A few weeks ago, I asked my 5-year-old son what he wanted to be when he grew up.
“I want to be an astronaut,” he replied. “I want to visit the moon, planets and stars in my spaceship.”
Like many children, my son lives in an exciting world full of potential. He isn’t afraid to dream big.
Unfortunately, many of us lose this trait as we get older, squashed by those who deem such thinking as unrealistic. We are told to “settle down” or to get a “real job”, that chasing a dream will only lead to disappointment and financial ruin.
I understand the skepticism of such individuals. They want you to be happy, successful and secure. However, chasing a dream can be advantageous – even if you ultimately fail to achieve your dream – provided you are responsible, open-minded and practical.
Below are four good reasons why you should always aim for the stars.
You will be happy (as long as you’re responsible)
Following a dream that aligns with your passion leads to happiness. The only caveat is that you must remember to fulfill your everyday responsibilities.
Daniel’s childhood dream was to become a famous rock star. Eric Clapton and Slash were his heroes, and by age 13 he had memorized most of the Rolling Stones’ classic hits. In high school, his peers deemed him the “most likely to become famous” in the school yearbook.
At 29 years old, Daniel has yet to become a world-famous rock star. However, this hasn’t stopped him from regularly playing at local bars and clubs where he is well-liked and respected as a musician.
Though he continues to pursue his dream, Daniel maintains an income as a music instructor and remains committed to his husband and daughter. He his happy.
The one important lesson from Daniel’s story is that it’s okay to pursue your dream as long as you remember to take care of your responsibilities.
Keep an open mind and you may discover a hidden path
Following one’s dream can be full of unexpected turns. Often these moments lead us right back to our intended destination. However, sometimes they can lead us to a different, more exciting, path.
Since she was a young girl, Patricia wanted to be a famous Hollywood actress. She dedicated much of her spare time to singing, acting and dancing. She had a natural stage presence, with a bold and engaging personality.
Though acting was her childhood dream, Patricia kept an open mind and was always on the lookout for new opportunities.
Following university, Patricia discovered the same extroverted personality that led her to want to be an actress also made her a natural fit for the business world. She would change paths and years later open her own public relations agency. Now in her 40s, Patricia is widely seen as a leader in her industry.
Patricia’s willingness to pursue a different path led to her being successful. If you want to succeed, you must be open-minded and willing to adapt to changing circumstances.
Halfway to the stars still gets you past the moon
The halfway point for a dreamer is often higher than the mountaintop of the non-dreamer.
Richard’s parents have always encouraged their son to be the best that he could be. This environment combined with their son’s desire to help people in need led Richard to want to become prime minister of Canada.
Though the idea of becoming a nation’s leader may seem near-impossible to many, Richard was practical and methodical. He developed a step-by-step plan that would lead him to achieve his dream:
- Excel in the classroom.
- Participate in community events.
- Get accepted into law school. (According to Richard’s research, most politicians had legal backgrounds.)
- Run for local office.
- Run for prime minister.
As planned, Richard got the highest marks in class and became a community leader. Later, he would get accepted into the University of Toronto’s law school and go on to become a human rights lawyer, his current profession.
Though he has yet to become prime minister, no one considers Richard a failure. Instead, he is widely admired as a successful lawyer and community leader.
Richard’s story teaches us that chasing your dream, no matter how daunting, can make a lot of practical sense. Just remember to have a good backup plan
You might actually reach your destination
Let’s not forget that professional sports teams, Broadway shows, academia, etc. are comprised largely of people who dared to dream big. These people dreamed of reaching the stars and were able to fulfill their dreams.
Maybe you will, too.