I never dreamed of teaching Pilates or owning my own business, but I do believe what I do makes people feel better. And that helps make each day a good day.

I never dreamed of teaching Pilates or owning my own business, but I do believe what I do makes people feel better. And that helps make each day a good day.

I’m usually not a sucker for a headline like, “Best Motivational Video 2016.”  But I followed the link, clicked, and watched.  And I don’t think I left with the right takeaway.  Now, I would never say that someone shouldn’t follow their dreams.  I encourage following dreams.  I’m a dreamer myself. 

But here’s the thing I think about when I see a video like this.  What if everyone followed their dreams?  Who would build the roads to get us there?  Who would clean the sewer to help us achieve our dreams comfortably?

Being inspired to follow your dream is nice.  But if you are one of many people who doesn’t have a passion, you feel disillusioned.  I’ve talked to many people who say they don’t have one pursuit they feel hungry to follow.  We shouldn’t be cautious about following a dream because the person next to us doesn’t have one.  I just think it’s wise to point out that not everyone has a singular urge for their life’s work.  Not knowing what you want to do is actually normal. 

So follow your dream if you have one.  But if you don’t have one, or if you know you don’t want your dream enough to risk for it, or if life just doesn’t actually give you the option to fulfill your dream right now because sometimes life does legitimately get in the way for people you have another option.  Even if you followed your dream and it turned out not to be what you expected, you are not stuck. 

I think perhaps more important than pushing people to follow their dreams, we have to remind each other to take pride in our work.  If you take pride in how you spend your days, you will develop self-respect.  If you have a dream, you’ll build confidence to reach for it. The forty hours or more you spend working a week will feel less like drudgery. Lately, I feel like many people lack pride in their work.  They don’t see how they fit into the big picture.  And that’s a greater loss than not following a dream.  If you don’t value what you do, you often start to lose value in yourself.  Our jobs don’t have to define us as humans, but spend that much time doing anything and it will influence how you think and feel, not only about life, but about yourself. 

My grandfather working for CL&P.

My grandfather working for CL&P.

My grandfather worked for CL&P as a lineman for most of his career.  At other times he delivered bread, reset bowling pins or was a flagger during road construction.  No matter what he did, he took pride in the work.  He would come home with stories from the day.  If he was going to be flagging, he was going to be the best damn flagger in Connecticut.  Maybe he would make someone’s day driving passed by engaging with them.  He felt responsible for keeping the construction crew safe.  His perspective on his jobs gave him personal worth.  No one else could give it to him, and no one else could take it away.  If he delivered bread he knew people needed that bread.  If he reset bowling pins he knew people needed a fun night out. 

Every job has the potential to provide value to someone else. 

So follow your dreams, of course.  But in the meantime take pride in whatever it is you are pursuing right now.  Because even if it’s not your dream, you can alter the world with your actions, career, and mindset.  You don’t only affect change, joy, advancement, and art by pursuing your passion.  You do it by your role in the whole system.  What you do matters.  But it matters less if you devalue the work because then how you feel and interact with colleagues and clients will be affected.  You will be affected. 

It doesn’t matter how the rest of the world views your job.  You must have internal value.  And if you take enough pride in what you are doing, and do it well, you’ll convince others of the worth of your role.

I’m part of a generation who was told to follow their dreams because we could do anything.  Some of us did and some of us didn’t.  Maybe we succeeded; maybe we didn’t.  Either way, many from my generation seem to have expected more.  Success only lasts so long.  The dream you want, the job you have, it can all come with a daily slog, paperwork, frustration.  You could reach your dream ten years later and discover it’s not what you pictured or you are ready to embark on a new dream.  You could be a famous actor and someone could deem you a mere entertainer. You could be a lawyer and someone could despise lawyers.  You could be a garbage man and someone could walk smugly by with their nose in the air.  You can be anything and someone else can try and make you feel small.   You need to value what your do—dream or no dream.  You need pride in your work and yourself.  If you can find value in the work you do, that will start to fulfill at least small dreams.