Several years ago, a television interviewer asked Sophia Loren the secret of her success. The actress didn’t hesitate for a moment. “I am successful,” she replied, “because I was willing to give up being anonymous.”
It appears that anyone who ultimately achieves their dreams has a clear idea what the trade-off was that was needed to accomplish it. It’s a characteristic often lacking in those who attribute their lack of success to bad breaks, circumstances over which they had no control or lack of money.
Money, in fact, becomes a popular scapegoat in stories about failure.
Most often, however, our dreams are created out of time, not money. In Jean-Louis Servan-Schrieber’s The Art of Time, he makes this startling observation: “We think much more about the use of money, which is renewable, than we do about time which is irreplaceable.”
Here’s the fascinating—thought often overlooked—truth about what we get in life: everything we have, whether we are living our dreams or not, is acquired by making a trade.
We trade our time, our talent, our experience, our attitudes for the lifestyle we create. Sadly, many people also trade in their dreams, settling instead for a less than satisfying life because it may seem easier or quicker to achieve the ordinary.
Nowhere is this more poetically illustrated than in Paulo Coelho’s little gem The Alchemist. The hero of this tale is Santiago, a young Spanish shepherd, who has already traded in his parent’s dream for him of becoming a priest for his own dream of traveling.
Along the way, he encounters a wise man who prods him to achieve his personal destiny. To add motivation, the wise man points out a number of people who traded in their dreams for a seemingly secure life.
One of them is a shopkeeper who resists his lifelong dream of a trip to Mecca. At one point he says to Santiago, “Today, I understand something I didn’t see before: every blessing ignored become a curse. “
What the shopkeeper demonstrates so poignantly is a universal truth. When we trade off our dreams for a lesser life, we are doomed to unhappiness.
On the other hand, if we trade off our fears and doubts for our own dream quest, satisfaction and joy that we have never known before are inevitable.
So is there anything you still need to trade in order to be living your dreams? Since all life is a trade anyway, why avoid what you really want? You’re already spending your time and energy doing something. Make it count.
Don’t you think dreams are a better investment than drudgery?