Whether from a childhood mentor, a speech at the Oscars, or that poster hanging in the office collecting dust, one phrase is repeated to us over and over throughout our lives – “Follow Your Dreams”.  But what exactly does that mean?

Does it mean that if you are reading this while sitting at a job you don’t enjoy or looking around at the laundry and dishes piling high that you aren’t following your dreams? Because seriously, who dreams about waking up and dedicating their time and energy to things that they don’t feel any type of self-gratification from?

Most dreams and goals, at the core, involve envisioning yourself doing something that makes you feel good. Whether it makes you feel important, special, content or validated – our dreams are the only place we can go to escape from our reality when we feel that empty feeling of failure. That feeling in the pit of our stomachs that tells us there is something else out there that we should be doing. That if we could just reach that euphoric point, everything would be better.

But what if that’s the problem? When we think of following our dreams, we envision an end point. A finish-line. A state of bliss that we ‘made it’ and all of our hard work and dedication have paid off. We see those actors and actresses on the big stage, receiving their awards, and we think to ourselves “Now, that’s someone who is following their dreams.” But what we forget is that they go home afterwards. They return to their day-to-day lives, inside their own heads. They are just people, like us. They have days where they are just going through the motions, waiting for that next moment of validation. And wondering if they are making the right decisions and staying aligned with their ‘dreams’.

Follow Your Dreams. Do you see yourself as a famous athlete, wealthy business-person, an actor or a writer? Do you want to be a better parent, child or spouse? A friendlier neighbor or an overall happier person? No matter what our goals and ambitions are, all we can do is focus on our actions today. Our dreams don’t have to be big and elaborate, they can be as simple as finding joy in every day moments. We don’t have to feel like we have failed in life simply because we are not where we thought we were going to be. Because guess what, you can make a change towards your dreams at any second of every day.

Find comfort and celebrate those small moments when you look around and all is well. Because while the connotation of ‘following your dreams’ implies you need to make a grand gesture and life-altering change, it’s the small every day decisions we make that ultimately decide our internal happiness. So yes, ‘Follow Your Dreams’, but always remember that your dreams can change and you, in turn, will need to change with them.

One of my favorite concepts has always been… happiness is NOT a destination, it’s a way of life.

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Tess Abney was born and raised in the Quad Cities. Her passion for writing and entertainment was apparent at a very young age. Whether it is sharing local events and businesses with readers or sharing her thoughts on life, she finds comfort in the way words can bring people together.