“Don’t let fear, guilt or self doubt destroy your dreams. If you want something, let yourself want it and take it from there.” - Stephanie Sterner
Have you ever wanted more in your life and thought, “But I already have so much” or “How dare I want more when this is a good career… or a good-enough partner… or a decent life.”
After all, you are likely already living better than 90% of the planet’s inhabitants and you want more? Maybe you should just be grateful and count your blessings and appreciate the things that matter in life like family and health. You should probably stop it with this “trying to be better” nonsense.
Welcome to success guilt -- an amazing source of societal and self sabotage -- where we call the dreamer selfish and suck the wind from their sails.
Here are three reasons why success guilt, and believing dreamers are selfish, is WRONG:
Reason 1: Success is not a pie.
Pursuing or achieving a dream in this world is not the same as eating an extra slice of success pie. Joyful and fulfilled living is not a limited source that gets divided and doled out among the few. Personal success is available to all like sunshine on a cloud free day. Other dreamers don’t suffer loss when you go outside and live into your dreams.
Reason 2: People have a vast array of values and dreams.
Maybe this is a criticism you’ve heard: “We can’t all be art gallery owners and actors. Someone has to collect garbage and file taxes.” Of course! But this criticism of dreamers is silly. Why would anyone believe we all want to same things?
There are many people who dream of being a top-notch accountant. They are people that love numbers and spreadsheets and feel great flow and joy bringing order to money and finding tax law changes and caveats that save people cash. Why would anyone assume standing in an art gallery all day is the better gig? Adults are nuanced and have a range of values and a myriad of ways they hope to live.
Reason 3: You’re a better person when you’re following your bliss.
Just because your basic needs are met, and you are lucky enough to be born to privilege, does not mean you owe the world complacent contentment. In fact, you might just as easily argue that it is disrespectful to stay mired in the day-to-day when those needs are more than met.
If you have what you need in life, then you owe the world your best self; the self that is whole, fulfilled and complete enough to joyfully give back. Not to mention that after you start living according to your values and dreams, you’ll not only be inspired, but inspirational to others.
So, go ahead. Be grateful for your privileges, the sacrifices others have made, your health, income, and future potential. But don’t turn your gratitude into guilt. You are not selfish for wanting to pursue life to the fullest.