Why Some Dreams Should Not Be Pursued

Why Some Dreams Should Not Be Pursued

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Recently, a friend of mine met a woman while on vacation in another country. They had immediate chemistry and decided to keep in touch after he left. As the months passed by, he became more and more enamored with her, telling me that he had never met a woman like this before.
He said he hadn’t felt this way since he met his last serious ex. Apparently the feeling was mutual, as the woman continued battling through time zones to keep in touch with him as well. Soon, despite living on different continents, they conjured up plans to see each other again.

At one point, he went as far as to suggest to me that he’d be able to arrange his work-travel situation to where he could even live in her country a few months out of the year and make a relationship work. This was serious business — especially coming from a friend I knew to be particularly commitment-averse.

Eventually they found a solution. He had another business trip overseas, and he could take the following week off at a beach town nearby and arrange to have her flown there to meet him with his frequent flyer points. She excitedly accepted. He arranged for a romantic room, massage trips at a local spa, walks on the beach, the whole nine yards. It was finally going to happen.

We are all beaten over the head that we should always pursue our dreams, always follow our passions, always turn reality into what we believe will make us happy. Most marketing and advertising is based on this. The majority of the self help industry pushes this. And with the rise of Tim Ferriss and “lifestyle design” obsession of this generation, it has become a borderline religion:

To create and define one’s own life is viewed as some sort of salvation; to remain trapped within the confines of traditional society as some kind of hell.

But this isn’t necessarily rock hard capital-T truth. In fact, it’s largely a cultural belief. The entire modus operandi of United States was the idea that any person can achieve what they desire assuming they work hard enough. Individuality and originality have been successfully marketed to us the past century to the point of parody: We’re told that such-and-such shaving cream will make us “our own man;” that driving a mass-produced sports car is the best way to express ourselves.

Here’s a KFC commercial that uses chicken fingers to appeal to our individuality:

But it’s not just materialism, the “follow you dreams” mentality dominates our relationships as well. It’s only in the last couple centuries that romantic love has been championed as the sole prerequisite for a happy relationship.

Lonely? Just fall in love and then live happily ever after! Duh.

It’s reached the point where practically all of our pop culture is based upon the idea that romantic love is a justification for just about any neurotic behavior.

The underlying assumption behind all of this? You deserve your dreams. You owe it to yourself to pursue them at all cost. Achieve your dreams and they will finally make you happy once and for all.

Whether it’s a enlightenment, or realizing a tryst with a woman halfway around the planet, we’re told that we owe it to ourselves to go out and get it, and we’re some type of failure if we don’t. (Now buy this hemorrhoid cream for $19.95.)

The Purpose of Fantasy

In his book What Women Want, author Daniel Bergner interviewed hundreds women about their sex lives and sexual fantasies. One story in the book I found particularly interesting.

One young woman from New York City had had a recurring sexual fantasy for years. In the fantasy, she is in a restaurant and she goes to the bathroom. But before she can close the door, the waiter follows her in, pushes her up against the wall and fucks her aggressively from behind. In some fantasies, there’s a second waiter. In some fantasies, there are people watching and verbal threats. Regardless, the fantasy always ends with the waiter screaming with pleasure as he cums inside her.

On one of her birthdays, a group of her friends threw a little party for her at a small restaurant in Brooklyn. She was an artist, and so she hung out with what I suppose would be kind of a progressive and free-thinking crowd. A lot of her friends were gay men, including her best friend. Her best friend told her that he had gotten her a gift, but it was a surprise.

About halfway through the dinner, as the gay friend is teasing her about what her present is going to be and how she’s going to get it soon, the waiter comes up behind her and whispers in her ear, “You should go to the bathroom.” She freezes. She immediately knows what her “gift” is. The waiter is hot — exactly her type physically, exactly the type of man she fantasizes about. Her gay friend starts giggling wildly. “Well? Are you going to go or not?”

She gets up, heart pounding, and she enters the bathroom, and before she can close the door behind her, the waiter pushes it back open. He closes it and locks it behind him and looks her in the eyes. She’s speechless, terrified and excited and wet all at the same time. He grabs her and starts kissing her hard, grabbing her body. She kisses back, closing her eyes, falling back into her fantasy, unable to distinguish her mind from reality. The waiter undoes his pants and whips out his cock, it’s hard and ready.

