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An open letter to those who don’t have any dreams and goals in life

Ever feel like a car stuck in neutral?

Even worse: feel like a car stuck in neutral with no road in front of you?

You can’t move forward, and if you could, you wouldn’t know where to go.

I’ll be honest with you: I’ve been there. I’ve been at the crossroads of life, unable to figure out how to move forward.

What helped me was figuring out my passion. 

So if you’ve found yourself thinking “I don’t have any dreams or aspirations,” you’ve come to the right place.

I’ll show you how to start dreaming again!

Why don’t I have any dreams?

I’m not talking about dreams while you sleep — I’m talking about dreams for your future.

I’m talking about daydreams, goals, and aspirations.

So, you’ve found yourself completely devoid of dreams for your future. Why is that? And what can you do to change that?

Why do you think you don’t have any dreams?

I’m gonna turn this one around on you. Why do you think you don’t have any dreams?

Ask yourself that. And be honest with yourself in your answer. Maybe the answer is: because I am perfectly content with where I am. 

If that’s the truth, then all power to you — tell me your secret!

But, if the answer is, “well, my parents planned out my life for me, and now I don’t know what to do,” then you’ve got a bit more of a complicated task. You need to figure out who you truly are if you’re going to then begin to dream.

You’ve been living under the expectations of society

You’re not a robot who’s been programmed to do what others tell you to. You’re a human being with your wants, needs, and desires.

Unfortunately, society has its own expectations for us. Occasionally, these expectations can override our desires. When this happens, we stop dreaming and start obeying.

We, in effect, become robots to society.

Did you come from a family where your college was decided before you were born? Where your sports were chosen for you, your friends chosen for you, your entire life dictated down to at?

Then, when you’re finally set out into the world without a family to demand what you do next, you suddenly feel lost in an endless ocean of possibilities?

What you’re experiencing is a personal awakening. You’ve awakened to the fact that your life has been lived for someone else.

While it’s a jarring feeling, it’s a positive step toward taking control of your life.

Embrace the uncertainty. It’s the first step toward growth.

You lack motivation

People have goals and dreams because they want to change something. This desire to change is a form of motivation. 

What’s motivation? It’s the desire to do something.

Not having any dreams or ambitions is a symptom of lacking motivation. To develop your goals and dreams, you need to improve your motivation — your desire to do something.

How do you do that?

One of the easiest steps you can take is to simply examine your life and think about which areas of your life you wish to change. 

Don’t like your career? Why is that? Examine it! Dig down to find out the root cause.

Maybe it turns out that you do like your career, you just don’t like your boss. Great! You’ve found something to change.

All you need to do, now, is to look for your same job at a different company.

Don’t like your apartment? Why is that? Is it because of your neighborhood? The layout? The city itself?

Whatever it is, nail down the problem as specifically as you can. Once you have a clear vision of the problem, you may find that you’ll become increasingly motivated to remedy it.

You’re overwhelmed

Are you familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? It’s a pyramid that shows the needs that humans try to meet. It’s layered with basic needs at the bottom (food, shelter) and self-fulfillment needs at the top (achieving your potential).

Here’s the kicker: you can’t complete the top of the pyramid without finishing the bottom.

You’re not going to be busy trying to learn a foreign language if you’re struggling to find a new home. No! You’ll spend your energy focusing on getting shelter.

If you’re down on yourself because you can’t figure out your passion, it’s time to examine how well your more fundamental needs are being met.

Are you in a stable living environment? Do you have secure access to food, water, and utilities? Is your neighborhood safe? Are you and your immediate family healthy?

If the answer to any of those is “no,” then cut yourself some slack! You’ve got critical needs to handle. Focus on securing the basic needs, then worry about working your way up the pyramid.

Once your life is in balance, you’ll rediscover your dreams.

You’re treating yourself poorly

This piggybacks on the hierarchy of needs, but it’s worth examining. You need to treat your body well if you want your brain to function.

Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating a proper diet? Are you exercising?

