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There’s an old proverb that says, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” In other words—everyone has a dream, so what makes yours so special?
Many professionals get so hung up on the concepts of “dreams” and “destiny” that they think a successful career will materialize before them simply because “it’s meant to be.” But if that were so, then (to bring the phrase into the 21st century) beggars would be CEOs of multinational corporations, right?
Although it might seem like an overgeneralization, the answer lies mostly in the fact that many of us simply don’t put forth the effort necessary to make our dreams a reality. But you can! Here’s how to avoid some of the common pitfalls of those who have failed to build a successful career on a dream:
Phase One: Discovering the Dream
The first phase may seem fairly obvious: to follow your dream, you have to first be able to define what that dream is.
Are you following a career path simply because you’re good at it or is it something you genuinely enjoy? Although you might have heard the question a million times, you should be able to thoroughly answer—in the most idealistic manner possible—where you’d like to see yourself in 10 years. Whatever answer you come up with is what career path you should be following NOW, rather than waiting to start working toward your goals.
Never underestimate the value of practical skills or professional training. But turning a dream into reality also requires an additional ingredient: passion. If you have a dream you feel passionate about, you’re already well on your way toward making it a reality.
Don’t be afraid to dream big. Even if writing out your dream makes it seem out of reach, make your plans equally big to get where you need to be.
Phase Two: Breaking Free From Excuses
For many dreamers, the excuses stage is an eternal limbo that keeps their professional lives tethered in an unfulfilled state year after dreadful year.
The excuses stage is so named because it features all of the natural defenses that come with dreaming big. Fear is mostly at the root of these defenses, but they come about in the form of phrases like “I’m too busy,” “I don’t have enough money to accomplish my goals,” “my ideas aren’t that great,” and the list goes on.
Economics professor Larry Smith says personal relationships are the greatest bane to successful careers because they offer a socially acceptable rut for professionals to settle into when they want to give up on their dreams. Fortunately, it’s still possible to break through the excuses stage and move on to the final phase.
Phase Three: Going for It
Most dreamers never make it to this final phase because they get too caught up with making excuses or finding other reasons not to follow their passions.
After defining the dream and leaving behind burdensome excuses, professionals have nothing left but to go for it – by transforming their passions into action. The best part about this phase is there are no real rules for making your dreams a reality, because the best plans approach the process in an entirely unique way. So once you get past the “maybes” and “buts,” going for it becomes a fairly easy endeavor that can transform the lowest beggars into the most successful entrepreneurs.
No matter what opportunities and obstacles life has placed in your path, a fulfilling career is still within reach as long as you have the ability to dream. To adapt another common saying: “Man does not live by dreams alone.” Your dreams may act as the foundation to your success, but they won’t come to life on their own without a lot of hard work, sacrifice and the courage to kick excuses to the curb.
Dawn Altnam lives and works in the midwest, and she enjoys following the business and career worlds. After furthering her education, she has spent some time researching her interests and blogging of her discoveries often.