He goes to grab her. She hesitates. She looks away and resists his pull. She can’t do it. He tries to move her again and she won’t. She says, “I can’t do this.” He looks confused. He says, “Yeah, you can.” And goes to grab her again. She says, “No, no, I have a boyfriend.” He looks at her for a moment confused. Finally he says, “Are you sure?” She says, “Yeah, I’m sure,” unlocks the bathroom and runs out.

If there’s any kind of dream or fantasy that deserves to not be pursued, it’s the rape fantasy. According to research, at least 30% of women fantasize about being raped at some point (and some put that as a low estimate.) Bergner and sex researchers suggest that one reason for the prevalence of aggressive fantasies isn’t so much the rape themselves, but rather the desire to feel a loss of control.

Losing control in reality is dangerous. Despite how arousing it may be, one could get hurt or killed. It’s only possible to lose control and stay safe within the confines of one’s own mind.

The reason not every fantasy should be pursued is because fantasies never have negative repercussions. Reality does. You’re able to feel fear and terror without ever actually being in danger. You can feel excitement and adrenaline without ever actually risking anything. You can experience the joy and pride of a great success without actually suffering through the hard work.

Sometimes wanting something is better than having it

This was supposed to be me one day.

This was supposed to be me one day.

For most of my adolescence and young adulthood, I fantasized about being a musician — a rock star, in particular. Any badass guitar song I heard, I would always close my eyes and envision myself up on stage playing it to the screams of the crowd, people absolutely losing their minds to my sweet finger-noodling. This fantasy could keep me occupied for hours on end.

The fantasizing continued up through college, even after I dropped out of music school and stopped playing seriously. But even then it was never a question of if I’d ever be up playing in front of screaming crowds, but when. I was biding my time before I could invest the proper amount of time and effort into getting out there and making it work.

Even when I started my first online business, it was with an eye to cash in quick and then finally start my belated career as a musician. Even as recently as a year ago, I bought a guitar with half a mind to start practicing again and join a band in some of the locations I ended up living.

But despite fantasizing about this for over half of my life, the reality never came. And it took me a long time to figure out why.

I didn’t actually want it.

I’m in love with the result — the image of me on stage, people cheering, me rocking out, putting everything I have into what I’m playing — but I’m not in love with the process.

The daily drudgery of practicing, the logistics of finding a group and rehearsing, the pain of finding gigs and actually getting people to show up and give a shit. The broken strings, the blown tube amp, hauling 40 lbs of gear to and from rehearsals with no car. It’s a mountain of a dream and a mile-high climb to the top. And what it took me a long time to discover is that I don’t like to climb. I just want to imagine the top.

Our culture would tell me that I’ve somehow failed myself. Self help would say that I either wasn’t courageous enough, determined enough or I didn’t believe in myself enough. Lifestyle designers would tell me that I gave in to my conventional role in society. I’d be told to do affirmations or join a mastermind group or something.

But the truth is far less interesting than that:

I thought I wanted something. But I didn’t. End of story.

I’ve since discovered that the rock star fantasy has less to do with actually rocking out on stage than simply feeling acknowledged and appreciated. It’s no coincidence that as my personal relationships improve dramatically, the fantasy slowly fades into the background. It’s a periodic mental indulgence now, not a driving need.

Reality is always messy

At the end of his brilliant album Antichrist Superstar, Marilyn Manson plays a loop of a spoken sentence, “When all of your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed.” The line is repeated over and over as what was a dark and beautiful ballad devolves into a chaos of clustered samples and distorted noise.

Later, in his autobiography, Uncle Marilyn explained what that line meant and why he ended the album with it.

After achieving all of his goals — the fame, the fortune, the social critiques, the artistic statements, the rock star status — he was paradoxically the most miserable he had ever been in his life. Reality hadn’t lived up to his fantasies. There were stresses and pains he could have never imagined. Vices had taken hold. The character of those around him had changed.

In the book, he relates breaking down and crying into a pile of cocaine in the studio while recording the song. Because at the tender age of 27, he felt he had nothing else to look forward to in life. He had already achieved everything he had ever wanted. And the excess of it was destroying him.

In my own life, I’ve written about how the dream of living as a digital nomad — traveling the world and working online — has at times presented unpredictable challenges and downsides that you never get when you live in one place. Fellow nomad Benny Lewis recently wrote about similar issues in his life.

