If you had a million dollars, what would you do?
Seriously. Think about that for a moment. What would you do?
I can honestly say, “Exactly what I’m doing right now.” And I can say that because I’m busy following my dreams.
Now, I can’t imagine anyone needing a reason to follow their dreams. But I understand that pushing into the unknown is frightening for some.
And so I present you with 10 great reasons for why you should get started today.
10) It makes life worth living
Your dreams will get you through the worst times, and they’ll make the best times what they are.
My dreams kept me going through 5 miserable years of working for temp agencies, when everything looked so hopeless and there was no concrete reason to believe I would ever publish my work, travel or live abroad.
But so many people plod along in the same well worn track as all those before them, driven here and there by impulse and instinct in a sterile Pavlovian existence. They live nine-to-five lives, affecting no one and changing nothing. The world is no better or worse for their having existed. They leave no trace; like a song they just fade away.
The very idea horrifies me. I want to change something, to leave my own small footprint in time.
When you commit to following your dreams, life stops happening to you. You stop living in the 3rd person.
9) You’ll be an inspiration to others
When you follow your dreams, you become a source of inspiration for everyone around you.
You’ll give hope to others who are caught in the grind. You’ll influence friends. And you’ll spark the fires of curiosity in total strangers, especially the young. We need that in an age when our ambitions are so small and so personal, and when success is merely a matter of purchasing power.
If I could achieve some of my bigger or more outrageous dreams, then you can bring yours to reality too. All you have to do is decide—and get started.
8) Working in a job you hate will kill you
Working in a job you hate will kill you—both literally and figuratively. It’ll crush your spirit and ruin your health.
Think about it. We spend our days locked in offices, working day after day at jobs that don’t matter to buy things no one needs. We sell our souls so easily, our freedom, for someone else’s definition of success, for a morsel of bland white bread. Comfort has made zombies of us all.
But here’s the thing. No one’s making you stay there. You have a choice. Now step up and make that choice, no matter how impossible it seems.
You aren’t serving anyone by grinding it out in a job or lifestyle or city you despise. You bring more to the world by embracing your fullest potential, and by living out your unique individual journey.
While we each have many talents, we have only one true gift. You’ll recognize yours immediately because it’s the only one that doesn’t feel like “work.”
7) No one’s going to do it for you
No one cares whether you succeed or not. And the only one who cares about your dreams is you.
Remember: life won’t wait around. If you want it to happen, then you have to take charge. You’re not going to win the lottery, or be discovered, or get adopted by a rich tycoon. The only thing you can realistically count on is the actions you set in motion through your own initiative.
There are times when we know that the way we are living is preventing us from truly living. It requires courage to take that first step, to follow your inner light when guilt, fear, habit, and other people are urging you to stay where you are.
You must have great determination. That and imagination: the power to dream great dreams. That first step is the hardest one of all. Get moving. Your time is running out.
6) You’ll get revenge, sweet revenge
When you follow your dreams and start making them come true, you’ll taste the sweet nectar of revenge.
If proving your naysayers wrong is the motivation you need to get started on your path, then so be it. You’ll find that other things will matter much more once you’re on track. But being the underdog can help light those fires of determination when the rewards are a long way off.
Sometimes I think of all those people who discouraged me during my years of struggle, and who looked down on the life I was patiently building. And I think of one guy in particular. I’ve forgotten his name by now, but he came to symbolize everything I was up against.
We were both temps shuffling files in a government office. He was a graduate of the business program at a local college, and he laughed when he saw me sitting in the corner every day on my lunch break, working on a manuscript as I ate. He also mocked me for calling golf an old man’s game. “Golf is a business game!” he said with a sneer. “But you wouldn’t know anything about how to make a deal.”
Well, that guy’s probably making coffee for someone in an office right now. And I’m running a successful online business with 10 employees. Oh, and that manuscript he ridiculed became my first book, and it got a coveted starred review in Publisher’s Weekly.
