I’m a guy who advocates thinking big and having intimidating dreams. However, if you get too fixated at your dreams and goals, you might be hurting yourself.
Its common among entrepreneurs to have an obsession towards dreams and goals. If the obsession is not balanced, it might hurt your chances of achieving your dreams. It is important to introspect because you might be over-obsessed without realizing it.
When you develop an unhealthy obsession towards your goals, you become narrow minded. You choose a path and get fixated on it. You might still be making progress, but you might be in the wrong path, or a path you might not enjoy that much.
We don’t have a direct control over how our life unfolds but we do have some indirect control. It’s like steering a ship. You might be swayed by the winds and might not always be able to stick to a specific route, but you can always turn the rudder to get back on track.
If you worry too much about the path to take to reach your goal, there is a high chance that you choose the most obvious path that leads straight to the goal. This “obvious” path is usually based on your life experience and what you have at this point in time. But your life experience is limited.
If you make a plan to go from A to B, there is a 0% chance that things would unfold exactly the way you expect them to be. You can only find out with little bit of trial and error. You need to let yourself get swayed by the wind of opportunities that is presented to you. (In fact, if things always unfold as you predict, there would be no fun in life. Topic for another day).
When you are too fixated on your goal, you will try to plough through this path.
And you might be closing other doors and pathways that can lead to the same goal. And the other pathways could be shorter, more enjoyable, or the right path for you, based on your life experience and what you have.
Many Roads to the Same Destination
There are too many roads to the same goal and sometimes you need to let your intuition do the work. If some opportunity comes up in your life and if you are going to enjoy doing it, say Yes.
You don’t necessarily need to know how it would take you to your goals in the long term. If you feel right about going in a certain path, go for it. You will be able to connect the dots backwards.
To communicate better what I am trying to say, let me give you a few examples from my personal life. I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur and run my own startup. I’ve always wanted to be in a profitable market and work with an amazing team. I’ve always wanted to build a personal brand and be known as an expert in one thing. Those things are my reality now.
If I was too fixated on this goal, I wouldn’t have taken up certain opportunities that has led me here to this point. I had no idea on how the dots would connect. But I took up some opportunities anyway.
For example, when I joined my first job in Bangalore, it didn’t look like that job was going to help me get to my eventual dreams. I couldn’t come up with any logic for it. However, the things I learned in the job, the connections I made led me to another job that helped me get where I am here.
The second job was a digital marketing manager at a well known startup, and it helped me in my career. And the second job might have never happened without the first job, which I was not too sure about, but took up anyway.
Dreams Take Time. Don’t Rush
Sometimes dreams take time to achieve and its a good thing. If dreams manifest overnight, you cannot undo certain decisions. If I dream of living in London for the rest of my life, and if I achieve that dream next month, I might have done certain things that are irreversible.
What if my dream was to be a nomad and travel the world? Buying a home in London would be a sunken investment. I might not be able to come out of that commitment easily. And my family wouldn’t be ok changing the decision overnight.
When dreams take time to achieve, it gives you time to refine your dream. You get plenty of opportunities to find out what you really want for the future.
And since big dreams are going to take some time anyway, why do you want to rush through it?
When you are too fixated on a dream or a goal, and if you try to accelerate yourself to reach that, you will crash.
When there are a 100 different roads to achieve the same dream, you will be fixated on one, based on what you know, and who knows, the road you think is the only road… might not even lead to your dream. And when it doesn’t you will be devastated.
When you get opportunities in life that might seem a little bit tangential to your ideal path to your dream, don’t say no to it. Listen to your instincts. Does your heart say yes? Will you enjoying doing it? If yes, go for it. It will connect to your dream in strange ways.
I would like to give you another example from my work life before ending this chapter. Our goal in our company PixelTrack was to build a Digital Marketing Education startup. When we got an invitation from Mercedes-Benz to train their marketing and sales professionals on Digital Marketing, it was tempting to say No.
Spending time, energy and money on doing an offline workshop would not help us grow our online business. But we said yes to the opportunity anyway. The dreams of an education startup can wait a bit. We aren’t in a rush.
After doing the training for the team for the past six months, we learned so much about how sales and marketing works in a very big corporation like Mercedes-Benz.
This new information has helped us update our courses for a new persona – a corporate marketer. Until now, most of our training was focused on students and professionals wanting to up-skill themselves in digital marketing to get a digital marketing job.
The offline training opportunity gave us insights into the challenges marketers face inside big corporations. This has opened up a new segment of B2B customers for us. And now it is contributing back to the growth of the education startup. The dots are connecting backwards already.
Create Your Own Path
I have learned that saying Yes to opportunities when it feels right, can actually accelerate your process towards your dreams. That’s the path that is unique to you. That’s the path that others will get inspired to follow.
Your subconscious mind and your intuition is more powerful than you imagine. There is no way to process 1000s of data points consciously when making a decision. Sometimes you have to let your intuition take you forward. Don’t shut yourself to any new opportunities, unless it looks extremely tangential to what you want in life.
Entrepreneurship is a complex game. It’s a survival game. It would often feel like you are in the middle of the forest, blindfolded. There is no way to find the path out of this forest by trying to know the exact path.
There is no map. There is no map because no one has ever gone to a place where you want to go. The only way for you to find out the path is to be open to all the possible paths.
Enjoy What You Do
The tangential opportunities might not only take you to your goal, but it could be a shorter and a more enjoyable route as well. If you do not enjoy what you do, you will not go through the most obvious path anyway – even if that path leads to the goal.
Think of a short 10 km bumpy ride on a bad road to your destination, and another longer but a smooth, scenic route to your destination. Which one would you take?
The longer road of course. If you try to go in the short road, you might reach your goal faster than you think, but you wouldn’t have enjoyed the ride. And you wouldn’t have another big goal in your life. Who wants to have a tough ride anyway.
Work hard because you want to, not because you have to.
Enjoy the process of achieving your dreams. Because in the pursuit of happiness, you will eventually discover that the happiness is in the pursuit.