The truth is that pain, longing and frustration are just a fact of life. We believe that our dreams will solve all of our current problems without recognizing that they will simply create new variants of the same problems we experience now. Sure, these are often better problems to have. But sometimes they can be worse. And sometimes we’d be better off dealing with our shit in the present instead of pursuing some ideal in the future.


How do we know the difference? How do we know what’s worth pursuing? We don’t always. But here are two guidelines that can help:

  1. Fall in love with the process, not the result – If your job is drudgery now, then there’s no reason to suspect it won’t still be drudgery when you make partner or when you’re managing your own division. We live in a results-based society, and unfortunately this gets most of us (70% by some surveys) onto the wrong pursuits and career paths.
  2. What’s motivating you? – Take a long, hard look at what’s really driving you. Is it some compensation for an unmet need? Or is it a genuine expression of enthusiasm and joy? The fact that I fantasized about being on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans and didn’t fantasize about writing or playing new songs is telling.

Does this mean you shouldn’t pursue your dreams? Is this some kind of nihilistic screed against how the world is shit and we should all waste away and nothing matters anyway?


I’m simply urging you to exert a little caution. We’ve all been bombarded with the message that if we’re not making ourselves special in some way, then we don’t matter. But as David Foster Wallace wrote at length about, some of the most heroic people in the world are those who toil silently through the monotony and boredom, who live lives of simple satisfaction and anonymous successes. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

When my friend informed me of his beach getaway plan with his foreign love interest, I strongly advised him against it. I went on about perceptual biases, how distance allows us to idealize others, about being blinded by infatuation, how it sets a terrible precedent for a relationship, and so on.

He said he understood. But he had never met a woman like her and that if he didn’t at least find out, he’d wonder “What if?” for the rest of his life.

Sounds reasonable, even admirable. But my point was that he actually hadn’t met this woman yet. The woman he had met who was “like nobody else” was a product of his fantasies and desires, not reality. What was reality were the dozens of women around him whom he was ignoring in favor of pursuing a romantic phantom.

The week of the getaway came. He disappeared online for a few days. When he resurfaced, his first message to me was, “Well, I know you’re going to say ‘I told you so,’ but…”

From his account, the first day was fine, if a bit awkward and distant. But then the weight of the stratospheric expectations crashed through on the second day. She couldn’t square the circle of their lifestyle differences, the living on two different continents. I imagine reality hit her like a slap in the face: she’s on some beach somewhere with a guy she only met for a few hours the year before. What the hell was she doing?

She told him that she thought they should just be friends.

Obviously, my friend was disappointed. But by the third day, the disappointment had turned into anger — and not necessarily at her, but at reality. This woman who “had everything he looks for in a woman,” and who was like “no one he had met before,” had within three days become “immature,” “entitled,” and “unappreciative.”

But the fact is that she had always been those things. Just as he had always been just a friend to her. They were just the last ones to find out.

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  • Reply

    Christopher Alderman

    1 month ago

    These are all great insights but my issue is that most people don’t even know how to choose what is of value, to them. We aren’t taught by society parents or educational systems how to think critically about what our core values are, how they should feel, or how to achieve them in the real world.
    Most of our core assumptions and expectations are formed during our childhood years by haphazard, unguided exposure to a chaotic mix of behaviours and emotions we perceive in our environment with varying degrees of apparent outcomes. These “feelings” are then “hardened” into BELIEF, which is notoriously resistant to re evaluation, even when reality provides overwhelming evidence oc the contrary. Galileo proved that the earth revolves around the sun. Yet 1/3rd of Americans still act as if they believe that God created it 6000 years ago.
    Changing people’s minds is the goal of marketing and social media influencers, who count on people not thiking for themselves. The YinYang/Catch 22 of human sentience is having to persuade people not to be persuaded by others but to think and feel for themselves.

