Many of us are running a race we don’t even understand. We’re chasing after dreams created for us by society. We want the billion-dollar paycheck. We want the fame. Everyone is running around trying to be the star player and basking in the glory that comes with being at the top.
Somehow, the American Dream has evolved from the house in the suburbs with the white picket fence, two kids and the dog, to making a billion dollars, becoming famous, and twerking effortlessly.
Most of us go to college for degrees we’ll never even apply to that specific field of work. We’ll stay in jobs that are unfulfilling to pay our way. We’ll be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Vine a disproportionate amount of time. We’ll even use Hootsuite, Buffer, Klout or some other social media tool to manage our online presence. I’m not suggesting that social media is evil; in fact, it’s actually a good way of connecting with people.
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The unfortunate side effect is people tend to inadvertently and subconsciously compare their lives to others. While comparisons can be an excellent motivator to push you forward to achieving success, it can also influence your thoughts negatively. Think “Inception.” You might be chasing someone else’s dream.
Ask yourself what it means to be successful. In fact, ask yourself what you want. Do you want to be rich? Probably. Do you want to be famous? Maybe. Do you want to be your own boss? Yes, but do you know what that means? None of these pursuits are wrong. It is not wrong to want to be wealthy, or well known, or have the freedom to control your own paycheck. But how many of these goals were created as a byproduct of society?
We hear about the success stories on the news. We are exposed to our friends’ promotions, super awesome lives and life experiences through social media. And suddenly, what we have doesn’t seem so fulfilling. When you were a child and someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, was your answer rich, famous, or a boss? Somewhere along the way, we lost sight of what we wanted to do and ended up doing what everyone else was doing.
Think about your answer. Is it enough to be a billionaire or a viral video sensation? Often times, the money and fame are byproducts of doing what you love. We look up to sports superstars, celebrities and industry leaders because they made it. They symbolize the small percentage of people who were lucky enough to have reached their dreams. However, many of them are broken.
A lot of people don’t realize that while money is necessary, it is insufficient for happiness. Just like with fame, it is better to have a sense of support than to be known within a community that doesn’t support you, or care about you.
When chasing dreams, remember what you are chasing and what you are leaving behind. You might fly too close to the sun and get burnt. In the pursuit of happiness, many forget to savor the pursuit and are disappointed with the outcome when they finally get to wherever they’re going.
Fame and money won’t make you happy. Don’t get me wrong, they are both enormous assets and change lives in wonderful ways, but they won’t be enough in the pursuit of happiness. Unless you’re giving it away for a better cause, no one cares how much money you have in the bank. People care about your life experiences, your humility, and your contribution to their lives.
At the end of the day, people care about the person behind the money and status. When you take away the money and the fame, would you still be someone you would want to spend time with?
I don’t have a blueprint to tell you what will make you successful or happy or fulfilled. Success is defined in individual terms but is often used to describe the rich and famous. It might be time to define your own success. Stop chasing someone else’s dream because, chances are, you won’t be happy when you finally reach it.
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