Everyone says that you should chase and embrace your dream and not run away from it. I wholeheartedly agree. But what if you don’t know what your dream is? How can you know if you are running towards or away from it if “it” is a nebulous concept?
Sure, most of us know that we want to be happy. Happiness if our life goal, but it is not a dream. It’s too ambiguous, too largess to break down into smaller action steps. Usually we want to be happy by achieving our dream. So happiness is our end and the dream is our means to achieve it.
So what is your dream? If you were to ask a five year old, they would say, “to go to outer space” or “to be the President”. But as we grow older and walk into the real world, we become burdened by life and lose our dream. Our dream also changes based on our experiences and exposure to new things. We are also daunted by the sheer pressure and magnitude of “dream”. The dream has to be unrealistic! The dream has to impact society! And if you are not achieving your dream, you are wasting your time! And if you say that you don’t really know what your dream is exactly, you get pitied and a pat on the back: “it’s OK. You’ll figure it out.” Especially among the Millennial Generation, the dream question is almost a litmus test for our ambition and focus. Oh you don’t have a dream like eradicating polio? Well then, you should probably get more serious about life.
Yet why does having a dream have to be so black-and-white? Why do you have to have a specific dream? The world is constantly changing, and a lot of us are struggling to adapt and discover our passion and calling. Why is it not OK to have a nebulous dream attached to your passion, such as “I’m passionate about the global emerging middle class and want to do something consumer retail, but I’m not sure what exactly want to do?” Why is that looked down upon?
Some argue that we have to have a concrete dream. If we take the emerging middle class example above, a concrete dream would be “I want to create a multinational empire of luxury goods spawning three continents that caters to the new purchasing power of the middle class”. We are expected to have concrete dreams because otherwise, we would be mis- or unfocused and not have the drive to make the best of life.
I disagree. Sure having concrete dream is great. But it’s not feasible for a lot of us simply because we are still trying to figure it out. At the same time, it shouldn’t be a shame to only have a nebulous dream. A dream is not a goal. A dream is made out of many goals, and as long as we take appropriate and actionable steps to meet these goals, a dream will emerge. A dream can be a nebulous concept. We might not know whether we are running directly towards to it and taking the shortest route possible but we do know that we are running around it. And isn’t that what life is about? Not having blinders and being able to explore things you never thought of? Yes, it might take more time for those of us with nebulous dreams, but the journey to find and define the dream influences the dream itself.
Special thanks to Yvette for edits