    • Reply

      Spartan Caver

      7 weeks ago

      Nice point on the failure and falseness of current western religious belief systems. It is a inherent behavior of all animals and plants to take the easy way out. Period. If it involves a struggle to get through school or struggle to grow up in crack in the side walk, life will find the easiest way to succeed. When we as people fail to reach our goals, we tend to seek to defer or deflect the reason for our failure to win. Sometimes there really are extraneous unforeseen circumstances. i.e. After watching the demand for web designers grow and grow, I applied for and was accepted at a major college for their web designer program. This was the fall of 1999. By the Spring of 2000, hundreds of internet business were out of business and thousands of programmer and site builders were looking for employment. I might have seen that coming right? But two things, one, the media was heralding the seemingly un-stoppable grow of the IT business. The media was warning of a possible computer crash with the 2000 problem, but they also said experts said there shouldn’t be a problem. The IT growth should go and go. It of course didn’t and crashed. Fast forward to a man that buys a home repair / improvement franchise and is in the final stages to launch the business September 11, 2001. Oh Shit, right? He put off the launch, considered walking away but went ahead and two years later sold the franchise for triple his investment.
      My point being, either God intended to tease me with what he knew was a fruitless dream, or, he intended to tease me to watch me fail, or, I just hit a bad spell just like the second man. Timing was bad. Shit happens and we as humans do not want to step up and accept the blame for our own fuck ups. Nothing hurts like the pain of regret right? So let’s blame a deity.

  • Reply

    J Evan LeFreak

    1 month ago

    As I sit here with no dreams or fantasies I find this article interesting and timely. It also hits pretty close to the mark as I see it and I’m a big “follow your dreams” kind of person. I aslo have always had that dream of being a rockstar. My life has taken all sorts of twists and turns but then one day I woke up and realized that I am a rockstar. To be honest it doesn’t look anything like my fantasies but there is no denying that I am a rockstar. The fact is I’ve probably always been a rockstar; it’s just that now I know it.

    I embrace my dreams because they give me guidance and direction but they are not a means to an end. There is no end, there is only the present and if your dreams don’t serve you in the now then find better dreams.

  • Reply


    1 month ago

    Thanks for questioning the ‘follow-your-dreams’ self-help propaganda – that was brave of you. I’m often suspicious that people who aspire to, or do, this are not so much following a dream as escaping a reality. As a youth, I imagined myself an actress which was nothing to do with a desire to act and all the “process” around that as it was a desire to feel loved and acknowledged. As I’ve experienced real love and acknowledgement the idea of being an actress is of little interest and in fact, could have very unpleasant outcomes (fame) if I were very successful.

    Long-distance love is such a classic fantasy error and a good example of the issue you’ve raised. I’ve often thought that the root problem with pornography is the promise of easy happiness, pure satisfaction without effort or consequence (a regression to infantile expectations). And, by pornography, I mean men’s sex-based pornography, women’s romance-based pornography and even children’s fairy-tale pornography in which happiness is delivered by wishing (don’t get me started on The Secret which is new-age pornography as far as I’m concerned). What a challenge it is to not equate happiness with ease. And not to make happiness the highest accomplishment – one of my best accomplishments is self-respect which was gained through struggle rather than ease. I must admit though, I still have a lottery ticket; I’m not immune to this aspiration. :)

    Thanks Mark, for being controversial and honest.

  • Reply


    29 weeks ago

    While away in Mexico for a semester abroad I met a young woman from my university whom I never knew before. We were instantly attracted to one another. We became good friends. Then we became good make-out buddies. We both had significant others back in the States and decided to keep things to just that – making out and groping each other. We became inseparable for the rest of the semester – getting caught up in the tropical, romantic surroundings of Southeastern Mexico. When the semester was over we both went back to school and our “normal” lives with our old friends and romantic partners. We graduated and went our separate ways. I was convinced I was in love with her. I felt that she was “the one that got away”. She was always on my mind for 20+ years. We stayed in touch for many years. We even got together for lunch in NYC two times. Each of us got married, had children and eventually bot of us got divorced. You could imagine my joy when we reconnected on Facebook. At first it was emails. Then countless phone calls. She was living in New Mexico and I was in Connecticut. We agreed to a romantic weekend in Los Angeles over Labor Day weekend. There were weeks of anticipation. When we finally met in LA it was at first awkward but as the weekend went along we became more and more connected. I professed by (up until this moment) unrequited love for her. We never left the grounds of the hotel. It was bed, pool, restaurant, repeat. We discussed our next trip. How someday I would move to New Mexico and all that good stuff. At the end of the weekend we both left in a love fog. As we returned to our normal, everyday lives 2000 miles apart the fog lifted. We were both busy, single parents. Soon the emails and phone calls were fewer and further in between. After about 6 weeks we both agreed that there were too many miles and too many years between us. She had a life there and I had a life here. It just ended. We were both hurt and disappointed. This fantasy love of mine, someone I obsessed over for many years and whom I finally had the chance to be with was not who or what I thought she was. That was one fantasy I wish I had left alone.

