Is “following your dreams” a fallacy?

We have been programmed towards “following our dreams”. There seems to be no other alternative but to do so. We are fixated with it. Our focus is the future. Our time is spent on pushing towards these goals. Today’s competitive environment does not readily allow for alternatives. We are told if we do not follow our dreams, we would be helping someone follow theirs. Is that really so bad? Is there no “living in the now?”. Why are we not allowed to enjoy the present? There may not be a tomorrow (fatalistic, but completely in the realm of possibilities). We end up either regretting or reminiscing about the past or worrying about the future. The most important time, “now”, is being spent in the pursuit of “later”.

Do whatever sets your soul on fire. Enjoy what you love. Follow your passions. But keep an open mind when single mindedly following your dream’s. Dream’s change. We change. Our circumstances and our environments change. Life takes us in directions we had not planned. We have to take take stock intermittently and realign our direction and our dreams.  Walt Disney said it best “first think. Then dream”. Let’s not become so embroiled in the chase that we lose track of the target. Happiness.

If I only had a penny for all the time’s I made plans (New year’s resolutions) and was sidetracked by “life” with new opportunities, new alliances, new directions etc. 

Additionally, to enable this one-dimensional focus on our dreams, one has to say NO to all the other alternatives. One can always run parallel lives but usually it’s a full-on commitment required to “follow your dreams”.

There is a myth created by consultants, coaches and gurus etc. that if you’re not happy with your life, ditch the 9-5 and create your own timetable. It’s not that simple. You will surely end up working twice as hard for the initial few years. Then, and that’s also a maybe, if all goes well, you may have a chance at creating your own timetable, to an extent. Not everyone is made to live the life of an entrepreneur. One also must question their dreams. What is the underlying “need” to achieve them? Are they realistic? What do I really want out of my dreams? Etc.

A job provides certainty. It provides predictability and balance. It provides an assurance of a certain fixed amount of income. In that assurance there is security, structure and a certain comfort in terms of the knowledge that you know what you’re doing. With entrepreneurship, it is not only the risk taking in terms of financials, but also everything else and then some.

There is much to be said FOR following your dreams. There is also much to be said for keeping an open mind. Not getting lost in the dream that “may not materialize” or “may have been the dream when you started, but now…”. Also, enjoying life along the way and not getting lost in the focus for tomorrow. Having substitute plans in place. Flexibility in your approach. Allowing for and being open to change, because there will be changes along the way.

I am not dissuading people from working towards your dreams. Not in any way shape or form. I am simply putting forth alternative thoughts on ensuring that one does not get consumed by this “forward thinking” paradigm. It’s the total disregard for the present in mindless pursuit of the future (dreams) that I contest. That is the wrench in the system. It is keeping people from enjoying the present, the now.

This may be considered as a defeatist narrative. It may not hold much water in terms of the alternative to “following your dreams”. It is not meant to be defeatist. It is not meant to be an alternative. It simply provides food for thought on the potential consequences of laser focusing on one aspect, and not opening up to the potential of today. Now.

In the end, it’s not that you did not follow your dreams. It’s that you got so entangled in it that you did not live life. The now, the present, is what we have. The rest is just plans.

Live life. Now.

Uzair is an ex-banker and a serial entrepreneur. He has trained/consulted in over 15 countries. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM-UK) as well as a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI-UK), and also an adjunct professor at a university teaching the executive MBA. Uzair has featured in over 20 different publications. He is an advisor to the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development ASB team, A Board member at an OD/HR company and a member of Mensa.