As we approach the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, many of us who observe the holiday ruminate on the usual things you think about when a New Year comes and goes. We mull over what we've accomplished in the past year (or what we haven't), and what we'd like to do in the next. So much of this often revolves around our dreams and ambitions, and how we want to fulfill them.
We all have dreams, right? Some of us pursue them, some of us don't. Some of us are satisfied to have pursued dreams, others of us are bitter that we never gave our dreams a chance, instead opting to take the "safe" way out (whatever that even means anymore, but that's a discussion for another time.)
It's one thing to pursue a dream, if you are one of those few who decides to go after theirs. But how do you achieve it? Assuming that you have the the talent, the skills, and the drive, so many crucial factors are still out of your control. The market and the timing play into whether or not we succeed. So how do we achieve our dreams?
Having pursued my share of dreams over the years, I've learned a few things:
Have realistic goals - It's crucial to give yourself breathing room as to how you set out to accomplish your goals, especially if you choose a high risk path with a low probability of success. For example, if you want to work in the music business, you may set out to be an artist. But maybe you're more naturally skilled at being an agent or a promoter, and that's where your path takes you. That's *still* working in the music business, a huge accomplishment in and of itself, with a flexible definition of what it means to have achieved that dream.
Have flexible definitions of achievement - A wise friend once advised me on a project I was working on. I had huge fantasies of scaling this project into something big. She said to me, "This project is not going to be the end goal for you. It's going to teach you invaluable skills that you're going to be able to market in something else, down the road." And she turned out to be right. The project never scaled, and I ended up having to abandon it. However, I learned some great skills that I have since put to use. So while it was disappointing at the time to not have scaled my passion project, I have since come to consider that project a success, and a dream achieved.
Have more than one dream - The funny thing about having dreams is, they change and morph over time. Perhaps you find you don't have the same passion for a dream that you once did, or it turns out to be much different than you first thought it would be. Perhaps the sacrifice is too great. Or, maybe you've accomplished one set of goals and decide to move on to other ideas of what a dream means to you. For example, having a family is a dream for some people. For any of these reasons, one of the wisest things you can do in life is to have more than one dream. No one can predict the twists and turns your life will take, so being open to new passions and priorities, as well as taking new risks, helps keep dreams in perspective.
Overall, life is too important to take so seriously that you become stuck on or married to any one particular dream or outcome. Remaining open to possibilities keeps us young, keeps us satisfied with our lives, and open to new dreams that we might not have known of, otherwise. Isn't what life is about?
L'Shana Tova, everyone!
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