Why 'Follow your Dreams' is bad advice!


You can't be anything you set your mind to, and the world would be a better place if people would stop saying that (and so would your life).

Why Follow your Dreams is bad advice!

Like all things, there's ideal, then there's practical.

We all want the dream life (whatever that means to you) but in reality we end up with something about 1/3rd as a good.

Been there.
Been there.

Often goals we set for ourselves are unachievable. And too ambitious of goals cause a lot of harm.

We can invest too much time and resources into something that 1) isn't worth it if you can't already afford it and 2) disadvantages your life in the process of trying.

Ever know a 'car guy' in high school? He bought a $4,000 project car at 17 and then spent every paycheck on parts for that and then spent all his free time wrenching and in the end the engine blew and he couldn't afford to fix it? Or he's now 20 and the thing rattles and is falling apart due to high miles?

This is what happens when we overreach and try an unsustainable practice of reaching for an unrealistic goal. In the beginning it's okay. Or even good, but long term it wrecks havoc. You're unable to save money. You miss social experiences. You become obsessed. And ultimately, you wear out and break down. You burn out. All that time is lost.

All the while, an alternative more pragmatic path was available. I'm saying we should choose pragmatism over idealism. If it's a reach for you, don't do it. Set realistic and achievable goals that move you only as far as you can handle.

So no, you can't necessarily do whatever you set your mind to. That's okay. It will prevent you from overextending and winding up in a bind.

And yet it sucks to compromise doesn't it?! I hate that feeling. But what's better, ultimately? Being stubborn and refusing to compromise or choosing to set yourself up for long term success and payoff? 🤷🏻

Why 'Follow your Dreams' is bad advice!
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  • DJB72
    Life is like a dollar bill. You can spend it on anything you choose, but you can only spend it once.

    By all means kill your own dreams. Don't reach for the stars. After all, the tallest blade of grass has the most to lose to the lawnmower.

    Your attitude is one that will kill you. Maybe not physically - although the clinical depression that usually accompanies a life devoid of hopes and dreams of something more can easily lead to suicide - but the emotional death of a thousand cuts will hollow you out and make you a shell of what you could be.

    Get a job that allows you to follow your dream outside of what you do to earn money to live.

    Don't follow them blindly, but follow them. Seek them out.

    My grandfather died a few weeks after his 80th birthday. Just before he turned 80 he called me, excited. He had been a Salvation Army Officer for some years before retiring and working as the bandmaster of the local corps. He had just taught himself to play the trombone. He was looking forward to a new experience he felt like he was getting ready for. His dream, or part of it, was to be able to play all the instruments in the Salvation Army Band. He'd followed it from the age of 14 until he died, learning the cornet, trumpet, trombone, tuba, French horn, various percussion instruments and a couple of other brass instruments I can't name. It kept him young.

    If you read my other answers you'll know I almost died last year. My heart stopped. I had dreams I'd put to one side years ago. Learning to fly. Certain career decisions.

    To save my life, my right foot was amputated.

    I woke up from a 3 month coma needing to decide if I was going to die with both feet or live with only one.

    The operative word is "Live". I'm retraining. Once I've finished training my next step is learning to drive again. Then I'm going to learn to fly. Simple as that.
    Is this still revelant?
    • DJB72

      Thanks for the MHO. Must say, didn't expect it on this one

  • 007kingifrit
    the trick is to follow your opportunities not your dreams. and become passionate about what you have
    Is this still revelant?
    • TheEpoch

      This explaines it so well!!! Like what you do, enjoy where you end up, be grateful for everything.

    • Robertcw

      @TheEpoch Yeah. I think this is essentially what I was trying to say but didn't know how fully. The limitations of capitalism are supply and demand, meaning we can't all do what we want because people will only pay for things they want to pay for. We don't have individual control over what is in demand and what isn't, and that limits the number of things we can do for a living.

      Those limitations are what limit and also create realistic opportunities. Because otherwise we get stuck trying to force something that isn't in demand, and as result wind up poor struggling etc.

      Life is too short for that. And that's the other part. I think 27 is a wake up call for me. Aging forces people to accept that their time has run out for thing etc and that changes what they're willing to accept or not accept.

      Lifetimes are a crazy thing. Mortality changes a person's life outlook in many ways. People can only bide their time for so long before it isn't biding anymore. Biding time through the early 20's is one thing (and probably a bad thing), but it is entirely different in the late 20's in my opinion.

      Grey hairs have really changed my entire outlook and philosophy on life. The realities of mortality and aging, as well as the loss of opportunities for romance and sexual lust among people who are young and all of that makes living a life of struggling not worth it at all unless the struggling comes from a result of making the most of your opportunities and time already.

