Ever since we were young, our elders always picked us up and told us to ‘follow your dream.’ No matter what it is - poet, doctor, cook, veterinarian or writer - we should always follow the path of where our dreams are. This is a good idea in theory, but not logical in practical reality.
Due to the industrial revolution and significant advancements in technology, children no longer have to coil in the fields and help their families pick potatoes or plant seeds. Since kids no longer have to spend 10 hours a day on farms or in the streets, families encourage their children to pick a career that will satisfy them.
Whenever a family member espouses this idiom, they do so with the best of intentions. As the old saying goes says, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In other words, following your dream may lead to a life of failed hopes and dreams, poverty and hunger, dissatisfaction and depression.
Perhaps times have changed, but unfortunately selecting a ‘follow your dream’ career is no longer a feasible concept. With globalization, automation and fierce labor competition, young people have to opt for skills and expertise that will be in demand in the next 20 to 30 years, and what will be in demand will be any of the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
We are already witnessing the effects of recent college graduates who took general arts degrees and received meaningless diplomas which led to jobs that don’t even require post-secondary education. They may have followed their dreams, but it didn’t lead them anywhere except to more debt, zero savings and returning to the nest.
Years from now, the general consensus of the population will be that the mantra ‘follow your dream’ is in actuality bizarre advice.
Is There a Solution?
It’s rare to find people who have made a steady living doing what they love. It seems there are more individuals working at jobs they detest than at occupations they truly adore and find portentous.
How many people do you know who go to sleep looking forward to getting back to work?
Of course, it’s important to note that life isn’t all about earning a lot of money and having positions of high stature, Remember, you can’t take it with you when you pass on to the other side. So what’s the solution then?
A compromise with yourself.
You may come to realize that sometimes second best is just as good as first best.
If you love to write poetry or pontificate on philosophy but you see a lot of opportunities in international finance then perhaps you can do both. For your full-time, 9 to 5 career you can work in international finance and in your spare time you can pen poetry or espouse the virtues of objectivism.
Bring home the bacon so that in your free time you can concentrate on what really makes you happy. This is truly one of the best compromises to make in modern times.
‘Follow your dream’ isn’t a realistic option these days. Perhaps when we start developing self-creating machines that develop anything you desire then we can begin to follow our dreams. Until then, we may have to juggle our dreams with what creates prosperity.
Unfortunately, the general population is adamant in either fulfilling one’s dreams or being miserable at a job they loathe. The reason for this is because they were constantly urged to follow their dreams without making any substantial sacrifice.
Millennials made this mistake. Now it’s up to our successors, Generation Zers, to learn from our mistakes and learn to balance happiness with efficiency, satisfaction with hard work. Once this is done, then we can all contribute to the economy while doing what we please.