Killing Your Darlings, and Some Dreams #mondayblogs

I come from a generation that was taught to pursue their dreams. I’m not sure if it is because we were the first generation that generally earned less than our parents or because we found ourselves in our thirties, settling for whatever we ended up with. We are a generation that created the glut in motivational speakers and we are the ones that filled that need by pretending we had something to share.

So what’s the harm in that? Dreams give us drive and help us to strive to achieve more, right? The problem is those same motivational speakers. They have told us never to give up, that never quitting is somehow virtuous and that if we ever want to achieve our dream we have to have an unwavering belief in that dream.

That’s cult shit and one of the most harmful things to our generation. That’s one of the reasons people spend their whole life trying to get a game company to pick up their version of Candyland with celebrity pieces or keep pouring their time and money into a business that failed years ago. Motivational speakers and books have taught them that all of these are just hurdles in their way, that any dream is worth whatever sacrifice needs to be made. Bullshit!

Somewhere along the way, we lost our ability to critically evaluate dreams and judge their worthiness. Probably around the same time we started to give our kids participation ribbons and accepted math answers that were wrong because we didn’t want to discourage the kids. Well, dreams MUST be evaluated and re-evaluated constantly. There is a cost/reward ratio that needs to be continuously monitored and when the cost is no longer worth the payoff, the dream must be put on a shelf. Dreams are not some divine exception to critical thought, and you don’t just get one of them. Open your mind to new opportunities and you’ll find dozens and one of them might even be a good fit.

I’m not saying that we should ignore dreams and aspirations, but we should demystify them. Take away their protective coatings and see if they can stand up to rational analysis. If they can, great. If they can’t, then take that dream off life support. A dream that can’t stand on its own will only drag you down with it.

One of the rules of writing is to “Kill your darlings”. That rule should apply to dreams as well. If it doesn’t fit the context of your life, put it away until it does.

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