If this handicap defined a club, it would be a pretty big club. It starts in childhood, when we all realize we want to be just like our childhood heroes - most of whom are not exactly heroic by any definition. Quiz a classroom full of grade schoolers about what they want to be when they grow up, and chances are you're going hear answers like doctor, lawyer, professional athlete, actress, vet, chemist, and artist rather than middle manager, cell phone salesperson, waiter, accountant, or even programmer.
Most of us end up with the latter kind of life, and that's fine. I'm certainly not unique in sabotaging myself, and following big dreams can mean following a long, difficult road. Plus, most of us eventually come to the conclusion that there's nothing wrong with the sweet, simple life.
Still, those big dreams linger. Maybe in different form or maybe exactly as once dreamed. Some of us finally do something about it. Taking beginner ballet in mid-life. Buying a canvas and some paints after not having touched a brush in a decade. Writing that book. This guy graduated from med school at 48. This guy got his pilot's license at 87. Point being, if you're harboring those big dreams, what's stopping you?
Dreams are just smoke without follow-through. At any age and any phase of life.
One thing I want to impress upon my children is that it's never wrong to have monumental life goals. Dream of becoming an actor or a rock star or a scientist or an astronaut! But know what those dreams require of a person.
Know what dreams really mean in practice, beyond fame and fortune and prestige. Understand that doing something amazing requires more than hanging around with a pout on your face until you get "discovered." There are concrete steps a person can take to achieve almost anything. What are they? Find out, then focus on Step 1. Big dreams can take years to achieve - and sometimes the realization of dreams requires great sacrifice.
Don't be afraid of that sacrifice, whether it means giving up a few evenings a week to practice Italian or giving up a steady job to start a business or giving up years to gain the expertise necessary to become an instrument of change. Practice, practice, practice. And then know that there are so many more ways to realize a dream beyond what we see in the media.
No matter what, though, you must act. Action makes dreams come alive; waiting is the death of dreams.
Here's my challenge for everyone reading this:
Let's make 2013 a year for DOING, even if it means falling flat on our faces. What have you always dreamed of achieving but never felt capable of trying? I'm ready; are you?