Put your dreams on hold

by | Apr 8, 2010 | 3 comments

What would you call someone who sits and listens to a group of people giving bad advice to another and says nothing to correct them?

That is what I did last night. I am a jobs coach with four other coaches – and I sat silent while well meaning coaches told the participants they should set their dreams aside and get a job – any job.

Why did I sit silent? Why have I sat there silent night after night listening to this? Perhaps I am wondering if my advice of following your dreams is right. Maybe I am the evil one – sending people plummeting to their own self-inflicted doom – going after a dream they will never reach.

180 degrees out of Sync

The group meets every Wednesday night at my church. For weeks I have really struggled as to why I have been silent. I have felt out of sync with the coaches I am working with. I knew something was not clicking. Last night I realized it  – I am 180 degrees out of sync with these coaches.

Two of the women in the class had strong passions – one for acting and dance and the other for fashion. Yet the coaches have continued to tell them the following….

  • go back and get your college degree
  • go check out job X or job Y where the companies are hiring
  • take advantage of government programs to help you do things for free
  • be practical and get a normal job

All of this has been unsettling – even though I know the coaches really mean the best for each participant. Yet it became clear when the coaches seemed to strongly agree on one single point …  Put your dreams aside!

My heart really sank when I heard these words uttered. Are we really advising these people to go against their dreams? Is that the best advice we can give them?

The Vomit Comet

All I could think about was my friend Tim Taylor – who wanted to be an astronaut but vomited 80 times on one training exercise (a training flight commonly called the Vomit Comet). His performance essentially washed him out of the program. He then continued to work for NASA and became a member of the shuttle launch team – a job he truly LOVES. His statement to me has always been….

Find your dream and then get as close to it as possible!

I love this quote – it is so practical – so real – and yet so lofty. In a world where everyone tells you to settle for less and put your dreams aside – Tim has prospered doing what he loves.

I know of so many other stories where people have refused to  set their dream aside – but have dealt with their dream on real terms – knowing the world is not all about fairy tales. Yet, in the harsh reality of making a living and providing for their families – so many people have held their dream as the center of the target – the bulls-eye.

While they may not have hit a bulls-eye – many are at least living on the target. They may have missed – but barely. How much better is it to get close than to never have fired at all. I can remember hearing Jack Canfield’s dream of making $100,000 a year (he was making $25,000 at the time) and he failed – making only $96,000 that year. That is failure I can live with.


Yet last night I was taken back – is it just more practical to settle in and make a normal living? Am I advising people to take to their dreams and giving them false hope? I have seen many who have gone after their dreams and puttered out – I always attributed it to lack of commitment – a half-hearted attempt.

What about you? Have you settled and decided to not even shoot for the target?  What have you decided? Should we all just settle and be happy where we are?

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Dale Callahan

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  1. Ralph


    Don’t ever stop telling people to follow their dreams! We have enough people saying you can’t / shouldn’t. Passions = enthusiasm. I don’t have to tell you the root of enthusiasm. Even if you follow your dream / passion and fail completely, you are a better person – you are more alive – and you know yourself better. Sure it hurts but it kills something deep inside to know you gave up and never tried.

    This is not just rah-rah talk. I speak from experience. I’m 6’6″ and wanted to fly for the military. For the record, that’s too tall. (also heard a boatload of reasons I should not try) Long story but I made it to flight school where for other reasons (medical) I didn’t earn my wings. On the outside – a failure – on the inside – the best thing I ever did. I met someone later who said they wanted to fly as well but when told they were too tall, they figured they had no chance. He was 6’4″. You should have seen his eyes go dim when he realized someone got closer. I have a ton more examples.

    If you are EVER tempted to not, in a reasonable way, pursue your passion / dreams, just think about how you will feel when you meet someone who at least tried. Feed your family but hold on to your dreams.

    Dale you are breath of fresh air – go get them!

  2. Dale

    Thanks! I just am in need of a sanity check. Either you have confirmed I am not crazy – or you just choose to be crazy too. Either way is better than the norm!

  3. karina

    hey, you should continue telling people to believe in their dreams and follow them and if they are passionate enough about their dreams then they will get “as close to their dreams as they can”; and i definitely agree with ralph dreams=passions= enthusiasm – dont take enthusiasm away from people with great dreams that they may achieve! and thank you for sharing your thoughts because someone may read and realise that if they dont follow ur dreams they will end up having lived a different life… so thank you and keep telling people to hold on to their dreams!!!


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