How to keep chasing your dreams
“Chasing your dreams” is one of those big, lofty phrases that gets thrown around a lot in Disney films and at motivational speaker conferences. But what does it mean to actually chase your dreams? And how the heck does anyone start turning a dream into a reality?
These are all questions I’ve asked myself a thousand times over. Thankfully, I’ve been really lucky to make a lot of my dreams come true — from working for myself as a freelance writer to singing in a band to having fiction published in national magazines, I’m constantly amazed at all the awesome people who’ve helped me realize my goals.
Now that I am where I am, I want to try and distill some of the things I’ve learned about what it means to start chasing your dreams. This is by no means a catch-all list, nor is it a how-to guide. The following are simply some of the lessons I’ve picked up from my journey so far, and hopefully they’ll be helpful to you as you pursue your own path.
With that out of the way, let’s chase our dreams, shall we?
How to start chasing your dreams
I’m going to assume something here — and yes, we all know what happens when you assume things, but bear with me. My assumption is that if you’re here right now, you either don’t know exactly how to start chasing your dreams, or you aren’t quite sure what your dreams are just yet. Both of those things are fine. I was in that spot, too.
What I learned is that it’s probably even more advantageous for you if you don’t know what you’re doing just yet. That’s because now is the best possible time to explore all the options available to you. If you don’t know what you want to do with your life, try sampling everything.
Interested in food? Try working as a cook in a restaurant on weekends. If you’re a self-starter type, now’s the time to start a small side hustle — that’ll help you get a taste of what entrepreneurship feels like. Or, if you’re the creative type, go and spend a day in a bookstore and try to imagine what it’d be like to write your own novel.
The goal is to believe that anything is possible right now. Take life by the reins and seize what opportunities come your way. Get playful with it!
2. Be courageous
Chasing your dreams isn’t for the faint of heart. Now is not the time to think too small, nor is it a time to look for “balance” in your life. Instead, from this point on, be courageous about everything you do. If your dream is to be a famous musician, then that means you can’t be afraid to play the biggest stage in town — or, well, you can, but you have to be okay with being afraid and still believing you’re good enough to play that stage.
Take chances. Assert yourself. Don’t let others take your spotlight just because you didn’t strike while the iron was hot!
3. Build a foundation
Alright. We’ve had our pep-talk moment, but now it’s time to get serious. Dreams are really fun to fantasize and… well… daydream about, but they’re not much good at all if you don’t actually sit down and create a foundation for them.
For instance, if your dream is to be an author, that means you have to sit down and write. If your dream is to own your own storefront, then it pays to start investing in business management classes that will help you down the line. The point is this: you need to be just as pragmatic about your dreams as you are determined to achieve them. Otherwise, you risk turning into someone who dreams a whole lot, and does very little.
And you don’t want to be that person, because we’ve all met people like that. They’re terrible at parties, aren’t they?
4. Dream big, or dream small
Your dreams are your own. Don’t let anyone else tell you how “big” or “little” they need to be. While you certainly don’t want to settle for something that doesn’t make you happy, you do want to move toward things that do make you happy — and it’s just as likely as not that those things aren’t huge, fame-garnering goals.
Maybe you just want to own your own store. Or maybe your dream is to have a kickass job that helps you support your growing family. That’s amazing! Whatever your dreams are, remember that it’s what you believe about your dreams that makes them so amazing… not the actual dream itself.
Or, to put it in other words: chasing your dreams is about the joy of the journey, friend. It’s not about the size of the destination.
5. Believe in your dreams
I’m throwing this word “belief” around a lot, aren’t I? That’s intentional. When it comes to chasing your dreams, everything has to do with your beliefs. What do I mean by this?
Let’s look at how a lot of people talk about their dreams. Lots of people say “I’d be able to do what I love if I just had the time.” Others will say “I’d like to pursue my dreams, but I’m just too tired to do it.” While fatigue and time constraints are a fact of life, I’m of the mind that if you believe you can’t do something, then you’re absolutely right.
That’s true of what you believe you can do, too. If you think there’s always enough time in the day, there will be. If you’re tired but you think you can squeeze in a little time to chase your dreams before you go to bed each night, then you’ll be able to. It’s not really you’re current situation that’s stopping you from tackling your dreams — it’s how you think about your situation.
So, are you going to put energy into beliefs that help you do what you love and want? Or will you put energy into limiting thoughts instead?
6. Create a vision board
Are you a visual learner? If that’s the case, it might help you to create a vision board to start chasing your dreams. Start with your “North Star” at the top of your board — that’s going to be whatever your big, lofty goal is. Then, work your way toward it from the bottom up, using visual imagery, quotes and bullet points to chart your path along the way.
7. Write down what you want to accomplish
This is really a no-brainer, but if you’re not keeping a journal to track your progress toward your dreams, you really should be. A journal can take whatever form you want it to, as long as you’re using it to keep yourself inspired and on-course.
The best part about keeping one? Someday you’ll be able to look back at that very first entry, and you’ll have the opportunity to reflect upon everything you’ve accomplished. For that reason alone, it’s worth keeping a journal at hand.
8. Learn from failure and adjust accordingly
Failure is never a bad thing! Let me repeat that: failure is never a bad thing. Failure teaches us so much that, most of the time, it’s just as useful as success. The truth is, dreams wouldn’t be called dreams if they were easy to achieve. The fact that dreams are a little difficult to accomplish is what makes them worthwhile in the first place.
So, fail a lot, and fail with confidence. Learn from the lessons of your failures, and try to see them in a different way. Did you really fail? Or did you just learn something new that’s going to help you figure out what to do better the next time you attempt to tackle your dreams?
Chasing your dreams starts with you
Let me let you in on a little secret. I think you clicked on this article for a very specific reason. I don’t think you actually needed a step-by-step guide to crushing your dreams. I think what you really needed was that extra nudge from someone who’s going to look at you and say, “Go ahead. It’s okay to chase your dreams.”
And that person? That person is me. I’m telling you right now that I believe in you. I want you to conjure up the most wonderful, incredible dream you can, and then I want you to lay the groundwork needed to seize it. I want you to fail lots, and fail forward. I want you to journal about it, and consult your vision board every day.
And, lastly? After you’ve gone and achieved your dreams? I want you to tell me all about them.