies’ ideas of what constitutes success is vastly different than what the common man or woman on the street thinks of when they hear the word.

But then again, maybe the experts are right. After all, they’re experts, right? Or maybe they’re not.

What do you want? Have you ever tried to get away from all of the voices telling you what you “need” and taken the time to get quiet, take a few deep breaths, and figure out what you really want? If you’ve never given it much thought, it’s not really something you can figure out in just a few minutes. Take some time—make some time if you have to—go somewhere that you can think without any distractions, and think about what you want.

Okay, so now we’ve figured out what we want. Next question:

Is what we want worth what we have to do in order to get it?

For instance, is having that new car worth getting a second job and sacrificing time with our family? Is getting that promotion really worth compromising our principals? Is getting that degree really worth cheating on the exams? If we compromise ourselves to get something, wouldn’t that very thing serve as a constant reminder of what we had to do to get it? How can that lead to happiness?

If you don’t have to compromise yourself or the important things or people in your life to get what you want, that’s great. But if you do, are those things really worth it?

And, most importantly, if you decide the things you want are worth what you have to do to get them, take a moment to really think about them. Picture yourself with them. In your deepest thoughts, in your “heart of hearts,” do you believe those things will truly make you happy?

I guess the big question is, are we more concerned with getting the things we want, or with being happy? Too many times we find out that they’re not one and the same.

Pushing ourselves to do better, to achieve greater things, to reach higher heights, that’s what life is about. Chasing dreams is a wonderful thing, but what if you catch your dream and only to realize it’s not really what you wanted after all? Before we take any steps toward making our dreams a reality, we have to make sure they’re our dreams and not someone else’s.

So, if you’ve never done it, do this: Take some time to get quiet, and figure out what you really want. It may take days, or weeks, or even longer, but it’s better to take the time now, than to look back later and realize you were running in the wrong direction all along.

You can make your dreams come true. Just make sure they’re your dreams and not someone else’s.

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