If you’re treating your body poorly, it’s going to act sluggish. Not getting enough sleep can impair your body like drinking too much alcohol.

Think about how hard it is to formulate a coherent game plan when you’ve had too much to drink. That’s what you’re doing to your body if you’re not getting enough sleep.

So get some rest, eat well, and get exercising. You’ll thank me.

You’re living in the past

Dreams are about the future. You can’t dream about the future if you’re stuck living in the past.

If you’re haunted by past failures (real or perceived), then you’re going to have a difficult time ordering your life around what will happen, instead of what did happen. 

The solution is to accept the past as a teaching tool that will inform your future dreams and decisions.

Sure you completely bombed that sales pitch. And that sucked! No one’s saying it didn’t.

But that failure doesn’t define you. Take a moment to think about what went wrong with the pitch. Was it faulty equipment? Were you too nervous? Did the pitch not take into account a client’s new performance?

Whatever it is, accept it and then learn from it. Test the a/v ahead of time. Drink less coffee beforehand. Double-check your figures.

Now get back on that horse and try again!

You’re procrastinating

I’m a terrible procrastinator. And I don’t know why (hey, that’s probably a good article to write in the future…sometime…later).

But, according to The New York Times, procrastination is a result of us trying to cope with the negative feelings that arise from attempting certain tasks (like anxiety, boredom, and frustration). When we put off the task, we feel better in the short-term (yay), but end up increasing our anxiety and self-doubt in the long-term (uh-oh).

What we end up with is a situation where the procrastination makes it even harder to start the task, because it feels so impossible, because we have been putting it off for so long. 

It’s a toxic mix.

The good news is that just getting started on the task can alleviate those feelings of anxiety. Once you complete the task, you gain confidence and a sense of accomplishment.

So you’re having trouble figuring out your ambitions. Do you maybe have a few major tasks that you’ve been putting off? If so, now’s the time to tackle them. Reducing their mental weight will free your brain up to think more about your passions.

How can I dream again? How can I find my passion?

We’ve taken a good, solid look at why you might not have any dreams, but how can you begin to dream again?

Here are some steps that you can take to find your passion.

Ask yourself some questions

So you think you don’t have a passion? I’m here to tell you that you just might — but you simply don’t know it. Asking yourself these questions can help you cut through the confusion.

What did you love to do as a kid?

Think back to when you were in school: what was your favorite subject? What were the clubs that you couldn’t wait to go to when the bell rang?

What was your favorite activity to do during the summer?

I’m sure you’ll come up with some answers. Now, you may not think that they’re all realistic passions, but we’re not looking to narrow things down yet. The first step is simply to reconnect with what you loved.

It’s ok if what you love doesn’t lead to a career — you don’t need to define your passion in economic terms. You can simply love an activity without it bringing you monetary success.

Figure out what you used to love, and give it another go!

What do you love to talk about?

What’s that one thing that you can ramble about for hours? The topic that you catch yourself yammering about mid-date and go “oops, I’m probably boring you.”

Whatever that topic is, it’s clearly important to you. Examine why that is. What about that topic do you find so interesting?

Keep exploring. What’s important is that you continue to dig into that topic, even if it doesn’t feel realistic at first.

What do you read about?

Maybe you’re not the chatterbox, but you’re a voracious reader. Is there a specific topic that you find yourself obsessively reading about?

Maybe it’s politics. Maybe it’s 19th-century whaling. Maybe it’s absurdist comedy.

Again, just humor yourself and dig into it. Allow yourself to be immersed in what you enjoy. Your passion will organically flow from it.

What are you good at?

It’s true that what you excel at doesn’t always equal your “passion,” but it’s worth examining your strengths. When you’re very talented at something, people will often look to you as an expert. Experts can demand higher pay. Higher pay = financial freedom. Financial freedom = more time to make yourself a more well-rounded individual.

What problems can you fix?

Here’s one that’s a little more selfless. Look around at your neighborhood, your workplace, your community, or your city. What problems do you see?

