Is it just me or does anybody else ever struggle with the future? I couldn’t tell you how many nights I have stayed up past the midnight hour, notebook, pencil in hand, Bible open writing goals and dreams and aspirations for my future self. Sometimes these dreams are wild, write a book, make a documentary film, start a non-profit etc. Other times they are as simple as my southern VA roots, fall in love, get married, raise some babies and build my dream house with a wrap around porch and with blue shutters nestled back in the country. Is it just me or is everyone else out there just a little bit confused as to which dream they have in their hearts that is worth chasing?
Personally, I believe anything (and I honestly mean ANYTHING) is possible. If you really want something bad enough in life, it is just my belief system that you can and will achieve it if you persist long enough at it. But the real question isn’t IF you can achieve something, the heart of the matter is WHY you want to achieve it. See that has been my problem…I have spent most my life knowing that I can acheive my goals and dreams, but I haven’t spent near enough time defining the real WHY to all my wild aspirations.
This is where I think the significance of clearly defining what you value is the single most important thing to success in life. Imagine for a second you dream of becoming the CEO of a major organization someday (I’m talking fortune 500 big). You spend your youth doing all the right things, getting an education, landing your first job, and so you begin your climb to the top. Along the way there will be sacrifices…you’ll have to move two or three big times in your life to major cities where you don’t really know anyone. Later you’ll go back to school…get more education…and get out and really start to climb that ladder again. After some time let’s say a modest 25 years you wake up and you’ve made it. You are now the CEO of widgets and gizmos company and they pay you well…your a 1 percenter for sure. You’ll be able to afford the finest foods, the finest schools for your children, and drive the nicest cars all while being invited to the finest parties. Congratulations you have made it…
Or have you?
What if you finally reach that dream you thought you had and realize…you don’t even like nice things. You miss your old pickup truck and your middle class friends. You could care less for the fancy restaurants and if your honest you don’t even know if you like the suit and tie look? What I have just described is what I believe a text book example of what living out, “your dreams” would look like if you didn’t first live out your values.
When I graduated from college this is exactly where I found myself. I was living out my, “dream” of one day becoming a big somebody in a big corporation somewhere. I talk to a lot of college aged kids and it still amazes me how almost 90% of the kids I talk to fall into this exact category. Full of dreams and ambitions and empty on real values.
So what do I value? If I’m honest…I like middle class. I value blue collar work. I value building things that make a difference. I value being around my family. I value being there when my ten year old brother trace hits that home run or pitches that perfect game. I value my church family. I value real relationships with the people that God has placed into my life.
So what about those dreams and ambitions? I don’t think I will ever give any of them up. I believe that God made me a dreamer for a reason and I refuse to neglect that gift…and you shouldn’t neglect your God given gifts either.
What I am trying to say in a nut shell is this…your dreams are important…but if you want to reach that dream that really matters…shape up your values first. Define what is important to you. Once you do that…any dream you have that aligns with those values…pursue them with your whole heart. Make the sacrifices, work the long hours, go to bed late, rise early and chase the dreams and hold the vision. But just remember define your values first, then follow the dream.
written with love,