"'Follow your dreams.' It's impossible to do without self-knowledge, what takes years. You discover your 'dream' (or sense of purpose) in the very act of walking the path, which is guided by equal parts choice and chance." Maria Popova's response to Tim Ferriss's question regarding the worst advice she ever heard in the book Tools of Titans.
What Are Your Dreams Really Based On
'Follow your dreams.' You've heard this advice probably as often as I did growing up. Certainly, the most common words of inspiration given to a youngster and seen in coffee table books and wall art. What does it really mean and how serious should we consider this advice? Do you know?
As a student of psychology for the last 20 years, I've learned one very important thing: Most people aren't aware of themselves (or the influences on how they think). I fell into this category for a long time, and it's taken much effort to recognize and understand the trends and patterns of me....including my dreams. I'd love to believe that my dreams were an inspirational inner voice that always had my best interest in mind and guided me with a knowledge and understanding beyond my being.
Unfortunately, and fortunately, they most likely were a result of environmental influences, interactions, emotional interpretations, and unconscious cues from my history. At times, my dreams reflected insecurities and fears that plagued my unconscious or a disorientated interpretation of the day’s events. Often, they reflected a film I watched that day or an emotion I recently experienced. While I recognized the symbolism of those dreams, I also understand how easily misleading they can be.
The Interpretation of Your Dreams
You may not be any different. Have you observed your physical, mental, and emotional self? Have you ever observed the trends and patterns of you? Have you identified the underlying influences on your behavior (i.e., fears and insecurities)? Have you ever examined the underlying influences on your dreams? If you're like most people, you will say "No." Would you follow any other prompt or cue like a dream with so many unanswered questions?
Don't forget that at times your dreams are also completely ridiculous and nonsensical. You may disregard those dreams, but it doesn't mean that you should follow your dream just because it possesses a sensible, relatable narrative that seems like the truth about your path. As Maria points out, we learn about our true selves and what's best for us by walking the path...interacting with people and the world. If you don't know what you want to do next, be curious instead of following your dreams initially. Find invigoration and direction through the collision of your being and experiences in different environments with different people and see how itself manifests later. Maybe at some point, you can consider the prompt of your dreams or your gut instinct. Be sure to truly understand yourself first, though.
You're a Leader Not a Follower
Also consider that the simple act of following infers that you are not leading. It is a serious unconscious nudge to wait for a sign to help you make lifelong personal and professional decisions without sound evidence why. Do you really want to only follow something that can be interpreted a million different ways? Let's be honest. Most of our interpretations aren't 100% accurate and often are self-serving depending on the influences (which isn’t always a bad thing when it comes to survival but should be recognized). Why not follow the mantra ‘Create the life you want’?
While I always love words of inspiration, you may want to reconsider how sound the advice might be. No path is as easy as following your dreams.
Thefinancialdiet .com–Should you really follow your dreams?