      Being a single parent, for example, I think is worth the struggle. Being a single childless starving artist trying to force something that people don't want, I don't think that's worth it. Following opportunities to the max and compromising in mentally mature ways is the way, I think.

    • supply and demand isn't a law of capitalism @Robertcw its a rule of life. all systems are limited by what they can produce and who wants those things

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • tatianamay
    My dream is to become a psychiatrist who would be able to help people, and honestly, if I work hard and put in hard work and dedication, I can achieve it. Sounds like you couldn’t achieve your dreams. Often, dreams should be realistic to achieve
    • Robertcw

      Many people do become psychiatrists. I'd say that is a reasonable goal if you are good at school and get good grades and are able to make it all the way to graduate school without failing out.

      It entirely depends on if you are a good student or not. If so, then psychiatry is a great career. But if not, you could spend many years and tens of thousands of dollars to wind up with nothing.

      Use your high school grades as a way to determine if you like school enough to stick through medical school or not. Especially chemistry and math. You'll need those to get into med school, realistically speaking.

    • you're 16 you don't know what you can and can't achieve

    • tatianamay

      @007kingifrit Well, I think that's what I have to figure out. I do know what I want, that is to become a psychiatrist and help people. My dream is realistic. This is my dream and if i work hard, Im confident that I'll achieve it :)

  • InventorofWarp
    This is really just a load of horseshit and you know it.
    I'm not even gonna bother to give you some success stories that I know about because it wouldn't fucking do anything to someone with a defeatist mindset who just wants to make excuses as to why things can't be done or achieved.
    Fucking stupid horseshit like this that really ruins the internet.
    • Robertcw

      I don't know, following a dream to the point of becoming something like a starving artist seems like a bad outcome to me. Hating your job but having enough money and resources to survive and live well is still better that chasing a dream in destitution I think.

      There's a balance there. I think maturity has to do with accepting constraints of society.

    • Why are those the only two options?
      Honestly you just sound like someone who really fucking hates their life and gave up on something.
      Hopefully you find whatever it is you're looking for.

  • exitseven
    Yes. I wasted a lot of time pursuing a few different dreams. Now i realize those jobs are usually given to politician's kids and other connected people. Although I was friends with somebody who always said he wanted to play for the NFL. He was tall, maybe 6'3 but was really skinny. I never thought he would make it but he took a year off after high school and went to a training facility and in one year he got a scholarship to a good college and then went to the pros.
  • kmg9150
    Dude this about the shittiest advice you can prolly give to someone. So if your in the woods with just your underwear hunted by a pack of inbred molesting individuals you would apparently see your goal of getting the hell out as too ambitious and give your tush for push wouldn't you.

    What your telling people is to become drones that are automated into an already thoughtless media lobotomized society. Good advice. I like how your dreams only include sports, art, wonder land, fame... apparently there's some resentment in those areas because you failed to accomplish you goals that you gave up on...

    Fact is those aren't everyones goals, it shows that society has already washed your sense away to think thats what people dream of. Some people do want to be that high school teacher or P. E coach, daycare provider, mailman, manager at your favorite eatery jack ass in the box. You must be a left wing vote recruiter because they love those who like to conform and have minimal confidence.

    Fact is if everyone followed your reckless, self loathing process of non intelligible thought, you wouldn't have close half of what you so in your life. No smart phone to display ignorance, the opportunity to fail at achieving the goals you once had, the mode of transportation to get to the miserable job that might not exist if no one ever followed a goal or dream.. The problem is giving up when a temporary setback presents itself. Like going to college and not having a strategy in place to obtain that job that may have less demand and high supply of applicants. Its dont give up and set a new goal to stand out in the front of the others.

    You need therapy from passion work dream seeker to get passed the anchor thats drags you down and those around you. Thats good advice. Best luck to
  • nolabels
    I think that the level of passion that a person may bring to a particular endeavor makes a huge difference as to whether they'll ultimately be successful at it or not.

    Regarding your chart showing the high percentage of students who are passionate about certain careers versus the low number of job opportunities for those types of careers, an extremely passionate person would look at that chart and say to themselves, "Either one of those jobs is going to be mine, or I'm going to create my own business in that particular market."
    Then they'd set off figuring out a way to make that happen, never look back, and most likely will be successful in their chosen field.

    If a person is only mildly passionate about something in a market that has many contenders for a limited number of existing opportunities, of course their chances of succeeding in their chosen field are going to be slim.
    The people who have a higher level of passion are going to fight for those limited opportunities.

