“Your dream is the path between the person you are, and the person you hope to become.”
Let me tell you about a man who had a dream. His name was Tom. He was an insurance salesman. His dream was to write a novel. He often told himself, “Someday I’ll do it.”
But life just went on and on, day after day, year after year… and he did not do any writing or get any closer to following his dream. That is the same way the majority of people in the world go through life. After years of routine monotony, time runs out, their short lives are over and their dreams turn to dust. It’ sad but true.
One day something inside Tom “clicked” and he decided to make it his goal to just start doing something, anything. Just doing a little work on his goals, even for one minute, was better than doing absolutely nothing at all.
He also decided he wouldn’t worry about what other people might think or say. It was his life and his dream, not theirs.
Lastly, he would not worry about the end result. He’d just get busy on his project and try to enjoy the day-to-day process of doing it.
That is a noble goal. One we should all keep in mind. We can set our goal to enjoy the process, enjoy the “doing” of the thing, and enjoy each day.
By setting goals, step by step, we can live our dreams. But if we never turn it into a goal, and never get started doing it, then it remains only a dream that we may live out “someday.”
Success is a Journey
Tom came to realize that success is a journey, not a destination. It is a process—something you do every day. It is not a score you achieve one time or an amount of money you have in the bank one fateful day. Success is living your dream, as much of it as you can, each and every day of your life.
Tom wanted to be a writer. And what do writers do? Writers write… one page at a time. So he began to write a little bit every day. It wasn’t a great volume of work, but he really began to enjoy the time each day that he spent doing his writing. He looked forward to doing it every day after work. A paragraph here, a note there, and soon the pages began to pile up on his desk.
He realized he was actually living his dream of writing a book. He was doing it. The book was not yet completed, and he was not yet “published” and not yet an “author.” But he was writing and that was his dream, to BE a writer. His dream was not something that would just happen to him one day after years of the rat race. His dream was about a way of living his life every day. Tom was finally following his bliss.
Yes he still had to go to work at his job every day. However he also spent many happy hours of each day living this new way of life. Eventually he wrote on so many days and piled up so many pages that eventually he had a completed book in his hands. The day of completion was not as rewarding as he had imagined. It was more enjoyable to work on it each day. Now he felt empty.
The doing was more enjoyable than the having done. So he got right to work on a second book, and that daily dedication to living his dream continues to this day. He just keeps on writing, one page at a time.
Follow Your Bliss
“When you follow your bliss… doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else.” ~ Joseph Campbell
That first book, which was written by former insurance salesman Tom Clancy in his spare time after work, was titled “The Hunt For Red October.” No publisher wanted it; they all sent rejection slips. Finally a small publisher of books about ships gave it a try. The rest is history. That book went on to sell many millions of copies and was made into a very successful movie. “Tom the insurance salesman” who wrote in his spare time is now one of the best-selling authors in history.
When Tom Clancy received an honorary doctorate from Villanova University, he gave an electrifying lecture to the students. Here is an excerpt from his talk. Read it through several times and really think about what it means to you in your life.
What Tom Clancy learned, and shared in his speech, is that you are responsible for living your dreams and making a contribution and fulfilling your destiny. No one else can do it for you. There is no excuse, no one else to blame, and no way to shift the responsibility. It is just you and your dream. Are you going to follow your dream or not? That is the question.
I made a copy of this lecture and hung it up where I’ll see it every day. I need to be reminded to follow my own dreams on a day-to-day basis.
Why don’t more people set goals, follow their dreams, and enjoy their own personal vision of success? The reasons vary, but most people simply get stuck in a rut. They slip into a comfort-zone coma, and drone their way through life as a zombie. They blame their parents, their spouse, the economy, bad luck, the government, you-name-it. But they are simply stuck in their comfort zone. They need to start working on living their dream just a little bit each day, even if it is only an hour. They could get up an hour early in the morning and work on their goals and dreams. Or they could spend less time watching television, and find an extra hour a day that way.
Many people are held back by fear of “what others might think.” That’s a perfectly natural feeling, but you will have to overcome it if you ever want to follow your dream. One way to overcome this is to think of your dream as a “hobby.” A woman I know started making jewelry in her spare time, and she told everyone it was her hobby. People were supportive and said it seemed like a wonderful hobby. However if she had confided in them that it was her dream to become a full time artist, and earn a good living from her creations, they may have tried to discourage her. I’ve seen it happen many times.
You can protect yourself from these dream-stealer critics by simply referring to your activity as a hobby.
What is Your Dream?
What is your dream? It has always been my dream to be a writer and also to own a fun, stress-free business. And I thank God that I’ve managed to make a living as a writer and business owner for the majority of my career. I’ve also found that I can delegate a lot of the routine work that needs to be done. That frees me up to spend more time on the fun stuff, and less time managing all the boring business details. I’m happy to pay out a reasonable fee in order to have more freedom and more time to concentrate simply on the enjoyable parts of the process.
There have been so many days when I would just go for a walk by a lake or river, or sit by the fire with my dog Josh, and I’d read and write, or tap away at the laptop computer. Other days I would travel someplace that I’ve always wanted to go, and all the while still earning a living while I’m sightseeing.
That freedom and daily learning and relaxed peace of mind is the way I’ve enjoyed spending many of my days. It’s my dream. Meanwhile, others have very different dreams. A friend of mine loves to be a superstar in business, wheeling and dealing all day, endless phone calls, meetings, business travel, conferences, and tons of coffee. That is his dream and I wish him all the best. Each to his own.
Get Started Today
In the words of Goethe, “Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
Begin it now. Remember, goal achievement and living your dreams is a daily process. What part of the process will you work on today? Whatever it is, I wish you well with it. Enjoy the journey. And I hope to see you out there, living your dream. We’ll recognize one another because we’ll be the ones smiling.