Do what sets your soul on fire. Set your sights higher. Today, everything is scaleable. And not just slightly; I’m talking seriously scalable. Why 10x something when you can 100x it? And in a world full of Mark Zuckerbergs and Tim Ferrisses, I get it.
It’s true that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. It’s true that you should build sandcastles in the sky. I support dreaming big, I really do. But I also think that in an era of big dreams, perhaps the most audacious thing we can do is dream a bit smaller.
If you want to stop personal finance bloggers in their tracks, tell them you’re not interested in retiring early; you just want to have a little extra money and a little more freedom. In my experience, you’ll get an absolute deluge of support. But you’ll also get hypotheticals and reminders that you can change your mind and dream beyond. And you can. And you should. But not always.
I really believe that while people are trying to be the next Tim Ferriss, create the next Tesla, or become the single greatest iteration of themselves that they’re actually passing through some really remarkable territory. And that’s territory worth noticing whether society says so or not.
When I think about what made my nana happiest, it was stories with family, a good meal, or maybe, just maybe, a trip to the casino. As someone who barely made ends meet, she should have dreamt impossible dreams. And she did. But when I think back on her ninety-some years, I see someone who delighted in teaching a grandchild to double dutch or dancing along with starlets in reruns of her favorite movies. She understood celebrity, of course. In fact, she kept up with the Kardashians better than anyone I knew. But she wasn’t out to create a product, build a brand, or shake up the world.
But she made an impact, she added value, and she revolutionized her own world. She would be utterly unremarkable in a history book, but she was transformative for our family and for herself. When I look back at photos of her hunched over coloring books, challenging great-grandchildren and then great-great-grandchildren to stay in the lines better than she could, I see how much she savored those moments. But I don’t know that we ever celebrated them enough, and I’m not sure she did either.
Make no mistake. I wish everyone all the success in the world. Big, hairy, loud, headline-grabbing success. If life has taught me anything, it is that the world is not, for the most part, a zero-sum game. In fact, the success of some should and can benefit many. We need big dreams. We need lofty goals.
We also need to champion, celebrate, and congratulate on a smaller scale.
So maybe you won’t retire as early as you wanted. Maybe you won’t ever retire early. But you take a fantastic vacation, the stuff of dreams, the stuff of fill-the-bucket lists.
Maybe your startup didn’t make Uber look like child’s play. Maybe you never had a startup. But you work hard at a job, always doing your part, supporting your family.
Maybe you never mastered a ketogenic diet. Maybe you don’t even know what ketosis is. But you prioritize your health, eating right, getting outside whenever you can.
Those are victories. Real victories. Even if you never 100x or 10x these moments, they’re victories nonetheless. In a world that makes so much noise about big dreams, remember it’s fine to dream smaller, too. In fact, I dare you.
So Tell Me…Care to share a big dream and a small dream?