You probably dream of the day when you can quit your job. Perhaps you’ve fantasized about walking out of your place of work, never to return. I know I did — my intense desire to quit my job and launch my own business served as a huge incentive for me when I was getting started. So why not chase your dreams?
Over the past several months I have noticed that many would-be LWBers are crippling their chances of achieving that ultimate goal. Even worse, a lot of the “quit your job” blogs out there promote the very fantasy that ruins so many people’s chances of making it to the promised land.
In this post I want to explore the widespread fallacy that underpins so many people’s efforts to quit their jobs and make money online, then offer up an alternative that can work.
Why You Shouldn’t Chase Your Dreams
Dreams are hard to come by. They appear in our sleep as they see fit and dissipate just as readily. We have no real control over them.
That’s a dream in a literal sense, but they share many similarities with the type of dreams that we all consciously have — dreams of aspiration and achievement. Perhaps the most important similarity is that your conscious dreams are just as impossible to “achieve” as their subconscious counterparts. By this I mean that one doesn’t simply fulfil their dream in one fell swoop — on the contrary, dreams are in fact realized by the culmination of many actions.
Think about it. Can you think of one dream (of yours or anyone’s) that has been fulfilled overnight? When an athlete breaks a world record or wins a gold medal, was that an overnight achievement or the result of years of dedication and hard work? One could perhaps point to lottery winners as an exception, but I for one do not intend to rely upon luck as the harbinger of dream fulfilment.
So the problem that many of us face is that we are chasing dreams — goals that are impossible simply to “jump to”. And ultimately we give up because the dream just seems so far away; so intangible. Like a state of living that we were simply not “destined” to experience. The issue is in fact quite simple — if your goal is simply to chase your dreams, you will almost certainly fail. How could you not? By reaching for the stars you are setting yourself up for a fall.
Embrace the Process
Continuing with the space analogy, consider this — if you’re going to shoot for the stars, you best learn how to build a spaceship first. You’re going to need a space program for that too. What I’m saying is this — don’t chase your dreams; build towards them (tweet this).
Take my journey so far as an example of how this can work. Back in May 2011 my dream was to quit my job. It seemed all but impossible — in fact, until I handed quit my job in December of that year, I had a persistent little voice in the back of my head telling me that it simply wasn’t possible. But instead of being intimidated by the concept of quitting your job (because let’s face it — it is an intimidating proposition), I instead started doing things that would get me closer to my dream. I was building my space program, not trying to build a rocket.
Quitting my job was a big step, but it certainly wasn’t the end of my aspirations. Next I needed to establish a viable business that could support my outgoings. In January 2012, my first month of fulltime self-employment, I made less than $1,000. My outgoings were more like $4,000 so I had a big gap to fill. But I didn’t shoot for the $4k — instead I concentrated on the short term steps I could take to increase my income. My earnings fluctuated over the following months — I took steps forward and steps back — but my earnings have stayed consistently above $4,000 per month since July 2012. I couldn’t have achieved that in February, but I knew that if I built towards it I had a good chance.
Freelance writing enabled me to quit my job and build a viable business. Now it offers me opportunities (both directly and indirectly) to increase my income further and diversify. My achievements in freelance writing have far outweighed my expectations. Consistent application got me here, even though the current outcome would have seemed like a pipe dream just a couple of years ago. I didn’t chase my dreams — I simply applied myself in what I felt were the right areas and built towards them.
Climbing the Mountain
I recently finished reading the autobiography of Sir Ranulph Fiennes — one of Britain’s most celebrated explorers. One of the chapters focused upon his first attempt to scale Mount Everest and I was struck by the process required.
Getting to the base camp is a challenge in itself, but one must actually partially ascend and descend the mountain multiple times in order to acclimatise. It is only after that period of acclimatisation that you can head for the summit.
The analogy is compelling — the simple fact is that you cannot just climb straight up Everest without first taking multiple steps both towards and away from it. I’m sure you can see how this relates to the fulfilment of your dreams.
There should never be a point at which you give up on your dreams — only reassessment. If you want to reach the summit but you can’t get past the base camp, perhaps you need to acclimatise for longer or make shorter journeys to waypoints that are more easily reached.
What’s Your Dream?
We all have dreams. Some of us will fulfil them and others will not — the big difference maker will be about your approach. Are you going to shoot for the stars or start working on that space program instead?
I want you to do something right now — I want you to figure out what your next step is. What gets you one step closer to your dream, no matter how small of a step it is? Tell us your dream and share your first step in the comments section!