When I was young, I told everyone for years that I wanted to be an astronaut. I said I would study astronomy and work at NASA and fly in rockets and cool stuff like that. I said all this and fully believed it, even though I was marginal at math and science bored me to tears. No one ever told me that I couldn’t do it, but surely my teachers and parents must have been thinking that it was a rather ridiculous quest for my future. Ah, to be young again and to wallow in such self-belief! Reflecting on this made me think about something. At what point did we grow up and start talking ourselves right out of our dreams?
I think most folks would say that “real life” took over. Our “dreams” were replaced by bills or early parenthood or all the “adulting” we were expected to do the day after we turn 18. Others might attribute it to lack of money for lessons, or a parent who told them their dream was unachievable or asinine. And still others would blame a lack of belief in themselves, or all out fear of failure. Whatever the reason, too many of us leave our inner most desires behind only to be left with the yearning of “what if.”
Fast forward ten, twenty, thirty or more years and too many of us are working unsatisfying jobs or have no job at all. Some of us have children whom we tell on a daily basis to “follow their dreams” while inside we feel like frauds. We follow the people on social media who are doing what we wish we were doing, and try to live vicariously through them. And, everyday, we make sure we keep our list full of excuses as to why it is too late for us to ever go back to that carefree kid who believed they could do anything.
Sad but true for most of us, huh?
Why? Why is it too late to return to the things that you love? My bet is that you have an overblown definition of what success is and you talked yourself right out of your dreams. For example, let’s say your dream was to be a pro golfer, but you told yourself back then that the only way to be a success is to be on the PGA tour. Didn’t even make your college team, so you gave up golf even though swinging the golf club made you feel like you were Tiger Woods no matter where the ball landed. Or, you loved to build things out of wood, but you decided that unless you were hosting a show on HGTV then you’d never be able to support your family by swinging a hammer. So, even though you are insanely talented at woodworking, you haven’t seen the inside of a woodshop in 15 years. Or, you moved to Nashville to pursue a music career and even though you accomplished a lot more than most, you had to put down the mic and get a “real job.” (Hmmm, that last one sounds familiar!)
Any way you look at it – you talked yourself out of dreams.
Well, I say, redefine success. So you’re not a pro golfer, a master carpenter, or a superstar singer? Why does that mean you can’t follow your passion? Go pick up your clubs and play a round of golf, for goodness sake. Reclaim that champion feeling when you make par. Go take a woodworking class and feel the wood and the hammer in your hands again. Marvel at your masterpiece that you’ve created Start a band and practice once a week and slide in a gig or two every couple months. Only you can tell yourself that it is ok to let your former dreams morph into something that fits into your current reality.
Do yourself a favor. Close your eyes and go back to the ten-year old version of yourself and remember what it was made the hair stand up on your neck. And then figure how to do that now at whatever stage of life you are in. I’m not telling you to quit your job. I’m telling you to go take a lesson, or plan a trip, or join a club. I’m telling you to go buy a used camera, or take a sushi making class or take an astronomy class (unless your me). I promise that reclaiming a long, lost dream will help make your day to day life just a little more bearable.