  • Reply


    28 weeks ago

    “life is what happens to you whilst you busy making other plans”…John Lennon

  • Reply

    Camille C

    28 weeks ago

    This article may have just completely changed my perspective on life.

  • Reply


    27 weeks ago

    Hi there, Mark. I wondered if you might qualify your terms “fantasy” and “dream” a bit more clearly. I find your insights quite provocative and thoughtful; though I think it could be a precarious predicament to conflate these two notions as the former (as you so well state) is better left in one’s daydreams and the latter might be considered something (intellectual?) achieved. Any thoughts?

  • Reply

    Anna Jorgensen

    25 weeks ago

    Completely agree! Got to the top of my previous career (at least locally) and was miserable. Left that. Thought I wanted to make acting my midlife go to. Was lucky enough to get a role in a commercial within a month of that decision. Waiting around all day on set, not enjoying the process (amongst other things) made me realize I most certainly don’t want to be in the acting business. Glad I found out so early. Now I write. I write because I love to write and whether I make it big or not doesn’t really matter. (‘Really’ because I like to still eat.) Thank you for the reminder to enjoy the process; enjoy the journey. Guess I need to give up my Gerard Butler fantasy. (Sigh.) ;) Anna J http://www.annamadeitme.com/blog (Warning: NC17)

  • Reply

    Adam Underhill

    25 weeks ago

    It’s funny that you mention wanting to be a rock star. Last night I was looking at a Wikipedia page of the Beatles’ tour dates. The first three years, 1961 through 63, they played a show nearly every night. There was an occasional night off, but mostly the band was constantly playing live in England, France and Germany. This was well before they became ‘The Fab Four.’ When they achieved immortality it was after years of drudgery, squalor, and hard work. Meanwhile their fame became a man-made prison and a macabre curse. However artistically the band had unparalleled greatness with few duds – because they each worked hard at it, on the road and in the studio.

  • Reply

    JR Moreau

    21 weeks ago

    Great post. I was in the same situation as your friend, except I wound up moving out to be with this woman across the country after spending just a few hours in total with her. The relationship lasted for four years, but man it could have easily gone the other way.

  • Reply


    20 weeks ago

    Wow. You put in words what I have always(in desperation) struggled to explain to my partner. I am not a dreamer but I wouldn’t consider myself ‘without plans’. I just believe that we can make the most out of what is given to us NOW, and be happy when we make progress rather than using our ‘dream’ as an escape when reality doesn’t seem to be favorable. Very practical outlook and realistic! Thank you!

  • Reply


    19 weeks ago

    Partly correct, but not entirely. The dream should be so intense that you don’t mind the hardwork! At the same time, you should love the process. If not love, atleast like it. Of course you can’t hate it. You can’t “dream” about the process, only the result. The process you can enjoy, but not dream of. If you’re dreaming about the process as against doing it, then you’re nothing more than a day dreamer. That’s an issue of entitlement. I don’t think you should blame your lack of application for not becoming a rockstar. From what you’ve written – that you turned internet entrepreneur to secure yourself first, and dreaded roaming the country for gigs – it’s clear you didn’t believe in yourself, or your dream. It’s not that you didn’t like roaming town to town, it’s just that somewhere you knew even if you did, maybe no one would turn up to listen to you. Even if they did, maybe they wouldn’t turn to their friends and say – hey, this Mark guy is a fabulous guitarist. Maybe what you needed was to slither on the floor like Jim Morrison or twerk like Miley Cyrus which you thought was way below dignity. It was the gut feeling – not laziness – which prevented you from going the whole hog. I’m not getting personal here. I’m undergoing a similar crisis, and maybe I’m extending my insecurities on you. My apologies if that’s the case.

  • Reply

    Sam Clitheroe

    19 weeks ago

    This is awesome,

    I have a BIG dream list of things I want to accomplish and achieve, but none of them are for the actual attainment of whatever it is, but for who I will become by pursuing that challenge.

    For every dream I accomplish, I am going to go out and help somebody accomplish their dream.

    I’m thankful to realize that giving back to the world is what means most to me.

    There ultimately is no destination for my life, because the process is what makes me happy.

    You are extremely intelligent; I love your writing style and everything you say.


  • Reply


    17 weeks ago

    I have learned that there are two types of dreams – the one you want to do, and the ones you want to have done. I write books, and for me the daily grind of actually writing is the dream. The rest of it is gravy. I want to speak French fluently… but do I want to do the work? Not really. Does that mean I’ve failed? No. It just means, as you point out, that I can separate the fantasy of the finish line from the reality of the long hard run. People (myself included) waste a lot of time dreaming about things they never intend to do, when they could focus themselves on the one or two things that they are willing to pursue.

