What do we want to achieve in this one life that we have been blessed with? How do we define success?
These are important questions, and the answers are as unique to each one of us as our DNA and fingerprints. They are part of what distinguishes us from one another. I believe that the only measure of personal success is if we can one day look back at our lives and honestly say, with a smile, that we are satisfied with what we see and with what we have achieved. It is not what other people think of your success, but what you think of it. Randy Pausch once said that we need to give ourselves permission to dream. You and I need to live the life that we dream of and define success on our terms.
“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Dreams are simply our aspirations or our ambitions in life. Most of our dreams are just dreams that make us feel good. Then we have those dreams that just don’t want to disappear. Persisting dreams that we just can’t get rid of… These are the dreams that I believe are the ones that we have to chase with everything that we’ve got – whatever it takes. When deciding on which dream we want to chase, aspire to or make a reality in our lives, I believe we need to consider the following as preconditions before we convert these into personal goals that we start to actively work on:
- Our abilities – if I had a dream of becoming a successful golf professional, then I simply would never, ever have been able to make this dream a reality, as I simply don’t have enough ball sense. It doesn’t matter how many times I would have spent on the driving range or with a coach, this dream would simply never have been able to take flight.
- Available resources – I am a firm believer in an approach that nothing is impossible, but if I for example had a dream of building a people transportation system to Mars, then I frankly don’t have the resources to do it and will realistically never have these resources. Elon Musk might have these resources, but I certainly don’t have them.
- Impact on others – whatever the dream is that we are chasing, we cannot pursue it if it will hurt others or harm our relationships with others, especially those that are close to us. If your dream is to start a massive gold mine in the Amazon jungle that will wreak havoc on the ecosystem by dumping tons of mercury into the Amazon every year, then your dream is dead before it was even born.
- Being authentic – If your dreams are not your dreams, but someone else’s, then you will probably fail halfway before achieving them or you would be miserable after you made them a reality because it was not an authentic dream in the first place. Becoming a doctor, because my dad was one and said I needed to become one, is a classic mistake and example of this.
“Our time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs
If we don’t consider these factors, then we might just end up with a lot of disappointment as a result of not making a dream a reality, which is something that we obviously would like to avoid as our time is limited. At some point in my career, I worked with someone that told me: “Most people dream, but only a small group of people wake up and make their dreams a reality.” You and I cannot afford to be part of the larger group of people that never make their dreams a reality – at work, at home, or in any other aspect of our lives. We are living in challenging times, but a virus from the East should not deter us from living life on our terms or from living the life that we dream of…
“One life to live, live it well.” – Brian Wegerle.
Hekkie van der Westhuizen, PhD.
“If you are interested in the topic of Self-Leadership, please look out for my exciting new Self-Leadership book, launching in August 2021”