Having big dreams and goals is a wonderful thing. We all aspire to achieve something. These questions will help you decide how and why to chase your dream goal – and if it’s right for you.
Striving for something can give you a sense of purpose, drive you to succeed, and ultimately propel you forward in your career. But your aspirations also need to be realistic – some things might be perfectly fine to dream about, but are ultimately not possible or practical in real life.
It might also be possible to pursue some of your goals, but not all of them. We all have limited time in the day and a finite amount of energy, so sometimes we need to choose what to aspire to and what to leave alone.
But how do you know which aspirations you should chase?
7 questions to ask yourself when deciding if your dream goal really IS a dream goal
First and most importantly: why?
Interrogate why you want to pursue a particular goal, dream or aspiration. There are no right and wrong answers here. Being clear on your reasoning will help you see if it’s the right path for you.
If your “why” is strong enough and resonates deeply enough with you, you’ll move heaven and earth to achieve that goal. If your “why” is weak or poorly defined, you’ll probably find it a real struggle to keep going when you hit challenges.
If you find that your reasoning is mainly external ( so it’s what other people expect of you rather than what you actually want) then you might want to reconsider. Aspiring to things to please others rarely works out well in the long run.
Is there a market for what you want to do?
As many would-be young entrepreneurs have learned, an idea is only as good as the market for it. You might be convinced you’ve come up with the most amazing thing ever, but is it achievable?
If you’re interested in starting a business or launching a product, do extensive market research before you dive in. This will tell you if your idea is viable or not.
If you want to make a career in a certain niche field, are there jobs available? Do people actually get hired to do what you want to do? If so, you would do well to reach out to people who are in those roles for support and advice. Find out how they got there and what the steps were along the way.
What skills or training do you need, and how can you acquire them?
Some professions take more training than others. Are you prepared to spend years working your way up in a company to get that top job you want?
Others require extensive training or degree programmes, which can be extremely expensive and take years. Are you ready to spend that time and money and energy? If yes, great! You’ve found your calling! But if you balk at the process and only want the end result, this is probably not a realistic aspiration for you.
Do you have time?
Unfortunately, passion and ambition may be limitless but time is not. People often say that if you want something badly enough you’ll make time, and that’s true to an extent but it’s also not quite as simple as that.
Do you have enough hours in the day to pursue this particular goal? If you were to make time, how would it look? What else would you need to sacrifice and who else in your life – children, partner, family, dependents – would you need to take into consideration as you make those decisions?
Can you be patient if it takes time to get there?
Dreams don’t come true overnight.
I’ve known I wanted to be a professional writer someday since I was fourteen years old. I recently turned thirty and am just now finally making the leap into working for myself full time as a writer. For all those years, I’ve practiced and looked for opportunities and honed my craft and built my portfolio.
Of course, many people reach their dream much quicker than this. For some people, it takes longer. If it takes months or years to achieve your goal, are you prepared to be patient and keep putting the work in and chipping away at it?
Does this dream suit the kind of person you are?
Realistically assessing your own strengths and weaknesses is a vital skill in life and work. Does this dream suit you, your skillset, and your personality?
Skills can be taught and learned, but natural talents and aptitudes are very real and you shouldn’t ignore yours. Chasing something that isn’t a good fit for you will likely result in stress and unhappiness (and if you do achieve it, you probably won’t like it very much!)
How will it fit around the rest of your life?
We all have other things going on in our lives, and sometimes they’re incompatible with following a particular path (either now or ever.)
Realistically look at what other priorities you have in your life and how they would need to change in order to achieve your aspiration. Is the trade-off worth it? Is it possible and sustainable? Consider your physical and mental health as you make this decision. (You might think you can survive on three hours’ sleep a night if you want something badly enough. You can’t.)
Remember: you’re not on a deadline!
With very few exceptions, most career dreams do not come with built-in deadlines. You don’t have to achieve everything before you’re twenty or thirty or fifty! So give yourself a break and chase your dreams at your own pace.
You’re doing fine.