There’s little point in being alive if you don’t have something worth dreaming about.
To be clear, a dream is something you aspire to, some ambition that drives you to step outside of your comfort zone, stay curious, and keep learning.
What’s your dream?
Wait – that’s not the best question. Let me try again.
Why is that dream important to you? (and) Whose dream is it?
The “what” part usually comes first – you hone in on something that you want to accomplish or reach or attain, but more often than not, the “why” and the “who” get lost. You’re too busy already tackling the “what” to focus on anything else.
Whether you’re pursuing a traditional career, an entrepreneurship-fueled business, or being a stay-home parent and volunteering your time when you can, it doesn’t matter – we all have dreams.
No matter your dream, there are metrics – set by others or by yourself – that you feel you must reach in order for your dream to be accomplished or realized.
Are you still with me? OK. Let’s keep going.
No matter WHAT your dream is, you’ll accomplish it faster if you ask yourself two things:
Why is this dream important to me? (and) Whose dream is this?
Why is this dream important to me?
Dreams are not one-size-fits-all.
In the United States, we have this underlying cultural concept of “The American Dream.” In a larger sense, it’s meant to symbolize equal opportunity for everyone (which we are very far from achieving) and being better off (socially, financially … etc.) than your parents were at your age.
In a day-to-day sense, it has come to mean something very different: work hard, get married, buy a house, have 2 kids, buy a new car every few years, pay for your kids to go to college, then retire to a warm/tropical climate to relax on the beach – that’s the rough outline.
The American Dream is absolutely not one-size-fits-all.
When I was younger, completely unaware, this American Dream became my template for a happy life. I thought it was everyone’s default plan, but as I got older and tried to execute the plan for the American Dream, I was the furthest thing from happy. Instead, I was depressed, overworked, directionless.
“The right investment for somebody could be the wrong investment for everybody else.” – Colin Wright
It has taken me over a decade of adulthood to cast off the concept of grasping for the American Dream. Even if I could afford it, I wouldn’t want it. It’s not right for me, which means it may not be right for you.
The concept of the American Dream was important to me when I was younger because I thought it was the only option.
Now, my dream is to have freedom. Why? Because freedom is the greatest luxury.
Freedom from debt. Freedom from location. Freedom from the office.
With my business, I can work from anywhere. Within the next 2 years, I’ll be 100% debt-free and building a stronger financial future than I’ve ever had, which will continue to afford me the freedom I dream of.
Even as entrepreneurs, we’re not free from the concept of a template. Your newsletter list, your social media followers, your brag-worthy sales numbers.
Decide WHY your chosen metrics are important to you – not because someone else decides they are.
Whose dream is this?
The American Dream is a vague concept that no one specifically assigns to you, but it is culturally prevalent.
Dreams can come from other places too: movies, TV shows, parents, siblings, friends, teachers … there’s no shortage of people who may “gift” you their dreams.
The Why of your dream is often closely connected to Whose dream is it.
The dream of owning a home and having kids was never my dream, which is why I never had a Why for it. It’s just what you do.
Well, who gives a shit about that!
While I appreciate cultural and familial responsibility, in the end, it’s your life. You have to live with the voice in your head. You have to live with the decisions you make each day. You have to live with WHATEVER happens at the end of your life when you take your last breath.
Not your teachers. Not your parents. Not your family. You. Only you.
“Our freedom corresponds directly with our ability to walk away from anything.” – Joshua Fields Millburn
This is not a license to be an asshole. It’s the freedom to choose your dreams for yourself, no matter how big or small. What is small to you may be a planet-sized dream to someone else.
What is YOUR priority? What is your #1 priority that helps you make all of your decisions in your life?
For me, right now, it’s keeping my expenses low. I’m focusing on becoming financially free, so the cost of something ultimately helps me decide if it’s the right focus for me right now.
In a few years, my #1 priority will change, and that’s OK – it should. As life changes, as interests change, our priority should change.
Everything you do – spending time on social media, going grocery shopping, reading a book, buying a house, getting a loan for a new car – is either supporting your #1 priority and your dream, or it’s not.
Spending lots of time on social media gives me some level of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), and makes me desire things I absolutely don’t need, so I spend less time on social media than I used to, and I’ve unfollowed any account that directly sells things (like specific brands … etc.) that I don’t already buy.
Doing what everyone else is doing is not cool – it is mindless autopilot. You’re a drone being controlled.
Question everything. Question everyone you follow, every newsletter you read, every TV show you choose to watch.
What you consume influences how you make decisions, often leading you to forget what your #1 priority and your dream are.
What is your dream? Why is this dream important to you? Whose dream is it?
Ask yourself. Ponder it. Write it down. Come back to it as often as you need to.
Choose your #1 priority. Print it out. Put it in your wallet, on your wall, on your fridge.
Remind yourself what you chose to be important. Find your own dream. Believe in it. Stand for it.
Others will think you’re weird. Embrace it. The more you stand up for the life you want, the sooner you can achieve it.
[This post was inspired by episode #176 of The Minimalists podcast]