Follow Your Dreams?
Don’t do it. It will hurt you. It’s not like you think. There’s no magic that makes dreams come true.
You don’t want to hear that. You’re psyched up, ready to roar. I get that. I did the follow-your-dreams thing several times — upping the ante each time until the crash and burn (which happened every time, and will happen to you, too) was so big that I finally got… not the dream but the personal transformation it required.
I wasn’t in it for the transformation. I was in it for the dream. The dream didn’t happen. The transformation did.
Dreams require personal transformation. You might get the dream, you might not, but if you stay with it long enough, you will get the transformation. Most people don’t stay with it long enough. If they do, the transformation is sure. The dream? Not so much.
The reason you’re not living your dream already is that you’re not qualified for it. You’re not the kind of person living the kind of life and doing the kinds of things that line up with your dream. Your life is not structured around living your dream — if it were, you’d be living your dream already. Your life is structured around not living your dream. Therefore you’re not. Simple math.
It’s not just that you don’t know the right stuff or the right people, or that you don’t have experience doing the thing you dream about. All that is true — you don’t — but that’s not the point. The point is that your dream is a dream — something far away from what you are and do and have right now. The gap between you and your dream is wide and deep and long and high. There’s no getting around, under, through, or over it… not in your current form.
What your dream needs is to not be a dream at all — instead, it needs to be just the next step — the next logical, obvious thing for you to do, so that it’s not a dream at all, just the next thing. What you need to make your dreams come true is to get to that point. And to get to that point requires a complete remake of you and the circumstances of your life. Without that, there’s no getting there from here. That’s where personal transformation comes in.
Transformation is the hardest, most ruinous thing you will ever do. Transformation is a complete tear down followed by a complete rebuild with the salvageable parts (not many) plus a bunch of new ones, most of which you won’t like. It starts with the obvious — what and who you are, what you do and what you think, the company you keep, where you live and how — the usual stuff. All that has to go. You need a complete replacement of all things. That will feel hard, and you’ll be surprised and amazed, disillusioned and despairing just to get that far, but once you’ve gotten through that, transformation will be just getting warmed up.
You have no idea much it’s going to cost or how hard it’s going to be. You can try to imagine, but you have no idea. All those adjustments take time. And money. And hardship. And more — more than you think you’ve got to give. And then some more. And then a whole lot more.
There are no shortcuts. There is no magic. You think there’s going to be magic because your brain fills up with feel-good hormones when you feel inspired by your dream. Just thinking about your dream makes you feel good — like it could happen, yes to you! Don’t be fooled. That feel-good stuff is a warning signal. Think about it: you can feel what it will be like to live your dream without doing anything toward making your dream happen. Doesn’t that make you nervous? It should. It should make you wonder what you’re missing. You’re not there yet, you’re not anywhere close, and yet it feels like you are.
That makes the self-helpers jump for joy. They’ll say, “Just look at that! Your brain can’t tell the difference between wanting something and actually having it! Isn’t that cool?! That means your brain will act like you’ve already got it, and — shazam!! — you actually will!”
Anybody who would tell you that — and there’s a whole industry full of them — is not your friend. They know just enough brain science to be dangerous.
Just thinking about your dream makes you feel good — is that a problem?
Yes it’s a problem. It’s why everybody gives up on their dreams — they’re too hard, they cost too much, and all that feel-good stuff doesn’t help at all. By the time you’re ready to actually do your dream, you’re so beat up and worn out from not being who you were when you felt good about it that you can’t believe it was you back then, wanting what you wanted and thinking you knew what it would be like when you got it, and now look at you. The reason you’ll feel that way is because you actually won’t be who you were. You will have gotten a whole psychic/biologic makeover. You will have been transformed.
Welcome to the caterpillar-becomes-a-butterfly story, in real time. Trust me — the part about being reduced to goo inside the cocoon is… well, let’s just say I could live without it.
If you’re lucky — and it will take a lot of luck — and if you do the right stuff and learn the right things and get to know the right people and learn from them and generally get yourself to the point where of course you are the kind of person who can do the thing you want — I mean, it’s right there, the next logical thing for you to do — then you might have a chance. Might. Maybe. Not guaranteed.
But if you’re really lucky, you might be okay with that.
I know all this because I’m living the dream. And trust me — if I had known this was the dream, and what it would cost to get here….
Well, no way.
All I’m sayin’.
For awhile I gave seminars on this. Then I realized people didn’t believe me. They didn’t believe I meant it when I told them, “ you will suffer. “ After awhile, I quit doing the seminars. It was unethical, carrying on with something I knew people wouldn’t believe, and flooding them with disclaimers and warnings wasn’t enough to make it so.
You’re waiting for me to say, “But it was all worth it.”
I won’t, because it wasn’t.
You’re waiting for me to say, “But I have no regrets.”
I won’t, because I do.
I will say I had a lot of crapola that needed to get exposed and taken care of. And I will say that once the transformation process really got rolling, I got in touch with just how little I have control over. I’m grateful for both those lessons — and some others, too. It would have been nice to learn them without all the trouble, but that never would have happened. The trouble and the learning were inseparable.
For more about how I made every mistake in the book plus a few others, check here. For a Jungian look at transformation, check here. Both links take you to free downloads — free in the same way that a crummy old couch by the dumpster with a sign on it that says “take it” is free. They’re not bait and switch. Honest. I’m out of the seminar business, remember?
Originally published at http://theneweconomyandthefutureofwork.com on June 24, 2021.