There have been times in my life when I have truly felt that I was living the dream but I’ve had even more time when I felt the opposite.
It is because of the time I felt unfulfilled or unsatisfied that I was able to create this list of the 9 Reasons Why Most People Aren’t Living Their Dream.
1. Don’t know what the dream is. When we were young we had no inhibitions about conjuring up and sharing our dreams with others. Over time, if not nurtured, the part of our brain that creates dreams goes unused and eventually dies a slow death.
I think it’s important to spend time contemplating and writing out what the dream looks like for you. Be specific. You’ll never be able to live it if you don’t first know what the dream is. Give yourself permission to dream big and dream often.
Take some time and really think about it…seriously.
2. Don’t know where to start (feel overwhelmed). Fair enough. Creating a big goal for yourself (living the dream being the goal) can seem a little intimidating at first but remember that your dream doesn’t have to be fully realized at one specific moment.
It’s a process. Every step you take will add to the dream and before you know it you’ll wake up and realize that you’re already living it.
Take the idea of world peace for example. If that’s your dream, of course it would be overwhelming to think about trying to make it happen all at once. Instead start small. For this example, instead of trying to achieve world peace in one motion, think about the first step you can take. Maybe you want to focus on eliminating child and domestic abuse in your area. That then becomes your starting point and your dream has just become a little more manageable.
This is obviously an over the top example but whatever your dream is, break it down, map out the steps required to get you there, and then do one thing at a time.
3. Fear of Failure. Fear can be one of the most powerful things that prevents us from living the life we want. When faced with this problem I am always reminded of the often quoted words “it’s better to attempt something great and fail than to attempt nothing and succeed.”
Fear is powerful but it’s nothing compared to regret. Don’t be afraid to try and don’t let regret get the best of you.
4. Dream isn’t ‘typical’, ‘common’ or ‘conventional’. This can be a huge barrier for a lot of people. Often we look outside ourselves for reassurance or approval from our peers. Although it’s nice to have sometimes it is totally unnecessary.
In the words of Rilke, “do not expend too much courage or time to clarifying your position to others.”
You don’t need to defend or justify your dreams to anyone other than yourself. In other words, follow your own heart and trust in yourself.
5. Procrastination. If you think that later will be better, trust me, it’s not. The worst thing you can do is defer your dreams for another day. Next week will become next month, next month will become next year and next year will eventually become not-at-all.
For more on this check out what Scott Dinsmore has to say about the word ‘later’.
6. Not enough time. This is a weird one for me. I find it weird because there are hundreds of people who have lived their dreams and accomplished great things and somehow they found time to do it.
As Rolf Potts says in his book Vagabonding, “we are all born equally rich in time.” He’s right. There are exactly 24 hours in each day for everyone in the world, no exceptions.
The difference between those who reach their dream and those who don’t is how they use the time they do have. I would begin by simplifying your life and spending your time on things that matter the most to you, everything else will only serve to distract you.
7. Listening to dream killers. There will always be people who tell you why you can’t do something. Don’t listen to them. Instead do this.
8. Feel too old/young. If you’re 85 and dream of becoming the youngest person to ever row across the Atlantic, then yeah, you’re too old.
Apart from obvious health or physical limitations, age is really only a matter of perception.
Take Mark Zuckerburg for example (co-founder and CEO of Facebook). A lot of people would say that 26 is far too young to be the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. I’m sure Mark would disagree and so far he’s been doing an awesome job of following his heart and doing what he loves.
On the flip side, people often feel that they are too old for dreams. That the chance has passed them by. Case in point…Susan Boyle. When she stepped onstage for Britian’s Got Talent at the age of 47 she was led only by her heart and her desire to fulfill a long-time dream of becoming a professional singer, which she eventually did.
So if you feel that you’re too old or too young to live your dream, I say give it an honest shot and prove yourself (and everyone else) wrong.
9. Not enough money. Fortunately for you, money is not the primary requirement for living your dream. Of course you do need some money but you don’t have to be rich.
If your dream is to spend your time living in a quiet beach house, writing your memoirs, eating locally grown organic food, and walking next to the ocean at sunset, you can get there.
It may mean moving somewhere in the world where you can stretch a dollar or it may mean re-evaluating how you think about money and spending. You may have to get yourself out of debt first and re-focus your financial obligations. Adam Baker at Man Vs. Debt might be able to help you with that.
The point is that other people are doing it and it is possible.
Like I said at the beginning, I don’t claim to have all the answers. In the coming months as I tackle all the obstacles that are preventing me from living my dream I will be addressing each of the above points in greater detail.
My goal as I confront and smash through these barriers it to provide you with simple strategies so that you can do the same.
If you have any thoughts on how we can get there together I’d love to hear from you. If not, stay tuned and keep dreaming!
Did I leave anything off the list? If so, feel free to let me know in the comments section.