Protect your Dreams

How do you protect your dreams?

The enemy of hope, optimism and aspiration is often characterized as criticism, cynicism & pessimism.

But that’s not necessarily the case.

Criticism, cynicism and pessimism can be spotted a mile away. And if you recognize them, you can protect your aspirations from them.

The more dangerous threat from which you need to protect your dreams and aspirations, is the concern of loved ones.

Both of my parents are doctors.

My older sister is a doctor. half of my parents’ friends are doctors.

And my folks wanted me to be a doctor.

So when I opted for an engineering class instead of biology, in high school, it didn’t go over so well. I eventually convinced them that computer science was a respectable enough profession. Protect your Dreams

But when I got tired of writing code for a living, I didn’t have the heart to tell them. To tell them that I wanted instead to be an entrepreneur. That I would rather crawl out of my skin than walk into a big corporate building every morning, only to emerge after dark, five times a week.

And so I became an “Underground Entrepreneur”. Respectable corporate up-and-comer by day, rebel entrepreneur by night. I protected my dreams, while nurturing them.

Ten years later, I still have a foot in both camps. Except for the first time, I’m working with real determination and focus, to get my foot out of the corporate world. I still feel hesitance in telling my parents about my intentions – preferring instead to first reach a certain level f success as an entrepreneur, before letting them know that I’m not going to be a corporate-lifer, a VP at their favorite corporate brand, etc. I’m still protecting my dreams.

Protect your Dreams

Okay – so I’m sharing this with you not to encourage you do the same. Or to gain your “Amen”. It obviously is not ideal to not fully claim your destiny, regardless of what anyone has to say. But the reality is that most of us are shaped by the impressions and expectations of our family, friends and colleagues.

How often have you found yourself pursuing a job or career because of what your family thought?

How often have you found yourself influenced on a decision that affects a large portion of your life, by people who (though close in proximity) don’t have to live with those decisions every day?

I acknowledge that not everyone has this problem. In fact, many people don’t have family that care enough to given an opinion on how they should live their life. I love my family dearly. And I have to get to the point where I am living my own life for me, not for them.

In economics and finance, there is a concept called SUNK COST. It refers to investments that you’ve already made, at the time that you are faced with a go/no-go decision.

Conventional wisdom is that sunk cost should not factor into the go/no-go decision, because the cost has already been incurred. And can’t be recovered, regardless of the decision.

An example is a person a guy who wants to take a young lady on to dinner and a movie. He decides to pick the movie, and buys the tickets ahead of time.

On the evening of the date, he picks her up at her apartment, and let’s her know what movie they’re going to see (he picked a horror movie).

“Oh!”, she exclaims, disappointed. “I’m afraid I really don’t like horror movies…”

What does he then do?

  1. Because he’s already spent money on the movie tickets, he insists that they get

    their money’s worth by going anyway.

  2. He ignores the money spent on the tickets – considering his ultimate goal, which is

    a pleasant evening for both of them, he decides to let her pick another movie, and buy those tickets instead. He protected his dreams of a second date, by ignoring the sunk cost (the bad decisions up until that point), and investing in the future.

The moral of the story? Don’t let bad decisions made in the past, overshadow your decision-making ability going forward.

So the challenge we have before us, is to first look in the rear view mirror, understanding what has shaped us up until this point. This will tell us a lot about our dreams, hopes, aspirations, fears, concerns, and shortcomings.

Then, we have to look through the windshield ahead of us.
Grab firmly at the steering wheel.
And chart our own course into the future.

We are influenced by our past.

But we influence our future.