I don’t think about those people very often, of course. It’s sunny in the Mediterranean, and I’ve got far too much to do. But when I do think of them, I always have a satisfied smile on my face.
5) Regrets, you’ll have a boatload
Think how you’ll feel if you get near the end of your life and discover that you didn’t do anything to follow your dreams. That, in fact, you didn’t even try.
You begin by resenting those brave, determined souls who follow their dreams. And if you stop listening to that little voice inside you, you will eventually stop dreaming altogether.
You’ll become one of those sad, broken, hollow people who wake up on their deathbed and realize they only had one crack at all of this. It’s over, but they never even started. And don’t think this can’t happen to you. It creeps into your life like dry rot creeps into the frame of a house.
Remember this: Our lives are the briefest of moments, and they pass by like a dream. There’s no second chance for those who fail to grasp it. Such people simply reach old age and live out the rest of their days in the hollow depths of remorse, with nothing to hold in their hands to show that they had lived except for the dried remains of all that should have been—the discarded husks of their dreams.
4) You’ll experience incredible personal growth
Growth happens when you stretch yourself, when you go beyond your comfort zones, and when you challenge yourself to do something audacious, something that barely seems possible. Stepping into the unknown is never comfortable, but it’ll change you in ways you could never have imagined.
You’ll never know your limits if you never push them. But when you chase your dreams wherever they lead, you’ll learn about the world and yourself. And you will become courageous, because you’ll face your fears and go ahead anyway. You’ll come to feel deep in your bones that with your brain and a little effort you can get by in any situation.
Food will taste better. You’ll smile more. Small day to day things will become beautiful. And this will happen because each of those days is a step along the path you have chosen for yourself.
Life is about growth. And you’ll have plenty of time to stagnate once it’s over.
3) Following your dreams makes you interesting
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to hang around with whiners, or with people who tell me why they can’t do something. Pessimistic people who buy into the straightjacket status quo are unimaginative cardboard people, and they’re no fun at all.
I want to hang out with dreamers. Readers of books. Hopeless romantics. Impractical people who manage to somehow succeed at doing seemingly impossible things. In other words, people who inspire me. And when you follow your dreams, you become one of those people too.
Don’t let others define you or tell you who to be. Define yourself through your actions. Live life on your terms.
2) It sure beats watching TV
“We won!” says the sports fan when his favourite team makes the finals.
No, you didn’t. They won. You just sat there and watched it on TV. And “they” don’t even know you exist.
Will you live your life vicariously through someone else? Is that really enough for you? Watching someone else’s achievements and imaging they’re your own?
Wouldn’t you rather look at memories instead? Your own memories, of the things you actually did, the adventures you had, the people you’ve known, the things that happened to you—all played out on the screen of your mind.
When you follow your dreams, you create memories that you’ll examine and cherish long after the desire to get out there in the world has faded.
1) Finally… you’re going to die!
And that’s the biggest reason of all, isn’t it?
Your death—YOUR death—is approaching you at a relentless, unstoppable rate of sixty seconds each minute, sixty minutes each hour. And one day your heart will simply stop beating. Or you’ll get some hideous disease and die slowly. Or you’ll be the victim of an accident which snuffs out your light in an instant.
One of these things will happen to each of us, because we all entered this world with an expiry date. And we only have a limited amount of time to squeeze the most out of the wonderful opportunity we’ve been given.
Knowing this is the greatest reason that I can think of for following your dreams.
Maybe your dream is to spend a year in Paris. Or to write a book, or have a family, or build a business. Maybe it’s to relocate to a small Mediterranean island, like I did. Or maybe it’s to cram as many interesting experiences into this short life as you can.
It doesn’t matter what your dream is. And in the end, it doesn’t even matter if you achieve it. Chasing it will change you in ways you never imagined. And I would wish that for you.
Now what are you waiting for? Sometimes opportunity really does knock only once.