Below is a list (in no particular order) of things that – at some point in my life – I thought I wanted (and maybe a few that I still do).
- The Batmobile
- Long heavy metal hair
- To look like a member of the Beatles
- A ticket to a Michael W. Smith concert (circa 1991)
- Name-brand shorts
- To see a Yahoo Serious movie
- A mustang (car, not horse)
The point is – sometimes we want things in the moment we don’t want later. Our whims lead us to bad haircuts, weird t-shirts and questionable entertainment. And that’s if we are lucky. In more extreme cases, you could end up in a lawsuit with DC Comics for trying to make a broken-down Camaro look like classic superhero transportation.
Culturally we talk a lot of “pursuing your dreams” and “never giving up” but we often fail to acknowledge that in some cases, you should give up. Maybe your dream is the wrong one.
So the challenge becomes knowing when to push on and when to toss the towel in and decide your energies may be best used elsewhere.
Here are a few ideas on ways to “road test” your dream before driving it off the lot.
Find 3 close friends who have NOTHING to gain (or lose) from your dream and ask their honest opinion.
Hollywood-ready success stories always have the star saying “EVERYONE told me I was crazy, but I kept going…” but the chances are not EVERYONE was being negative. And some of those that were, may have had a good reason for caution. Temper the opinions you hear about your aspirations with a consideration of the motivations others might have. Is your old college roommate “just jealous” of you, or have they made bad decisions in the past they want to protect you from?
Side hustle for as long as you can.
In her (IMO) MUST-READ book, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert makes a hard case for waiting to tie essential revenue to your passions. She argues that when eating becomes dependent on your dream, stress fractures are very likely to occur and lead to burnout or worse. If you can nurture the thing you love inside a safety net for a considerable length of time, do it.
Gut and passion are key to being creative and fulfilled. But they shouldn’t be excuses later used for bad timing or poor execution. In the internet age, a plethora of tips, tricks and how-to’s await just a few keystrokes and scrolls down the line. Visit a library. Have coffee with other people doing what you love. Find out all you can. Look before you leap (all the way) in.