By Jeff Bullas
Chase your dreams.
Make it happen.
Go hard or go home.
Persist till you win.
Hang in there.
I am sure you have heard these repeated until they lose their mojo in the banal noise.
In the repetition.
These phrases and many of their cliched cousins we hear all the time.
But do they work?
The answer and some life reflection have led me to an ambiguous “yes” and an occasional “no”.
My first dream?
Ordinary in the extreme.
I chose to start an accounting degree.
And within weeks of starting I knew it was wrong.
Attention to detail felt like sand in my eyes.
But true to my ingrained training.
I persisted to complete the first year.
But my heart was beating to a different tune.
The small and increasing strident internal chatter rose.
So I hung in there.
For a while.
Until I made a decision.
This time it was a teaching degree.
Learnt the theory.
But then came the reality.
And it all seemed fine until I walked into my first classroom for “Prac teaching”, where the new teacher is thrown to the wolves.
Teenagers occupied these spaces with raging hormones, low thresholds of self control and scant respect for learning.
It was like herding cats.
Riot control training was more needed than the psychology 101 subject that I had completed a few weeks earlier.
I knew that it wasn’t for me but the human drive for completion and honoring my parents who had paid the college fees locked me in.
So persistence it still was.
It took me 5 years to escape that career until the noise and pain of forcing myself to work at something I hated was overwhelming.
But along the way I tried a side hustle.
Selling as a hired gun of a salesman at night.
I was paid a success fee for every sale.
The results were encouraging.
And I liked the motivation of being rewarded for effort.
So I decided to hear my heart.
Listened to its quiet voice.
Commenced an experiment.
It was a summer holiday trial where I tried 3 types of selling before handing in the resignation letter.
I cut the safety cord and plunged into the wild.
Selling technology it was.
It was the start of the personal computer revolution and Steve and Bill were duking it out.
It was exciting and the energy of the industry was like the Wild West.
An emerging exciting void with velocity.
Full of opportunity and innovation that kept me intrigued.
And that future keeps beckoning.
So what has life revealed?
Yes, follow your dreams.
But persistence is useless if you are chasing a dream that doesn’t suit your abilities or inclinations. These are red lights.
You may need to stop and turn around.
Forcing triangular pegs into round holes leads to a lot of pain and dissonance.
And this is the time to stop listening to your parents, families, and friends and leap into your own stream and enjoy the flow.
Yes, chase your dreams.
If they are yours and an intersecting match of innate ability, experience and and congruent with your life’s passionate purpose.
But say no, if it is just to comply with society’s dreams for you.
Sometimes telling the difference requires wisdom and stillness to discern whether it is folly.
Is this really what you are meant to be doing on this planet?
Is it your mission?
Or someone else’s.
And they don’t teach you that at school.
Make it happen.
But say no if there are stoplights and your heart is displaying a squirming screaming “no” and the angels are not singing in harmony.
Go hard or go home.
Yes, if you have a green light. If it is a shade of orange then you may be about to find you are about to be T-boned by oncoming traffic.
That’s a no.
Hanging in there is a fine line between pleasure and pain.
Forcing an answer.
It mostly never works.
Whenever I pushed against a closing or shut door the end result was inevitable.
Whenever I leapt into those streams and swam with the current then the struggle melted.
Success wasn’t hard.
Life felt natural.
But the biggest challenge?
The answer doesn’t scream and shout at you.
It is a whisper.
And sometimes you will need to stop, listen in the stillness for the inspiration and insights to be revealed.
Then hit go.
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