Don’t Follow Your Dreams (Well, Some of Them)

You can do anything you set your mind to.

It always seems impossible until it’s done.

Obsessed is a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated.

[Insert motivational quotes here.]

Do you like motivational quotes? I don’t. Ya know those one-liners that are thrown around with the hopes of making you see sunshine in a hurricane? They’re often flying through the air during cheesy bootcamp workouts, motivational seminars, or between friends who alternate being sad. They make me think of this:

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In a balanced world, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with some pizzaz or motivation, but we should stress balance. We should find balance between the hooplah and cheers, and setting up a system that’s fine-tuned for success from the beginning.

It’s great to set a plan in action to follow your dreams, but the idea of ‘following your dreams’ should always be tempered with the wisdom of what is realistic. Let’s take juggling tacos for example:

I really struggle to believe that many folks will be successful here, and that’s not a challenge to find out. That’s a statement approaching near certainty that you can’t juggle tacos without them spilling.

Sure, after reading about Chaos Theory for the first time, you might take it upon yourself to find out if this is truly possible. I wish you luck.

If there’s a world where the “succeed at all costs attitude” tends to flourish, it’s in the land of fitness. Fitness is where people endlessly argue about calories or clean eating, lifting heavy or light, power or grace. Fitness has a charm that seems to empower people to strive for their goals with absolutely counterproductive behaviors, as long as they ‘buy in’ and focus on the habits.

Proceed as if success is inevitable. (Maybe.)

Success may be waiting for you, but only if you’re wise enough to balance what has worked with others and that which you can make work for you. It’s all about balancing perceptions with reality. In exercise science, following best practices and trends is important, but in psychology, it’s balancing what we are emotionally tied to—what we may think is going to happen, and what will actually happen.

When perceptions and reality are unbalanced, we see folks with hypertrophy goals following calorie restricted diets, folks with strength goals avoiding heavy lifting, folks with fat loss goals eating whatever they want because it’s Paleo. When your friend who runs decides to take up spinning to get stronger, or your friend who lifts adds a set of 20 squats because the effort counts as cardio, they’re missing out on that balance.

To clear or refine the lens with which you look at goal-driven behavior is essential if you want to follow and be successful with your dreams. Too often we see processed-focused folks miss their results because they’re caught up in the minutia. Too often we see results-driven folks toil with work that fails to be fulfilling because they weren’t set up for success from the first place. Too often we follow our dreams before we pause to consult our map and compass. That is when we fail.

If you’re hell-bent on following a program or plan that is a barrier to your success, that’s your prerogative. That being said, most of us would prefer to adopt a new system that’s better supportive of our goals, or to modify our goals for a system that feels more appropriate.

Are you attached to the process or the outcome? (TWEET THAT SHIT!) Reflecting on and understanding this can bring awareness to what’s holding you back from achieving success, and that wisdom can make the process more sensible, sustainable, and successful. Don’t follow your dreams. Make them follow you.


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