Why do we ask children what they want to be when they grow up? Perhaps because we want to be proud parents that our children want to be significant people in life. But what defines that significance? Why would you encourage your child to be lawyer and not a musician or vice versa? Chances are its your perception of the world or how you would want the world (friends, family, colleagues, community) to view you.

You do not have to say much for a child to know whether you approve of their dreams or not. The look on your face, the tone of your voice, mildly added to what you say means everything. Your perception of the world is viewed through your verbal and non-verbal reaction.

We have then picked that cliché question at our work places. In every interview we want to know where the candidate wants to be in the next five years. Whether this is a genuine question or not it does not just tell you something about the interviewee but about the interviewer as well.

A young man told me of two different interviews he attended. To answer the question of who he wants to be in five years, he said “A CEO”. In one company the interviewers almost jeered. He could see it on their face. In the second company the interviewers’ faces were filled with approval and they went ahead to make him paint a picture of how that would like.

Thinking of it the first set of interviewers probably had an image of a big position in a big office/company. A position that should take you years of sweat, connections and ageing. A task that the young man was ‘not capable of’. This may be right based on their experience and perception. The second set of interviewers saw an ambitious and focused young man who was capable of achieving his dream with the right guidance and support. This too is shaped by their experience and view of the world.

He had a choice to second guess his goal based on the first experience but the second experience grounded his dream. He started the journey to set up and lead his company. Who are you selling your dreams to? Just like in sales, not every prospect is your client.

Advice is good, but remember that we mostly advice based on our experiences and perception of the world. If one failed in a venture and chose to see it as failure that is what they will sell to you. Like they say “Do not ask for advice from someone who has not been where you are going.” But even if they have been there you need to know that they either made it, learnt a lesson or appreciated the journey. In short that their mind is not fixated to one view. They will then be open minded enough to let you dream, experience the journey and learn albeit with better guidance.

There are no standards in life or like we said in high school ‘No one is the SI unit for anything.’ The fact that you failed on a certain endeavor does not mean the other person has to fail. The fact the other person succeeded does not necessarily mean that you will succeed. We are all facing a unique set of circumstances from our motives, drives, seasons, learning curves, values…the list is endless.

To follow or not to follow your dream based on someone else account is a disservice to your life. Before you start or stop make sure it is based on personal conviction more than anyone else views. Your dreams and your actions define you. Do not let others define you with what they tell you to do or not to do.

If not for any other reason, follow your conviction or as we call it ‘gut feeling’ to your dream because;

  • People who follow their dreams are doers. Doers have more power to create, influence, and change their environment… and eventually the world.
  • Following your dreams might take unexpected turns, but those are the exciting and memorable challenges of living the dream.
  • The challenges will help you grow as they make you step out of your comfort zone.
  • Dreams make you take chances, but chances can bring more opportunities
  • You will inspire others to follow their dreams, even if they know nothing about you.
  • Following your dreams makes you interesting.
  • Accomplishing your dreams will spark even bigger dreams; You feel you have something more to live for.
  • You will regret it later in life, and if you’re delaying it, you will question yourself why did not you do it sooner.
  • Not following your dreams makes you feel unaccomplished. Eventually, this will stop you from dreaming altogether.
  • It will attract some attention, even from the naysayers and haters: You will feel strong as you prove the naysayers wrong.
  • Life feels more memorable; hence you feel and become more memorable.

There are no rules in life so why limit yourself to what everybody else is doing…And who doesn’t love to challenge the status quo?

It’s your life, Chat your path and live under your own terms!

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