“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” - Oprah Winfrey
Fireman, Ballerina, Doctor, Veterinarian. We all had childhood dreams, but eventually you grow up and move on, right? Not if you’re smart.
Approximately 22% of people actually did pursue their childhood dreams and studies show that they are anywhere from 18% to 50% more satisfied in their careers because of it. In fact, just trying to achieve your dreams increases life satisfaction.
Well, good for those people, but it’s not like we can all be astronauts. Besides, what do kids know?
Quite a bit, really. Mostly, they know what they love and love to do, and it’s reflected in their dreams, which are not as unrealistic as some adults might assume. Top three dream professions, in differing age groups, included: Dancer, Musician, Astronaut, Doctor Veterinarian, Scientist, Artist, Engineer, Actor, Teacher, and Writer. Those are just the top three, with many more still choosing lawyer, chef, garbage man, hairdresser, and police officer, etc.
While some might argue that we move on and change our dreams for good reason, that’s sadly not the case. Unfortunately, the alternative to not pursuing childhood dreams is not a toggle from an old dream to a new one. It’s not even an intentional commitment to a more focused and practical alternative. Instead, according to this Guardian article about childhood dream jobs, and an analysis by workplace consultancy firm, CHA, we abandon our dreams to drift into our careers via the path of least resistance -- taking jobs because they become available even when they have little to do with our aspirations.
It’s not like a child who loves and wants to be a veterinarian just decides one day to work instead as a marketing manager at a cable company. She simply finds herself there after a series of muddled decisions. If that child was you, you might cite mounting bills and a fear of failing college biology as your defense.
But pursuing a childhood Vet dream (not accomplishing it; pursuing it) may lead a person to be a vet tech, a marine biologist, a doggie daycare owner or the marketing director of a local zoo. One can easily imagine why that person would be more satisfied with their career.
Consider this article about what 24 famous people wanted to be when they were children. Many of them got exactly what they envisioned; many more got an interesting spin off of the original. But all of them followed the path toward what they wanted and embraced the twists and turns.
The question we all need to ask is, “Did our goals and dreams really change or did we let fear and doubt creep into our decision making?” It’s true that the trajectory of our dreams does not always lead us to where we imagine, but following through on the dreams helps us enjoy the process, enjoy our lives, and become more satisfied with where we end up.
The lesson, better to learn before Plan B fails, is that you might as well pursue your dreams because there are NO guarantees in life against failure. You cannot control and avoid fears by prioritizing safety and security. Life can still bite you in the ass. So you might as well pursue what you really want in life and see where it leads.
As poet, Langston Hughes, wisely said, “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird.”