The Case for Letting Some Dreams Die

(Caveat: Unless you don't actually want to work towards them.)
Photo by William Bayreuther.

“It doesn’t matter how much you want. What really matters is how much you want it. The extent and complexity of the problem does not matter as much as does the willingness to solve it.”
– Ralph Marston (via Swiss Miss)

This is a huge lesson I have learned over and over again in my life: that perhaps the thing I should measure when I consider my goals is not how much I want the payoff at the end, but how much I am willing to actually put in the work to get it. (Felicia Day says the same thing, but a little less fancily.)

Case in point: I thought I wanted to be an actor and a singer for most of my life. All through high school and university, that is what I focused on. Well, focused is a strong word. I wanted to be an actor/singer/dancer/writer/photographer/fashion designer/model/interior designer/psychologist. So there was a lot going on there. But acting and singing were at the top of the pile.

So why am I not one of those things now? Because if becoming a professional actor and singer is a problem, I was never all that willing to do the work to solve it.

Sure, I took classes, auditioned for things, and submitted to agents, but it was all only partially-hearted. Every once in a while I would commit that THIS year I was going to finally really go for it. Then I would do one or two things and my efforts would peter right out.

Really, I was more into thinking about how I might solve the problem and dreaming about what life would be like once it was solved, than actually doing the work and making the sacrifices to get there.

You know what's liberating? Finally letting go of a dream that you thought was the most important thing for you but that you weren't actually interested in working towards in the first place. Suddenly, a heavy load of pressure is lifted and you get to focus your energy on things that you may actually want to work towards.

Sometimes, letting a dream die is the best gift you can give yourself.


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