  • Reply

    Aaron Prebenda

    17 weeks ago

    Having lived in Thailand for five years, I would venture a guess that this could be the country in which the author’s friend met his romantic fantasy and it didn’t work out. Among expats, it’s so common to watch this happen that many expatriates in countries around the world, not just in Thailand, avoid local women like the plague. There are huge cultural gaps that have to be overcome. If this was a Thailand situation, then the cultural gaps can almost be unbridgeable. It’s not impossible, but it’s important to understand that in many countries, particularly developing ones, love is secondary to providing for family. Many women from countries such as Thailand are as faithful as the sun and will tenderly care for their husbands their whole lives, but will never truly LOVE their husbands the way an American expects to love and be loved. Most foreign countries don’t grow up on the “Little Mermaid”, so the culture of marriage for love isn’t as entrenched as it is in the US. Lastly, in many cultures, particularly in East Asia, the husband provides for the family and kids and the wife cares for everyone, including extended family. Any American marrying into an East Asian household must understand that the expectation is for the relationship to be more functional/practical and less romantic. That being said, I did marry a Thai women who I eventually brought back to the United States. I have to accept her many differences of opinion regarding all manner of things, expected and way, way unexpected; she must accept mine. I believe her love for me is as close to what I’d like, as an American, as I can realistically accept. I love her to death. Don’t assume that these kinds of things are like winning the lottery (one in a million), but then again, remember: these types of situations most often ARE fantasy and nothing more.

  • Reply


    16 weeks ago

    Well spotted Mark,

    I just have a VERY similar situation but with a bit different outcome.

    I met a very beautiful young girl 3 weeks ago for 1 hour during my business trip to France. Amazing vibes I would say.
    I invited her to accompany me during my next business trip as it was not really packed with meetings. After 7 days of small chats she came to see me.
    We had the most exciting 4 days I could ever imagine. TLC.
    Now I visit her in her town. It is 3rd week we know each other. Well in her town she is stressed distanced. But I don’t really care. I had no “expectations” I am not angry at me at her at life… She is nice girl and makes me feel good. At this moment of my life it is actually enough.
    I think some people make one mistake. They build this fantasy world around them and then they are disappointed. Frustrated. People are just people. Different every day. Up and down.

    The outcome from this small story is that I am happy and I am moving on. I know better what I want and what I don’t want. It is very simple.

    My ex had many expectations mostly about me. She usually expected me to be “this” or to do “that”. Perhaps this is also why she is my ex?

    I would actually encourage people to pursue their dreams as this could be a good for them depending of course form circumstances. If you have to fly to the moon to meet someone this might be a bit of a dream than reality.


  • Reply


    16 weeks ago

    Really interesting thinking, point of view on life.. I totally see in that some people I’ve had in my life, living for impossible dreams and never being happy at the moment.

    On the other hand while reading I had a moment “I’m not dreaming enough! I’m too realistic all the time” but after bit of a thought I’ve fortunately realized I dream too, just maybe more realistically (but still very romantic :) life would be sad without that..

    And just a bit of my romantic reality. Story of your friend in long distance relantionship was a bit familiar for me, but in totally opposite way to what I have… Over 2 year over sea long distance. Crazy yes and sometimes sad to be alone. But I’d never done anything different way, it’s the best thing that happend to me!

    So I guess I’d say have a bit crazy dreams with feet on the ground

    Thanks for inspiring articles

  • Reply

    Brett Mogavero

    16 weeks ago

    I love reading articles that end with me thinking “damn.” in my head, this one delivers it in stride. Fall in love with the process, not the result, as a character animator is words put to what i would consider my religious beliefs. No glory can be reached in my particular field if you don’t love the planning and preparing and methodology, because you just wouldn’t survive otherwise.

    Great article, i’m glad I subscribed. :)

  • Reply


    16 weeks ago

    This reminds me of that Citi commercial where Sydney (I think…) is following her dream of singing and playing guitar, and before Citi, was planning on selling her car and other belongings to go out and follow her dreams! Well played marketing strategies to everyone but whom has read this article!

  • Reply


    15 weeks ago

    Freaking awesome article. I feel at more ease now. I realised that I’m in love with the result either and there’s no love for the process when it comes to some of my dreams.

