Something has been niggling away at me recently. I keep reading everywhere that we all must Chase your dreams and Don’t give up, you’ll get there, along with other similar clichés, and I don’t think this is right. I feel that treating your aims and aspirations as something you have to ‘chase’ or so hard to achieve you will got through hell together is just plain wrong.

I consider myself very lucky right now. I am living what most people would say is the dream – I recently packed up living and working in London and moved to Chamonix to pursue a more positive work-life balance with my wife. I’m happy. Really happy, but the day we arrived was not day 1 of living the dream, that started long before we even decided to finally move here.

Chasing your dreams can lead you astray

The North Face of the Tour Ronde, a dream peak for Sophie and I

The North Face of the Tour Ronde, a dream peak for Sophie and I

We all dream of perfect places in our lives; maybe a job at a dream company; the dream girl; or dream body that we’re not embarrassed to show off in the park. Dreaming is not only natural but very important – it helps us align our goals, they give us direction, and help us work harder – the problem comes when we start to see our dreams as destinations.

Having a dream as a destination sets this ideal in stone. It is embodied in that poster on the wall, or that postcard on your desk, or even that scent you catch as someone passes by. We then start working towards getting to this destination, focussing on that being our end goal, that getting there will unlock the next stage of our happiness. We make progress or we take a step back, but we are always chasing our dream.

But we change. Life changes and so does the world around us. What once was our ideal might, today, not be the case. I wanted to run a successful startup and live the tech-bubble dream a few years ago. I invested a huge amount in chasing this dream – more than just money. I invested my time, working 16 hour days; I compromised health, not training and eating poorly; I risked my relationship, always placing work first; the list goes on.

Then one day I had had enough. When I finally took a step back and looked at where I was and who I had become, I was so disappointed.While chasing my dream I had neglected me.

The journey is the dream

As I took stock of this roller-coaster of a few years, I evaluated what went wrong, what mistakes did I make, and what was out of my control. I also thought long and hard about what my dreams were, what did I aspire to achieve, and who did I want to be. The disappointment I felt was from not achieving my dream but that was unfair. On the journey I achieved so much more than just that tick at the end and I had every reason to celebrate. I gained incredible experience that rivalled any MBA, I made amazing connections with people who I have both worked with and shared beers with since, and opened up the path into where I am today. Through this I’ve realised what my dream is:

My dream is to be happy.

Right now, my aim is to climb beautiful mountains and work on incredible digital products, this is what is making me so happy right now. Tomorrow I might want to master a new skill or revisit an old past time I’ve neglected. What is important is to keep living my dream: to be happy in what I do and to make sure I look after those I love. I want to achieve great things and inspire those around me as much as they inspire me. I can do all of that. All of us can but we all need to be happy first.

I am inspired by so many people around me; my wife, Challenge Sophie, showing us all how it is done; Jason Rawles, undergoing a massive career change to start an outdoor instruction business; and several people who I don’t feel fair in naming, who inspire me through their strength and resilience while dealing with some incredibly tough times yet still with a smile on their face.

I might not be certain where my current path may take me but, for now, it is exactly where I want to be. If you take the time to look around you, there’s every chance that you are already living your dream.

Make the small changes that put a smile on your face, that give you a buzz and, that you can share with other people.

Then you can stop chasing an ideal as you will truly be living the dream.

by Charley Radcliffe

2 Responses to “Stop Chasing the Dream and Start Living the Dream”

  1. Ross Can

    Great post Charley!

    I agree with all that you say – my dreams in the past have been too specific and often misguided. I thought I wanted to do something, but along the way, found it impossible to achieve. Having a plan to “be happy” is much better, but then the plan to make that happen becomes more complicated!

    Like you, I had a business that bombed. Personally, I’ve been licking my wounds ever-since (do we ever get over it?). The lessons I learnt from it have shaped the person I am today and I know that I need to be more focussed that just simply making things for everyone!

    I agree in that you’ve probably learnt more than an MBA could ever achieve. I don’t think Richard Branson had a book on how to be a happy multi-billionnaire – what he did have was the right people around him and a thirst to make something better – something we can all learn from.

    I’ve got to stop saying “one day I’ll…” and just work towards it – one step at a time!


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