    A person needs to weigh their level of passion against the foreseeable demand for recruits in their chosen field.
    If they can honestly judge their own level of passion and find it to be lacking to a degree where they may not have the will to compete in that market, maybe they better give up on that dream, and settle on something less risky.

    As the old saying goes, "That's why they call work, 'work'. You don't necessarily want to do it, but you have to."

    It's the highly passionate people who get to do what they really want to do in life, and that's just the way it is.

    The rest of the people train for jobs that will sustain them, and then go on to 'work' for a living.

    What is the ratio of people who can say that they never 'work' a day in their lives because they've been able to market their passions, versus those who slog to 'work' all their lives?
    It is a huge ratio, huge.

    That's why us mere 'mortals', if you will, marvel at those individuals who seem to never have to 'work' a day in their lives. They're highly passionate about what they do in life.

    So yes, you have to know yourself before trying to leap to the stars.

    Sorry to say, the odds are way against you.
  • Soremain
    I agree. Much better advice is "Follow your passion". Because those are very different things. Every kid dreams of being a rockstar, professional athlete, movie star, pro gamer, streamer etc. But not many of them are actually passionate about playing an instrument, training, acting, getting better at gaming, being natural entertainer. Most people dream for the wrong reasons. They want the glory, money and lifestyle but don't have the genuine passion/talent for the thing itself.

    But even when you say follow your passion, it still doesn't mean you should quit everything else, you just cut down the time you spend on watching tv or other time wasting things.

    But even this advice is meaningless, because the people who are passionate enough to make living out of their passion, will do it anyway and they won't listen to anyone's advice. They'll not quit just because someone says "it's probably not going to happen". If you quit because of what others say, you weren't going to make it anyway.
  • Floppy2112
    Life isn't set up for ease and luxury, it's hard scrabble. Life is unfair, merciless, pitiless, and mean. It doesn't care about your feelings. The problem is if everybody 'followed their dreams', no one would take out the trash, clean a toilet or do any of the things that make life possible, espcially in the city. Some people will succeed amazingly and others will die in a ditch. You can try for your dreams, but not at the expense of real opportunity that may take you in a different direction, that's how you end up in the ditch. Life is a compromise and you cannot have it all. The point isn't to do a job you love the point is to do the job you have with dignity and pride and learn to be the best at it. Then your opportunities will grow.
    Very few people in life will get to do what they love. And a lot goes into that, not the least of which is 'luck' whatever that is. Because you can do everything right and end up wrong. You can do everything your are supposed to do, but without the turn of a friendly card now and then, you will go nowhere.
    So I say, if you are young, sure, reach for the stars but not at the expense of opportunities that arise during that journey. Manage your risk and don't ignore opportunities that come your way that may lead you astray. Being stubborn can lead you into a ditch.
    You have trade offs, risk little get little. Risk a lot and you can get a lot, or lose it all. I think it's fine to reach, but don't sell your soul for it or you may find yourself an empty, unhappy husk of a person.
  • Ellie-V
    I understand. But I took the idealistic path and I am getting the things I want, coming from an underprivileged background with no money. Maybe I’m an exception but even in my position I wouldn’t tell people to just not pursue their dreams. I think it’s better to educate people on their chances and present to them the sacrifices they are going to have to make. Rather than minimizing their goals, people should just be more aware of what the journey is going to be like.
  • FĂ˝rdracaDĂłcincel
    I can't help but allow my attention to be drawn to that chart at the top.

    You can follow your passion without making it your primary source of income if you're comfortable with certain living conditions.

    Those people who are passionate about things but don't have jobs in those things probably still do those things on the side.
  • BeenThereLovedIt
    Truth is that the majority of wealthy kids end up majoring in business/finance or politics/law because that's where the money is.

    They tell you to "follow your dreams" because they know it's a failing motto and they need someone to bus their tables and take their orders. If you are stupid enough to go for liberal arts, then you are smart enough to clean their mansion.
  • Adam1978
    Actually most people can achieve most things as long as it's not be ranked high compared to everyone else because that clash. But the price they have to pay and effort is usually not worth it. There is a reason human postpone things that feel like to much work.
  • Uptowngirl88
    Why don't you work on you? Sounds like you're disappointed in yourself. Just because you're seen as a failure to yourself, family and friends doesn't mean you have to project these feelings onto us.
  • ARealHonestHuman
    Even so. Following my dreams is selling clothes. This post isn't tell me its bad. Its felling me giving up so fast is better than the hard lessons you'll make before the business is actually good. We all start from the bottom to get to the top. No one starts at the top n makes it 100 times better. You learn, you execute with the knowledge you learned.