    Thanks, mate.

    I’m glad I subscribed.

  • Reply

    Francisco Castillo

    14 weeks ago

    This is what I needed.
    Thank you.

    • Reply


      4 weeks ago

      This is probably what I needed too, so why do I feel like someone just threw my tobacco in a puddle? :(

  • Reply


    13 weeks ago

    A good take away I got from this is that we should follow our important/real dreams.

    We have fantasies and ideas that sound fun. We also have deep desires for a future that we know is in the right direction for our lives.

    What we need, is the wisdom to discern the difference.

    Great article. Full of thought-provoking ideas.

  • Reply


    13 weeks ago

    I can SO relate to this…. as I imagine we all can. In my early 20s I was on a reality tv show. Once the show wrapped all sorts of creeps (managers, business consultants, “experts” to reality TV Personalities) all came out of the wood works. You need to STAY RELEVANT. This is your ONE chance. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by! Meanwhile, I was 21 years old… had no idea wtf I wanted to do with my life and found myself bombarded with people needing me to know in that moment, before our show got off the air, and if I didn’t the consequences were MONUMENTAL. After trying about a gazillion different things that I thought were “the one thing I would do for the rest of my life”, I was called a flake, I was called lazy, I was called uncommitted. All because I kept changing my mind because the reality of the choice I had made had a great outcome, but the necessary work, I was unwilling to put in because I wasn’t excited by it. This is a great article – thanks for posting, Mark. It sure does make me feel like I’m just one in the crowd of many who goes through this type of thing!

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    12 weeks ago

    Brilliant article!

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    Theresa Cassar

    12 weeks ago

    Thanks for your insights, Mark. I really enjoy your writing, and I share many of your views. I have struggled with this idea of “pursuing your dream” and at the age of 30 have already had a few careers. I always have done well in school and work, but always backed out of careers because, as you said, I tried to pursue an interest but turns out I didn’t enjoy the process. This is such a pattern for me that it is now a running joke in our family. I used to think I was brave and daring to up and leave a job and reinvent myself while many others I knew simply stuck out the everyday drudgery in jobs that they hated. I think there is room for further discussion, because I suspect this is something that plagues the younger generations who have been told to “be whatever they want” (especially young women but then if you become a mother then dreams often become put on the back burner; enter my current situation) — what if you don’t have a dream? What if there is nothing you can pinpoint that you would be in love with enough to see the process through? This is where I get tripped up everytime, because we think we should shoot for the stars. Maybe sometimes we should just shoot. And then see what happens.

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    Bob Cox

    11 weeks ago

    Excellent article. I pursued a dream and more or less found it, of course reality alters things somewhat but I felt my decision was valid and the positives outwayed the negatives. I came to Mexico many years ago and stayed. When I look at the mess my friends in stateside put up with I feel I was correct.
    But I see people come to Mexico with what I call the ” Jimmy Buffet Syndrome” looking for paradise without realizing there are snakes in paradise.
    As I told a publisher of an expat e magazine…” Any damn fool with a million dollars can go anywhere and live anywhere…… till the money runs out, the trick is doing it without money.”
    Keep up the good work… I enjoy your articles.

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    11 weeks ago

    To cover the distance between dream and reality one has to ground and allign. Then they can become as ONE.

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    10 weeks ago

    I was wondering about the same thing.. Am I relying too much on my dream and place my ‘salvation’ in the future? In my 20′s, I used to think finding the right guy will make me happy. Snapped out of that by 30 and spent my early 30′s chasing after my dream of working on Wall Street. I managed to achieve it but the work and lifestyle were so harsh (bad for mental and physical health) that I left my ‘dream’ job within a year. It’s part of a self-discovery process as I find ways to combine my passion, talent, personality in a job that will provide me with comfortable living. It hasn’t been easy but the key is ENJOY JOURNEY or ENJOY THE Process. The “high” from arriving at a dream destination only lasts a few months then the grueling reality sets in. In terms of romance, I also met a guy I really liked just before I had to relocate. Unlike the guy who flew to see the foreign tourist, the person I met chose to end it because he is more of the practical cautious type, not a risk-taking type.

    If I can summary some valuable points:

    1. Have dreams based on reality. List out the pros/gains as well as the cons/price you need to pay.

    2. I recommend pursuing your dreams if you cannot live with the ‘regret’ of not even trying.
    (ie. I know the guy who flew to meet his foreign lover was disappointed. Had he not done that, he would’ve been left with regret.)

