When your dream comes true, don’t rest on your laurels – get a new dream!
Ray Romano, the star of the TV series, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” had a big show-business dream. He wanted to host “Saturday Night Live.” He held that dream up as his highest aim since he began his career as a stand-up comic. A few years ago that dream came true. He hosted the show, and at the end, when the cast is waving to the audience, Romano shouted out, “I gotta get a new dream.”
I don’t know whether Ray Romano got himself a new dream, but I do know that we all periodically need to get ourselves new dreams. When I started my first business, my dream was quite simple. I wanted to create a business that could support me and my family. My definition of success was not complicated. I wanted to reach the point where I could quit putting money into the business and start taking some out. I wanted to reach the point where I was fairly certain that I wouldn’t have to start looking for a job tomorrow.
When you start your first business, it’s difficult to sustain a dream that’s more complicated than survival. You can daydream about the business doing extremely well, but when it comes down to it, you really just want to make sure you can cover payroll next week. That simple assurance goes a long way toward allowing you a good night’s sleep.
But after ten years of making payroll almost every time, that dream wears thin and you need to get yourself a new dream. My new dream – I wanted to be a writer – came with complications. First I had to unburden myself of my old dream of building a publishing company. Selling that first company took a couple years. Getting the new dream up and running took another four or five years. But they were good years, filled with satisfying struggles.
My second dream was essentially a purer form of my first dream. I wanted to be self-supporting, but this time I wanted to accomplish that by doing what I most loved doing. My second dream was on my own terms rather than terms that satisfy the world. Sometimes it can take ten years of serving your first dream before you get a good clear look at the contours of your next dream.
I knew that my second dream had to provide a different way to spend my day. Henry David Thoreau said that in order to improve your life, you have to improve the quality of your day. In pursuing my second dream, I focused on what I wanted to do each day. I had spent ten years stretching my capabilities. In my second dream, I wanted to consolidate those capabilities and focus on what I enjoyed and what came naturally. I asked myself, what do I like doing? What do I dislike doing? How can I create a livelihood based on what I like doing?
And when that second dream came true, it was time to come up with new dreams. How do I want to spend my day now compared to how I have been spending my day these past few years? Now that I’ve stretched and consolidated, where are my strongest talents? So you create yet a newer dream that better serves your abilities and serves those things in your life that you love. The new dream doesn’t end difficulties. But it means the difficulties you struggle to overcome land you in the place you most want to be.
I don’t believe the need for dreams is optional. If you achieve your dream, you really must find a new dream to keep your life fresh. How many executives, entertainers and artists have you seen who satisfy their dreams then grow bitter as that dream grows old? A new dream can keep your life juicy. The new dream blows fresh energy into your world. The new dream keeps you young and alive. And when that dream comes true, there are many more dreams just waiting.