    I keep following my dreams sir. You do what you want. Im making myself happy and thats better than feeling like crap.
  • Browneye57
    Well aren't you a kill-joy.
    While there's some reality to this, people DO need to and SHOULD pursue that which they aspire to. That which interests them. But have options, backup plans, alternates, so if the pie-in-the-sky doesn't work out you're not lost.
  • RolandCuthbert
    Haha! This take made me laugh.

    Uhm. . . you do you. I don't know why you think what works for you should work for other people. If I didn't follow my dreams I would have not spent the last two weeks traveling from the U. S. to Germany, to Ukraine, to Austria and finally to Montenegro.

    So folks, it is up to you. Shoot for the stars and fall a little bit short if you don't make it.

    Or just be a janitor. Your choice.Why 'Follow your Dreams' is bad advice!Why 'Follow your Dreams' is bad advice!Why 'Follow your Dreams' is bad advice!
  • rachel776
    i followed my parents' dreams for me and now i have the greatest job in the world. it was hard getting here tho
  • Coulis
    Hold up! Why can't my man wash the dishes for me and bring me flowers? He doesn't have to do both at the same time but why do I have to pick between dishes and flowers?
  • ChrisMaster69
    Nah I believe in pushing to the limits and beyond.

    if you face the fact of looking at how realistic a dream is, then research it, you then decide with an overview from someone else if it’s achievable.

    variables are the key, any dream with too many or too complex variables hugely increases the risk.

    everyone should have short range medium and long range plans.

    also, not just a single goal, but ones that link together or just a number of different ones.

    low risk dreams and high risk dreams
  • bamesjond0069
    I mean lots of people have retarded dreams. So maybe not dont go for your dreams but double check if they are realistic and then second if you're willing to do the work. If no to either do something else. Its called due diligence.
  • Andres77
    Following my dream changed my life.
    I lived it.
    It worked for me.
    It was the best advice I ever received as a young adult.

    I tell people that all the time and I back it up with my success story.

    I didn't compromise. I looked at my dream through the lens of reality and made it happen.

    1. Dream within the realm of the possible.
    2. A vision without a plan is just a dream.
    3. Make a plan! Be patient.
    (Plan the dive, dive the plan).
    4. If you know doctrine you can deviate from doctrine (educate yourself before you start!).

    Every great effort and success started as an idea. Don't destroy someone's dreams before they start. Empower them with hope and practicality.

    "Live your dreams" is great advice... as long as you're able to help them with the first steps.
  • Jonny59
    depends I follow my dreams , yes they are not the way I want them but I feel something that I like it and I keep pushing pushing and the end i will get my results
  • 420Rachel
    Haha I had many dreams as a child/teenager. I wanted to be a vet, a paleontologist, an astrophysicist, and an exotic animal trainer. 😂 Ultimately I decided I simply wanted a job where I could genuinely help people. So I am about to start school for sonography and become an ultrasound tech. I think we all like to dream big when we're young but as we grow into adulthood our wants and expectations become more practical. I think it's just fine to have your main career and then invest yourself into your interests and passions on the side. I enjoy reading and watching videos about animals, dinosaurs, and space! So my interests have remained the same.
  • Dchrls78104
    Interesting take. I sense a certain disillusionment. This world is indeed a cruel place, and seems to be getting worse and harder to live in by the day.
  • Gry_Odegaard
    I think we should try to get more people interested in STEM fields
    • AdithyaR

      Oh you should see India where most people only respect STEM fields and 90% of students go into it.

    • The issue is also in India there are less available careers in STEM

      How as in the west generally we can barely fill those positions

    • AdithyaR

      Yep, too many people here are kinda forced into that career so there's not enough jobs to go around.

  • ChiTown33
    stepping. Parents raised me to have 2 dreams. 1 reaching for the stars and one planted firmly in reality. I think I did ok.
  • siseñor

    instead of saying how pointless everyone's dreams r & how the only thing they'll lead to is disappointment, i'd rather just work my ass off & see where it gets me

    i remember reading a story where a lady said to a girl that if she were to enter the competition she'd have more of a chance at winning than if she didn't

    ik it's rlly happy-go-lucky but i think pragmatism shldn't be used as an excuse to lower the bar for yourself. some people can do it, the difference between u & them is that they don't give up - or 'overextend' themselves as you put it. look at people like david goggins
  • stri_dante
    i agree. many children are brought up with cheesy ideas of what relationships and the world are, only to be disappointed in the end.

    the higher the climb, the harder the fall.
  • Anpu23
    Why 'Follow your Dreams' is bad advice!"I have not failed, I have found 1000 ways not to make a light bulb." Thomas Edison I tell you as a fact those who say it can't be done are showing you their limitations not yours. I came from nothing, and made my first million before I was 25. I lost it within a year. But I am well on my way to my second million. But this time I will keep it. Most entrepreneurs fail multiple times before their first success. You act as if failure is final, it is not. It us a step towards success. And even if you don't reach your goal you will have died following your dreams.
  • Feelicks
    It's interesting because most entrepreneurs are impractical creative people.

