If you know me at all, then you already know that I like talking to others to learn their stories and find out what their passions are in life. Well, I was recently enjoying a Sabbath lunch with some friends and there was this young man there who was probably 20 or 21 years old, so I set out to do just that with him.
While we were talking, I asked him where he is in his life’s journey. He told me about a couple of internships he had completed, mentioning further that he was in finance. “You like finance?” I asked. I was a little floored by his response.
This young man told me that he was actually working to figure out which type of finance he could tolerate the most. Turns out, he really didn’t like finance at all.
Of course, I then asked, “So, what kind of work would you want to do if you could choose something you simply loved to do?” He responded that his ideal career would involve being a lobbyist, quickly adding that that it wasn’t an option because “no one in his town is a lobbyist,” referencing the fact that no one in his circle was doing anything like that so he felt that this wasn’t a suitable career for him either.
It really saddened me that, at such a young age, he had already put himself in a box and limited his options. Instead of searching for a career that he would love with all of his heart and soul, one that would satisfy him to the core, he felt that his only option was to choose one that he hated the least.
Just imagine what his life will be 25 years down the road if he sticks with his current path. He’ll wake up one day wearing golden handcuffs because, despite the fact that he may be making good money, he will probably despise finance more than he does today. And there will always be that part of him that feels unfilled because he didn’t follow his dreams.
Dreams are important. They are the visions of what we aspire for in our lives. They help us through tough times, driving us to prevail when all we want to do is quit. They’re also the images we keep in our heads when we wonder why we’re working so hard, putting in so much effort, and giving it all we’ve got.
If I could imprint anything in that young man’s head, it would be to not lose his dream at such a young age. Don’t give up on what you want because you don’t see anyone around you doing it. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to go places where others around you have never gone before. Step outside your box. Explore and experience the world around you.
Dreams are put in us for a reason. They’re there to charter us down the path that is intended for us. They exist to keep us moving in a direction that offers us the most happiness, the most satisfaction, and the most contentment.
Whether you’re 6, 16, or 60, make a conscious decision to keep your dreams in the forefront of your mind. Give yourself permission to follow them and see where they take you. If you’re scared, take it slow. Do it part time or as a volunteer until you’re sure that’s what you want. Then, when you’re ready, jump in with both feet.
You’ve got nothing to lose by testing your dreams out. And everything to gain.