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Follow Your Boring Dreams

Everywhere you go, you encounter messages about the importance of dreaming big. As a kid, you’re told you can become anyone you wanted. As an adult, influencers and celebrities encourage you to dream of the life you want, then set out to make it happen.

Specifically, you’re told to follow these dreams of yours, whatever they may be. Following implies pursuit. It suggests you adjust your course of action to get closer to making your dreams become true.

But is that really what people want you to do? Not quite. Often, they want you to follow any dreams that don’t make their life difficult.

This is the key: follow your dreams, as long as they’re boring. At some point you figure out that what people really want is for you to follow certain, societally-accepted dreams that don’t cause them any discomfort or envy.

Follow the dreams we approve of. Submit your dreams for approval before any following can commence. Dream big, sure, but keep your big dreams to yourself. 

You could also think of it as: “Follow your boring, non-threatening dreams.” Those dreams are A-OK! It’s perfectly reasonable to have baby dreams. Not only will no one ever complain about them, they often make other people happy.

If someone has chosen to settle in life and ignore any bigger dreams of their own, seeing how you’ve sold yourself short makes them feel better. If they do have any big dreams they’re following, or even medium-sized dreams (“16 ounces”) they’ll feel good, too. Their dreams are bigger than yours, and when it comes to dreams, size matters.

Now of course, this dynamic creates a problem for you. Do you downsize your dreams to make other people feel better? Or do you choose to follow your dreams—the real ones—with the understanding that this choice might make some people uncomfortable?

Perhaps it’s helpful to take a longterm perspective. What is the cost of not following your dreams? When you begin to think in those terms—weighing not only the benefits of taking it easy, but also the costs—it might get easier to make this difficult choice.