When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? Was it an astronaut, soaring through outer space and discovering new worlds? Was it a doctor, healing others and sharing knowledge? Or was it a singer, spreading happiness with your voice?
As you’ve gotten older, have you shelved that dream? Usually, as we go through life, we gain experiences, meet people, and learn lessons that teach us that a certain dream might not be for us, or that we’re better off directing our energy to something else. We fall in line because we feel we are supposed to. We stop dreaming because we feel we are no longer allowed.
During The Last Lecture, Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch, who had received a terminal cancer diagnosis prior to his lecture, flips the script on what we believe to be true. His message is simple: dream big and dream often. This is his last lesson.
In order to truly get behind the concept of dreaming big, we have to allow ourselves the grace and privilege of failing. This isn’t failing like we know it — this is failure as a stepping stone to success. If we can think of the worst thing to happen if we go after our dreams, and if we can overcome it, then we’ve already won. The idea of failure can’t hold any importance if we see it as just another outcome. But where our focus lies, where our focus really has room to shine, is on the idea of success. And the best way for us to turn that success into reality is simply to dream.
By dreaming and, by extension, doing, we allow ourselves the opportunity to overcome obstacles in new ways. Think about it. If we never venture outside of our bubble, how will we know what is and what isn’t possible? As long as we keep sight of our dream while we work towards it, then there is little reason as to why we won’t succeed. And even if we don’t, who’s to say the obstacles we overcome won’t steer us in a bigger, better direction?
This is the power of dreaming: it allows us to believe. And with belief, we can accomplish anything. This is what Pausch meant when he said we can truly achieve our childhood dreams. It isn’t necessarily about being the astronaut or the doctor or the singer; it’s about the ability to see yourself as either of them. It’s about the ability to believe that you are deserving of enjoying your life, and enjoying your life in a position that you truly want.
In addition to that, Pausch talks about really achieving your dreams by striving to have fun no matter what. There’s so much truth to this idea. If you really think about having fun at what you enjoy, you are already creating the idea that it is possible to be emotionally and realistically fulfilled by a dream. You are already bringing this dream into the forefront.
The Last Lecture is about how to live your best life. Dream big, dream often, and embrace your goals. What dreams have you left to the wayside? Maybe it’s time to dust them off and take a closer look.