I seem to be seeing a lot of posts just recently on various platforms, essentially warning young people against the danger of thinking they can actually follow their dreams. The message is essentially “get over your dreams, you need money to live so you need to work hard in a job you probably will never love, so get over it / get over yourself”.
I absolutely believe these posts are well intentioned, in the same way that I also believe they are profoundly wrong. Like all untruths, they are built around a fragment of truth, which is that some people have – or think they have – dreams which they will never get around to taking concrete action over, let alone put in the hard yards for. Some people undoubtedly have dreams that are unrealistic. Let’s face it, not every young boy is going to play football for England, and there aren’t enough (tone-deaf) ears to go around for every young person who thinks they should be a pop idol. But then, for all but a few, these are day dreams rather than the genuine article (a day dream has to deliver in the course of a 10-episode season; real dreams are for life).
None of the naysaying alters the fact that each of us has things that really matter to us, animate and motivate us, and that it is a recipe for real success in life to identify these and build a life that aligns with them. And I can say that with confidence, based on all the adults I work with, at all levels within all kinds of organisations who have either done this or failed to do it. The latter are never successful in a way that anyone would want to emulate; most of them are scrabbling to find some purchase and make a change before it is too late. And for the avoidance of doubt, you can be fabulously successful in what is seen by others as a menial or low-grade job, if it gives you the opportunity to do what you really love; to make a financial success of that, you just need to turn it into a business of your own, instead of a pay-cheque from the man.
So don’t drink from bitter wells, unless you want to find yourself wondering how to get out of the hole further down the line.