I used to follow my dreams.
This aimless, shapeless being called “your dream” is glorified by society as the epitome of all happiness, serving as the guiding light of the entrepreneurship community. It’s universal in its nature, yet so personal to each of us.
My dream came into my life at a young age and, like any optimistic, slightly rebellious girl in her mid-twenties, I dutifully began following it.
I bowed down to its every whim like a puppy begging to be adopted by the first person that offered affection. This dream was called “hopefully one day I can have my own fashion brand.”
After much excitement and much Googling, I got to work.
I was doing all the things I was supposed to do: writing, designing, drafting patterns, curating my Instagram feed, blogging about topics I didn’t care much about for the purpose of getting found on Google, taking (amateur) photos, dress fittings, learning Photoshop, covering all my bases, not going into debt or hiring help and therefore doing everything myself.
My future and wellbeing began to depend on this mysterious being, and my days started to fade and blend into each other. I became irritated often, and for no tangible reason. I knew that I lacked clarity on where I was going, but I figured if I kept busy, I’d find my way and my purpose would reveal itself to me.
What began as an adventure soon became a quest to simply get through the day.
Keeping my head above water became the goal–let alone accomplishing anything of real value.
My to do list morphed into a masochistic, mocking habit.
It began to take on qualities akin to rabbits in heat: breeding as easily as breathing.
For every two items I checked off my list, four more came to their funeral.
The destination became more elusive by the day.
It was like that feeling you get when you dare yourself to jump off the boat and swim to shore. You’re swimming and swimming, but the shoreline doesn’t appear any closer.
What was happening?
Is it like this for everyone?
I wore each task-filled day like a badge of honour that would soon bring me to my goal: own a profitable business that enriched my lives and the lives of those who interacted with it.
And yet, my “dream” had transformed into something I didn’t even want to think about.
It was too daunting. The list was too long.
The hamster wheel and I had become so familiar with each other, but the hamster wheel wasn’t my dream–it was a byproduct of not doubling down on exactly what I wanted.
A symptom of an even bigger problem: my inability to recognize that following my dreams implied a level of passivity that I couldn’t afford to feed into.
It denotes that I am not the one in control–my dream is. It means being helpless to the destination– a mere ornament on a crazy roller coaster.
I was just the follower.
So instead, I made a mental shift in the way I’ll tackle this.
Goals that are clear and limited.
Instead of chasing pie in the sky visions for my life that included “autonomy,” and “be my own boss,” I’m now laser focused on two things I enjoy doing: designing and making women’s dresses, and writing about the ups and downs that come with entrepreneurship and creative work.
I could set up a business buying mass amounts of cheap electronics from China and reselling them on Amazon and probably “be my own boss,” but I’d really be trading in for a different boss– the voice in my head telling me my days are filling up with nothing more than an unsustainable business model that means nothing to me.
It isn’t about that.
It’s about leading myself to exactly what I want my day to look like.
Crafting my future with such clarity that saying no to anything that doesn’t serve that future is met with an immediate no.
Full-time elimination of unnecessary jargon intended on distracting me from what I want. Offensive instead of defensive. Proactive instead of reactive.
Rather than passively following my dreams, I am actively choosing to spend my time pursuing a limited ideal: making beautiful clothing that delights anyone who wears it, and encouraging my fellow creatives through words.
This forces me to forfeit other options. Kind of like a marriage.
Because the whole premise of consciously choosing means I can’t have it all.
But what I do have will be exactly what I want.