What Really Holds Us Back From Living Our Dreams?

Is Patience More Important Than Money?

You’ve probably heard sayings like this before. Be yourself. Live your dreams. Do what you want to do. Its sounds simple and easy on the surface, but most people don’t follow such advice. In the back of our minds, what we really want seems to be out of reach, but usually its just out of reach for mundane, simple reasons. Probably the two most common of those reasons are lack of money and fear. Both actually feed into each other. If you want to open your own designer cupcake store, you probably need $50,000 that you don’t have. At the same time you fear asking your boss for a raise so you can save for it, or looking for a better job, or approaching a bank with a business plan to see if you can get a loan.

Fear and lack of money are the two most primal forces that keep people from living their dreams. They are both seemingly concrete, impenetrable barriers to change, yet at the same time they are illusions of the mind. There are of course all sorts of things that can go wrong if you take your chances and try to live your dreams by starting out with just a small amount of money and a small amount of courage and/or rebellion against the status quo. We are conditioned by the prefrontal cortex of our brains to avoid change. Anything that’s working in some modest respect seems better to the brain, because its predictable. The unknown is just too threatening, too unpredictable.

All of human progress over the past several thousand years however has come about because people took chances and defied their fears. Building bridges, aircraft carriers, the science that led to a cure for polio, or fostering a fashionable national interest in SpongeBob Squarepants, all came about because someone believed it could be done and faced their fears to get started on making it happen.

The one thing we tend to overlook in living our dreams, the thing that keeps us back from actually doing it, is the factor of time. We don’t realize how much time is involved in making fundamental changes because they often involve entirely new, experimental areas of activity.

If someone came up to you and told you you could leave your job at the city water department and invent a new way of growing wheat in the desert that would feed countless people in Africa, and make you a multi-millionaire, would you do it? What if they then told you it would take you thirty years of dedicated work to accomplish the task?

This is the problem with living a dream. Usually its something so new that a whole range of prepatory steps must be taken to make it a reality. You need to research the thing you are interested in, get advice from people who have been there, experiment with start-ups and expect failures from them, and so on. This is why anything new and exciting can take a long time to develop, but in the end there’s a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that makes everything you had to go through worth the effort.

Living your dreams gives your life a sense of meaning that you’ll never find anywhere else. The years are going to pass by anyway, and five years from now you’ll be five years older, regardless. Why not spend the intervening time working for something you really want, instead of feeling trapped in a situation you secretly loathe? Someone’s got to take care of all those poor, starving Somali children. Why not go down in the history books as it being you, the person who cured African famine once and for all? Or you could just be the guy that folded the most paperclips in a day and get your picture up on the factory floor. Your choice.