Americans seem to place great value on dreams and those who achieve their own. This is even written into the preamble of our Constitution: “the pursuit of happiness” is one of our unalienable rights as citizens.
Teachers, parents, role models and even television shows and books insist that by simply following their dreams one can achieve them. That’s a difficult guarantee to live up to, especially given that many 2016 grads will be thousands of dollars in debt upon receiving their diploma.
A handful of students enter college with a particular goal in mind that played a role in their choice of major or school. Some have possessed a clear idea of what they want from life since they were small children; others have discovered what they’d like to pursue more recently.
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Still others, perhaps the majority of people, don’t have a particular lofty ambition beyond making a living and enjoying life, and that’s just as worthy as any other desire.
Some individuals are lucky in that they’ve chosen a path that, if not lucrative, is stable and in-demand—think nursing, teaching or engineering.
Others struggle in fields that for whatever reason are more difficult to break into: often (but not always!) fields such as music or art or literature. No career and no goal is better or worse than any other, but they’re all different.
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The truth is that pursuing a dream can be expensive. You don’t necessarily have to choose between making rent and making your dream come true, though.
As with any worthwhile endeavor, you’ll have to make sacrifices.
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You may have to sacrifice time to work that isn’t as fulfilling as you would hope or that isn’t exactly what you want to be doing, but when the going gets tough, keep your end goal in mind!
Have a visual reminder of what you want somewhere you’ll see it and reflect upon it every day. That could be something as simple as an alarm on your phone reminding you to spend a little time writing or drawing or practicing. It could even be as involved as a vision board of your own design.
Just like a recurring dream you’ve had every night for years might suddenly change, your daytime aspirations may alter as you grow and mature.
You may even find that the dream you had as a child or teenager shifts during college. Instead of aspiring to be a famous Hollywood actor stepping out on the red carpet, you might become more familiar with the world of theater and choose to focus your time and energy on taking the stage.
Your dream might not even morph a little bit, but transform completely. Your original goals might become distant memories if you decide to dedicate your time to raising a family or taking care of your parents or working at a job that is more fulfilling than you imagined it would be—that’s okay, too!
Dreams take infinite forms and though they may seem impossible to achieve and despite the fact that they will likely change over time, you don’t have to give them up just to make a living. Keep practicing and you certainly won’t regret it!