Looking Ahead

A few days ago, we talked about looking back. Of course, life can’t be all about what came before; if we’re not looking forward, it’s hard to get anywhere, and harder to know where we’re going.

We wouldn’t take a road trip without an idea where we’re going. Why, then, do so many of us go through our adult lives without any idea where we want to be?

Plenty of reasons, actually:

  • We feel like we have to do what’s expected of us.
  • We think we don’t have the right education to do what we really want to do.
  • We’re too busy making a living or supporting our family to have time for a dream.
  • We think dreams are for kids, and the responsible thing to do is get a steady job and support our family.
  • We don’t know how to do what we really want to do.

Every one of these is a valid reason not to have a long-term goal or make a plan. But none of them is enough to stop us.

Each of us has more options than ever before in history. None of us is required to do what our parents did, or even what our parents expect, no matter how much it seems that way. The way to honor our parents is not to do as they expect when it runs contrary to our dreams–it’s to make the most of ourselves we can, which is easier when we’re doing what we really love to do.

Education is a bigger obstacle than expectations in some ways, but even it isn’t insurmountable. I listened to a TED talk today by a fifteen-year-old boy who developed a test for early detection of pancreatic cancer. He’s not a prodigy, although he’s clearly an intelligent young man who thinks outside the box. He didn’t need an MD  to do it–just the right motivation.

Which leaves us with two problems: we don’t have time, and we don’t know how (if you think dreams are for kids, I don’t think I can help you in one post). Neither of these is insurmountable. Every one of us has 24 hours in our day–if we can spare ten minutes, or thirty, or skip one TV show so we can spend an hour, we can work toward our dream. Or use that time to learn how. It’s true that ten minutes a day will bring very slow progress. But it will bring progress.

So the first key is to have a dream. Then we can develop a plan to get there. It may take a long time. But if we have to spend years working for someone else and working toward what we really want–isn’t that preferable to working for someone else not knowing what we really want?

Let’s have the courage to look forward to something. Let’s have the courage to work for something that matters more than just a paycheck.

It will make a difference for all of us.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.