The Number One Killer of Dreams

Photo via Flickr

Photo via Flickr

We all start out with dreams. Big ones and small ones. Maybe you wanted to become an astronaut. Maybe you wanted to cure cancer. Maybe you just wanted to make a nice dinner.

Those were my dreams, and growing up, if you asked me what I wanted to be I would rattle off the names of all of the professions: scientist, chemist, astronaut, dirt bike racer, chef, and a computer programmer (in that order).

And if you had met me early on in college, I would have told you that my goal was to cure cancer.

We all start out with dreams. But then they start to fade. Reality sets in, and the truth comes out that our dreams are just that: dreams.

But do you know what the biggest killer of dreams is? The number one thing that keeps people from achieving greatness? It’s not a lack of skill; skills can be learned. It’s not a lack of money; if you work smart enough, you’ll find someone wealthy enough to bankroll your idea. A lack of confidence is probably the second biggest killer, but still there is something even worse.

It’s becoming comfortable. The day you become comfortable is the day you stop trying.

What do I mean by comfortable? Comfortable is when you achieved some but not all of your goals.

Comfortable is when you wanted to run your own company, and you’ve made it high enough in the corporate world to run your own division. You’re paid well, you have a relatively interesting job, and you have some creative control over your destiny.

Comfortable is when you’ve dreamed of that life of travel, and you’ve become a world-renowned chef at a famous restaurant in a big city. You create your own menus, regularly receive accolades, and can take a fancy vacation twice a year.

Comfort is when the trappings of your life no longer seem to be so bad, and are in fact "good enough". That initial passion you had got you into the position you needed to be. But now it’s time to take that leap, to keep pushing, and to take the next step towards making that dream into a reality. But it’s so hard, and you’re so tired, and you’ve done pretty well so far. What's the rush?

Comfort can disguise itself as success. But success is only defined by reaching the goal you set out for yourself. While your achievements may be success in the eyes of some, if it's not what you set out to accomplish, it's probably not success.

Don’t let comfort take away your dreams. You will battle this every step of the way. Each time you succeed, that’s another win to build your momentum. You only have time to rest for a minute.

I’m fighting that feeling of being comfortable right now. I had a plan on how to position my career to set me up for a calculated jump to entrepreneurship. And I’ve achieved that goal. But each step left me more comfortable than the last. And looking forward, the path seems so daunting.

I don’t have a magic bullet that will stop that feeling for good. It will always be there, growing stronger. All that I can say, is to keep visual cues and mementos in view at all times. If you’re constantly reminded of what your goal is, and why you set down on this path to begin with…that’s one more reason to keep going.

- Ryan