    Without dreamers society wouldn't advance.
    • Robertcw

      With one asterisk. All those entrepreneurs come from highly conventional households.

      Zuckerburg's father was a dentist. He famously said, "I started facebook because I knew [since my dad was rich] if it failed, I would be fine."

      Same for Gates and Jobs, both come from wealthy families or guardians in expensive areas. Most if not all entrepreneurs are the same way. And in particular, the young ones.

      Those who come from poverty have to first take care of their own needs first before trying to launch something extra, and the needs of their families too if they fall in love young (and you/they should do that).

      Musk famously said that being an entrepreneur was like 'chewing on glass'. And that he almost went bankrupt multiple times in his life after buying Tesla. by the way he didn't found Tesla, those guys took on an ever bigger risk than musk was willing to take on.

    • Feelicks

      Musk inhereted an emerald mine, not exactly humble beginnings

    • zagor

      Hmm, the wealthy entrepreneur I knew of grew up on welfare with his mother and sister because his Dad split when he was 7. He is now a quarter-billionaire.

  • Joker_
    It's bad advice because nobody ever actually takes it
  • es20490446e
    What fulfills a person is mundane things, but executed extraordinarily.
  • ThePolishKnight37
    You can achieve anything, but most people do not want to work that hard, or give up at the first sign of of failure. Ask anyone that got there, nothing was handed to them. it is great advice if you put your heart and soul into it. Take a gentleman named Hunter Renfro. read his story and look at where he is now. If you saw him on the street you would think he was nothing special. But he worked and believed and that is why he is where he is today. A four year starter and three time College football champion for Clemson and now is the starting wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders and he is Carr's go to guy. He was told he would not make it. He worked his ass off to get there.
  • Abdulwahh
    With following your dreams you need to rationalise your emotions
  • msc545
    All these people with all these silly anecdotes about how "so and so made it" are simply proving your point.
  • malwins
    How is it not possible to be in entertainment? It’s an industry like any other
  • NorthwestRider
    Sounds like you hate your life
  • Prideful
    It's a way for humans to strive.
  • Anonymous
    Don't tell that to my best guy friend. In middle school he used to carry around a dream binder. In it, it was filled with pictures of nice cars, nice houses, and places he wanted to travel to. He grew up very poor, and even though his mom had high expectations of him, a lot of people understandably told him these were pipe dreams. He didn't care. He would always talk about the future and what it would be like and his dreams.

    Cut to today, he has 2 degrees, is on his third luxury car, has properties in 2 states, routinely travels the world, and is currently one degree separation from the president of the United States because of who he is married to. He is the very definition of following and fighting for your dreams to come true.
  • Anonymous
    You're wrong. I'm not even gonna explain why because I understand why you would say what you have said. You are right in your thinking with all the current evidence that you have in your head. But I'm telling you, 100% you are wrong. I don't want you to believe me because I have not told you why and will not because you won't understand in one comment and you'll just try to protect your original post which is normal human behavior. But I like your post most people will disagree with you for dumb reasons like their emotions. You're actually a thinker and use your head.
    • Robertcw

      Would have given you the third MHO if I could man. Thanks for the opinion.

  • Anonymous
    Spot on.
    These days if you are gonna choose a job, you can only choose either something practical, which will finance your daily living or something, that won't finance you sufficiently but you'll get to do what you supposedly love doing (whilst not having money to fix your ever declining health).

    I would have turned into a pornstar since I wanted to but reality is fighting against poverty and toxic family with a weekly 40 hours job schedule.
    • Robertcw

      I agree with this, and maybe there is a second layer to this thing. Maybe your family background affects things such that better families offer more freedom to follow bigger dreams and such and more toxic families cut off such opportunities by definition.

    • Anonymous

      True that

  • Anonymous
    It's what you get with this kind of overpopulation that has allowed for millions upon Millions of unemployed people

    I realised as a kid that this was the case so set about employing myself and I do well enough to live comfortably but I followed my dreams but onto the floor of reality as opposed to the floor of fantasy, because even as a kid I found fantasy nauseating to witness