    3. Set a stop-loss point where pursuing the dream is ‘costing you’ too much (money, time with family, friends, health, stress etc.)

    4. Know your dream is a moving-target. Say you got your dream job or dream mate, the next challenge then becomes keeping them for as long as you can throughout the up and downs in life.

    5. You will get sad after achieving your dreams and you will be happy again after being disappointed. “This, too, shall pass.”

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    10 weeks ago

    I agree with the title given a person’s life expectancy. The journey is where memorable and enlightening experiences are born. I know when I was a kid I wanted to be all sorts of things, Policeman, Scientist, President, etc. And as I got older and learned more things I had more dreams to become a Doctor, Lawyer, successful Businessman, etc. I never knew what to pursue in life because I was fairly good at a lot of things (at least this is what I believed) so it was difficult to make a choice in life on what career path to pursue. It’s like having the body and ability to be excellent in any sport and being asked to choose one to focus and excel in. That’s a had choice for me. And what I would consider the sad part now, is that I’m almost 30 and still have no career nor clear goal other than work hard, save money and stay out of debt. If I were a lawyer or a doctor or a fighter jet pilot I like to think my life would be pretty complete, balanced and fulfilling. So I get from this article that the process must be one that I will enjoy and succeed in. I think in order to know what dream to pursue requires a worthy amount of self reflection and consideration for what each potential dream/goal will mean and require of you.

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    8 weeks ago

    Your writting is great. It wouldn’t hurt if it would be a little shorter and less wordy more to the point

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    7 weeks ago

    Thank you for yet another epiphany-inducing essay, Mark. I live in Hollywood and am an aspiring screenwriter, with ten scripts under my belt and more “almost” success stories than you can shake a stick at — scripts almost-bought by big studios, almost-funded but the money fell through, almost-produced but the Writer’s Strike hit, etc. (For every movie made in Hollywood, there are dozens and dozens more that *almost* got made.) And I’ve done much soul-searching as whether I truly want a career as a writer. My answer was yes, I love the process of writing; but I have adjusted my expectations and stopped completely sacrificing my day-job’s success and personal relationships for The Dream. I’m now living a life I love, in which it’d be wonderful if I “hit it big” but it’ll still be okay if I never do.

    And I’ve met many, many aspiring actors about whom I’ve thought (and a few whom I’ve actually told), “you don’t want to be an actor, you want to be a Movie Star.” Dreams can be wonderful, but they can also be obstacles to practical success and long-term joy. Thanks for writing so eloquently and thoughtfully on the topic. You’re one helluva thinker.

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    Linda Klee

    5 weeks ago

    I think you will enjoy this article.

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    Cassandra Sulfridge

    4 weeks ago

    Thank you for your writing!! I love it. I did not realize Uncle Marilyn was 27 when he hit his “high” spot. I was 28 last year and had a stroke due to brain tumors and subsequently was diagnosed with cancer. I had dreams that suddenly were crashed and I realized I “peeked” in life at 27, like Marilyn and I was depressed and didn’t realize it until getting diagnosed with cancer. It took me getting cancer to realize it is ok to NOT chase every dream. Dreams are plans and plans can be broken! Thanks again for reinforcing that!

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    Ted Davis

    3 weeks ago

    Wonderful blog! “Everyone wants their dream as long as they don’t have to pay the price.” Sort of like everyone wants to win the lottery, but most won’t even buy a ticket. Mark, your blogs are sooooo good. Looking forward to the next one already.

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    Aisha Abubakari

    5 days ago

    Wonderful advise! Your articles so far have made me nod my head in agreement as I read every word until the end! I really love that part: “Fall in love with the process, not the result”. Keeping it real and knowing 100% in and out.

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    Richard Voorheis

    2 days ago

    This hit home with me from a different perspective.

    As a student I discovered that I liked computer programming. Because I liked the process, I excelled and became proficient in many programming languages and computers. Life was great. Yet I “thought” that I wanted more responsibility and accepted a position as a manager of programmers. Though I did “OK” (my judgement), I fell out of the programmer mode and became a people motivator. This was fine as long as the money rolled in, but when the job ended, I was too out of date to re-enter the software development arena.

    As a software developer, I love the process. This is where I thrive. As a manager of software resources, I am good, but not the best.

    Stay with the process you love. Always seeking advancement and promotion could end your dreams.

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