Dreams are a Waste of Time!
So today, while getting sucked into the Book of Faces (Facebook), I came across this article. In short, its a post about a 46 year old man who has suddenly realized that he is middle aged, and has a life full of regrets, and unfulfilled dreams. So I thought I’d write a little about dreams, ambition and chasing them.
I am an only child and was brought up with the TV being one of my best friends. Some would argue that this may not be the best way to raise children. For me though, it was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. One of my favorite types of shows were those Hollywood success stories. Like those E! True Hollywood Stories. The stars in those stories always started out as ordinary joes and overcame all sorts of hurdles before finally achieving everything they set out for – fame and fortune. These stories stirred something in young impressionable me. They made me believe that even I could achieve anything I set out to do! So at that young age, I made myself a promise – that I would be fearless in chasing my dreams and ambitions. I have tried to hold on to this fearlessness as I have grown older, but I have also learnt a thing or two about chasing dreams and ambition.
1. Don’t have a dream. Have ambition.
There is a lot of power in words. Dreams a floaty, flakey things that live in your head. Ambition is something you work and strive for. Personally, I have no dreams. Just ambitions and goals that I am striving towards. And I have sacrificed to achieve them. When I was in London in my 20s, I sacrificed financial security and stability while gaining work experience (internship)as a radio producer. I was alone in England, my only support network being my friend Adeline whom I had dragged to London with me from Malaysia. I remember once totally breaking down in front of her because it was hard! But I stuck with it. I worked 3 jobs, doing everything from part time promotional work, catering and sliver-service. Anything and everything I had to do to make ends meet on top of my work experience hours at the radio station. These hours weren’t paid and sometimes they began at 6am which meant being up at at stupid o’clock but I wanted it bad enough, so I did what was needed and finally, I did end up a radio producer at that station in London. This kick started my career in radio.
2. It’s ok for your ambitions to change, just remember to stay true to yourself.
We often hear about actors or singers who have always wanted to be exactly that – an actor or a singer. You hear stories of how they used to imagine that they were singing in front of a large audience while in front of a mirror using a hair brush. That their focus never waiver and eventually, they got to live out their dream.
Determination is definately the key to success but don’t be afraid if your passion changes. As people, we grow and change. So it’s natural for our ambitions to change as well. Personally, I had always envisioned myself a film maker for as long as I can remember. I went to college and studied it and even travelled to London with the hopes of getting into film and TV production. As fate would have it though, I fell into radio… and loved it! I always thought myself as more of a behind-the-scenes type person. So when I started presenting my own radio show, there was a sense of guilt. I felt that I was betraying myself by allowing something else other than film making take that place inside myself reserved for my greatest passion. It took a while for me to reconcile that guilt. But once I realized that it was ok for ambitions and passions to change, I really started to thrive. Now bear in mind, this is not to say that it’s ok to flip-flop between ambitions. This will get you nowhere. There is a difference between having your ambitions change and just being fickle.
3. Be focused, but don’t get tunnel vision.
We often have an idea of what the plan to success looks like. And we have loads of memes like this one to remind us that it’s never that easy.
There is something else to remember though. Being focused is a good thing and essential to achieving one’s ambition but we must be careful not to get tunnel vision. Often, the road to success is long but along the way, we are also offered seemingly irrelevant opportunities. Sometimes, these are opportunities that should be passed over for the bigger picture, but sometimes, there is a reason these unexpected opportunities arise. For example, early on in my career, as I have mentioned, I wanted to become a film maker and was doing everything I could to reach this goal. I was an Assistant Director at a prominent production house in Kuala Lumpur when the opportunity to be a part time radio host came up. At the time, I had no interest in being on the radio, but it was an opportunity that didn’t hurt my work as an Assistant Director. So I took it! Lo and behold…. 15 years later, radio is in my blood!
Although in my case, the side opportunity lead to a whole new career and passion, sometimes these little chance opportunities can also lead you closer to your goals. For example, if you are in college, your grades are important and so is studying. Money is also tight. But that shouldn’t mean that you should skip every social event that comes up. Most business and opportunities are the result of who you know as much as what you know. You never know who you will be meeting or how they can help you reach your goals. So, yes, stay focused on the end result, but it never hurts to stop and smell the roses once in a while.