Do you think that you could provide a solution to any of those problems?

Corey Fleischer found his passion when he noticed a disturbing amount of hate-graffiti in his hometown. He had the tools to remove the graffiti, so he simply decided to take action and remove the hate.

Now, 9 years later, he’s created a worldwide movement called Erasing Hate.

Get healthy

Get your eight hours of sleep a day. Get to the gym when you can. And start eating food that’s good for your body and your brain.

I understand that not everyone’s schedules + work allow them to fully realize these goals, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot make an effort to become more healthy. Even squeezing in a 10-minute walk or gaining another 30 minutes of shuteye can radically improve your physical and mental health.

Think about where your life is currently heading

Look at your present situation. Now, imagine what your life will be like in five years if you don’t make any changes.

Is it what you want? Are you happy with that outcome?

If you’ve thought “I don’t have any goals,” then the answer will probably be “no.”

Examine that “no.” Why is it that your future isn’t a happy one?

Figure out what exactly is that fulcrum of unhappiness, and then backtrack to the present. Then, examine the ways that you can make changes to ensure that piece of unhappiness does not come to fruition.

Figure out your priority

That’s a priority in the singular.

We hear all the time “get your priorities together,” “our priorities are…”

No. Priority means “something given or meriting attention before other competing alternatives.”

To me, this signifies that “priorities” is impossible. You can’t have “many things” given attention before “competing alternatives.”

We are linear creatures. We can only work on one task at a time. That task, by default, is the priority.

So I want you to figure out your priority. Not your “priorities.”

What is the one, singular priority for you? What is the one thing that you want to give your attention to before anything else?

Once you’ve figured that out, you can begin identifying the necessary steps to make that priority a reality.

Set a goal

Once you have a priority, it’s time to figure out how to make that into a reality.

The way you do this is through setting goals. These goals function as steps that you can take that will ultimately lead to your priority coming to fruition.

Daunted? Divide your goals up into smaller goals.

Say that your priority is to have a well-paying job.

Your goal is to get a job that pays better than your current job.

Your smaller goals could be:

  • redo your resume
  • Fix your LinkedIn
  • Apply to five jobs a day
  • Go to one networking event a week

This way, you create a logical, followable blueprint to achieve success. It’s not a mysterious, magical process. It’s breaking it down into actionable steps and then following through.

Seek outside help

Humans are social creatures. We’re not meant to go through life on our own. When it comes to figuring out your passion, it can be prudent to bring in outside help.

That outside help can take the form of talking with a friend, speaking with a mentor, or going to therapy.

Each of these can offer valuable advice and guidance to help get your life on track.

Looking for something a little more dynamic? 

Contemporary Shaman Ruda Iande has a free masterclass all about taking control of your life.

I took this masterclass when I was having a hard time seeing my path forward, and I came away with a profound sense of confidence in my inner strength.

In Personal Power, Ruda Iande shows you how to improve your self-image, remove limiting beliefs, and transform your life.

In short, Ruda teaches you how to access the power that you have native to yourself.

If you’re still unsure how to find your passion, give Personal Power a watch. You’ll be amazed.

Conclusion: you can dream again

When you first realize “I don’t have any dreams or passions,” it can be a scary thought.

However, it’s actually a great place to be. Why? Because you’ve realized that you need to make a change. You’ve awakened to the reality that you were living your life for someone else.

Now, it’s your chance to live your life for yourself.

Take some time to get to know yourself. Dive into what you enjoy doing. Figure out your priority. You have a passion — it’s just been squirreled away.

It’s up to you to do the proper digging to unearth it.

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Nathan Dennis

Written by Nathan Dennis

Nathan Dennis is a Manhattan based playwright and poet of Floridian extraction. A graduate of NYU Tisch Department of Dramatic Writing, he served as a Rita and Burton Goldberg Fellow, and was awarded Outstanding Writing for the Stage in Spring of 2015. His most recent play, Lord of Florida, was workshopped by PrismHouse Theatre Company in the Fall of 2017.

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