Well, let me clarify. Dreams are what happen when we sleep. We close our eyes and experience a series of thoughts, images, and sensations. I certainly believe in these types of dreams. The kind of dreams I don’t believe in are the “it’s my dream to be a….” dreams. The reason I don’t believe in these is because if something is so important to you that you dare to call it your “dream”, then it should be redefined as a goal. This brings me to what I actually DO believe in… goals.
Goals are the object of our ambitions. We can measure our success against these goals, and we can take specific actions to help us achieve our goals. Goals is such a better word than dreams; dreams are abstract ideas, whereas goals are actionable objectives.
Now to me – I’ve rarely had a goal that I haven’t achieved or taken significant steps towards achieving. Of course, there have been some goals that I’ve failed to achieve for one reason or another, but usually if I make something my goal, I do everything I can to achieve it. When I was a kid, I lived, breathed, ate, and slept football. It was my dream (goal) to be a professional football player.
Working hard, day and night, training, studying, watching, learning, I put every ounce of effort humanly possible into achieving my goal. I worked my way through the ranks of my hometown team and, at the age of 15, got taken on as a member of the first team squad. I had achieved my goal, I was training every day with professionals – I was one of them. Over the next 2-3 years, my stock rose significantly; I was given the opportunity to represent my country, which I did with immense pride. Top professional clubs in England came sniffing and invited me to spend time with them and play in friendly matches. In 2006, in the space of a couple of months, I went from being a kid with a dream to playing against players who had just returned from the World Cup in Germany. Nothing could stop me.
Then, it all got taken away. One awkward tackle, my knee popped out of place, serious damage and an ominous diagnosis. Of course, there were many comebacks, but I never got back to the level I was at and in 2011, at the age of 21, I left my last semi-professional football club and was destined for the scrapheap.
What happens when your dreams are taken away from you? What happens when you are 21 years old, with no education, and you realise that you can no longer do the only thing you ever wanted to do. You can feel sorry for yourself. You can cry, you can turn to alcohol, you can fall in with bad groups of people and end up like them. Or you can find new goals and aspirations. How do you do that? Try everything.
Also Read: Happiness or being happy is our own ‘CHOICE’
Yes, I mean everything. Adopt an open mindset and never say no to the opportunity to try something new. You’ll find what you love, and you can set your new goals accordingly. I now work in technology, I travel to 30+ countries per year and I create videos about my experiences and put them on YouTube. I have my personal and professional goals. I’m not going to tell you what they are, but you’ll see when I achieve them!
This is an important point. It’s not necessary to share your goals with the outside world. I prefer to share mine with a select group of people who I know can support me and help me to achieve my goals. Many people would laugh at me if I told them my goals. But then I remember all the people who laughed at me when I was a 14-year-old kid in Dundalk and I told them I was going to play for Ireland. Maybe it’s a weakness, but I take satisfaction in proving people wrong. Not necessarily because of them, but because in proving them wrong, I prove something to myself. I prove that I was right to believe in myself and to dedicate myself to achieving my goals.
It’s the same now when I’m recording my videos – yes, it can look lame walking around talking to a camera which I’ve pointed at myself, and sometimes people laugh at me. Do you think they’d be laughing if someone like Casey Neistat (YouTuber) was doing it?
But then I remember… people did laugh at him.
They’re not laughing now, though.