Managing Monday: Holding Onto Dreams (To Achieve Them)
During my freshman year of high school, we were given a homework assignment that at the time, I believed to be one of the greatest things ever. First, its completion involved receiving a day off of school–the practical equivalent of hitting the lottery for a high school student. The assignment was to reach out to a person in a career field we were interested in. Our tender 14-year-old selves were to spend the day shadowing said person in an attempt to learn about their job and to determine if in fact, it was a career choice we wanted to pursue ourselves.
Throughout my life, I’ve always been an avid sports fan. Pair that with my ability to tell some pretty good stories (my friends will tell you that I often have to preface a story with, “I swear this is true!”), and I knew from a young age what I wanted to do with my life: Be a sports reporter. I knew that if I practiced the craft and put my head to it, that I’d be able to tell a sports story as well as any other reporter. So, I bravely reached out to the sports editor of one of the big, local papers in Denver. I was thrilled when he offered to allow me to shadow him for the day. My mother was probably less than thrilled, as I immediately conned her into taking me to the mall and buying me some expensive get-up to wear for the event. “But Mom, I have to be dressed for success!”
I still remember waking up that morning and the excitement that filled my bones. I remember putting on my new outfit, my mother dropping me off outside of the impressive office and me thinking, “This is it!”
Well, it wasn’t it. The sports editor that I spent the morning with all but killed my dream of being a sports reporter. I don’t know if he was having a case of the Monday’s or if his dog was killed on his way into work, or what. But he was in a less than “let’s inspire the future of America” mood. To date, I can remember every negative thing he said about the profession. Long hours. I’ll never see a family or be able to have one, at that. If I have one, my home life will be terrible. And, worse of all, I’d come to not even enjoy sports anymore. For my sports loving soul, that was the dagger that stuck the most.
For what it’s worth, I don’t remember a single positive thing he said about the profession during the course of our time together. When my mother, the eternal optimist, picked me up that afternoon, I put on my happy face, lied and said that the meeting was great. Afterall, she had just spent an absurd sum of money on an outfit so her kid could go spend the morning with a jaded dude. I couldn’t let her think that was a waste.
I doubt that the man I met with had the intention of killing my dream of becoming a sports writer. Yet, in a morning spent together, he nearly did just that. I backed off from my position on the student newspaper, and eventually quit before high school was over. I started brainstorming alternative careers, such as becoming a lawyer. I ultimately went that route and did not even pursue journalism in college, largely because of what he told me.
The thing about dreams, is that they are personal. Nobody can tell you what your dreams are or what they should be. Sure, your parents might try to guide you and introduce you to various things which may become interests to you. Yet, at the end of the day, dreams are the one thing that only you can define.
Given the personal nature of dreams, it’s important to know that ultimately, you hold the hand of their fate. Yes, it is true that almost every single dream cannot be achieved without the help of another. However, if your dream dies, the help of that other person is not necessary. Given this, as the keeper of your dreams, you must hold tight to them and refuse to let any external force hamper their existence.
I receive a lot of emails from students, lawyers and business professionals asking about the journey I’m on to make my dreams come true. However, one that I received last week struck me, as it hit close to home. It was a from a 14-year-old young lady who wants to become a sports reporter. She reached out to me and asked if I had any tips for her in pursuing this dream. While I laid out general ideas that will definitely help her, there was one thing that I said that I think was the most important tidbit: Never let go of your dream.
Right now, I’m reading Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. It talks largely about how each of us is put on this planet to fulfill a very specific purpose. How do we know what our purpose is? One way to recognize your purpose, is to take a look at your passions. What do you enjoy? What motivates you? What are the driving forces in your life? By just answering these questions, you can gain an idea of what purpose you are here to serve. It is likely, that your dreams center around accomplishing your purpose here on earth.
I wish that the sports editor I met with 14 years ago gave me different advice than he did. I wish he would have encouraged me to pursue my dream and ultimately, live out my purpose here on earth. Had he done that, my life would likely look different from what it does today. Perhaps I would have pursued a different course of study. Maybe I wouldn’t be working as a lawyer. Chances are that I would already have a full-time job in media.
While it’s easy to quickly point the finger at him for dashing my dream, the fact of the matter is that I was too immature to realize that nobody but me is responsible for holding onto my dreams and seeing them to fruition.
Thus, today’s advice is simple: Hold onto your dreams.
As crazy as they may seem, they are yours. That in and of itself makes them worth believing in.
As far-fetched as they may seem, you came up with them. The fact that the thought entered your head means that it is capable of being put into existence.
As unrealistic as they may seem, they can come true. The old saying is, where there is a will, there’s a way. You just need to find it.
At 28-years-old, I have a new rule when it comes to accepting the advice of those who may be able to help me achieve my dreams: Only accept it if it will allow me to achieve my dreams. I no longer listen to naysayers, unbelievers, and people who gave up on their dreams long ago. And neither should you.
Your dreams are personal. As anything else that is yours, you must hold onto them.