Don’t Tell People to Follow Their Dreams… Please

Let me start off by saying that I had heard that phrase a dozen times before I became a developer. I watched the Ted Talks, read blogs about people who turned their whole life around. And I was, like most people amazed and impressed.

The part I didn’t see then, and the part that I want to tell people about is the down side of “following your dreams”, it’s a fuck ton of work. I don’t mean it is hard and you have to muscle through. That is any major life change. I mean it is work on a herculean scale. The process of learning any new skill is hard on it’s own, but when you realize that your life is not a disconnected little room that you can change at will you start to see why it is so much work. First, think about all the people who depend on you, your paycheck, your available time, your current skill set. Now realize that when you change jobs, career, life path, etc., you are forcing that change on them as well. The process of following your dreams is inherently a selfish endeavor. It requires you to turn a blind eye to the needs of others. Next, understand that for every person you see who is placed on a pedestal, someone else is in a gutter. Change is hard and not everyone can make it happen. You see the guy who was once a roofer who now is a CEO. That guy is cool right? No, that guy is determined, that guy is disciplined, that guy sacrificed the well-being of his family in the short-run to provide better in the long run, that guy feels regret at the moments he missed with his family in order to give them a better life down the road.

Now, I have painted a pretty grim picture right? Here is the sunny side, it is worth it…. every damn hour you spend in the coffee shop instead of watching Scooby-Doo with a two year old. Every moment you have missed holding your child while you were holding another code book, or reading another blog. They are all worth it. Sounds selfish right? It’s not, your family will prosper from your pain. You’re kids will learn to be disciplined as well, to forgo the momentary pleasures in favor of a long term happiness and contentment. So to circle back around to the title, DO NOT tell people to follow their dreams, following is a passive action. Win your dreams, Pursue your dreams with conviction… Fight for them but never follow them. Because the work of achieving them is not a passive action. It is hours of suffering and labor, strife and sacrifice. It is the essence of suffering for the greater good..