Dear “Passionate” People: Learn How To Use A Day Planner

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I am not a dreamer.

I say this, not because I’m dead inside, or because I’m so aggressively logical that I don’t know how to let an emotional desire motivate me, because neither of those things are true. I say it because I know (partly from observation of others, partly from what I’ve been told, and partly from my own experience), that wanting something very badly isn’t at all enough to ensure that you will get that thing you want. I say it because I am afraid to let myself believe that simply having a dream is enough to qualify me for it. And if you’re a person who believes that to be true, you are a part of a problem much bigger than yourself.

I’ve seen a lot of people come through in my life who were passionate in a way I could probably never hope to be. And passion is a beautiful thing, and perhaps it is something I wish I had more of, but I truly can’t wrap my mind around the notion that the person who wants something the most will ultimately get it, regardless of whether or not they take the appropriate steps to get there.

And I’m high-key sick of it. I’m sick of being told by the ~dreamer~ next to me that I shouldn’t be methodically planning a comfortable future for myself, reminding me that I should just be ~following my dreams~. To that, I truly have to ask – are you even following your dreams? Or are you just thinking about them?

Don’t get me wrong — I understand, and truly believe, that wanting something badly and feeling highly motivated to reach a certain goal is a truly essential part of accomplishing anything. But it is also important to remember that it is not the only piece of the puzzle. The deep, passionate, emotional desire for a certain job, or salary, or home, or career path, or relationship, or any other goal you might have, is something that you need to use to fuel yourself to actually work towards those goals — but it isn’t the thing that’s going to make you reach them. You have to actually follow through.

Success, to me, isn’t an act of fate. It isn’t predestined, and it doesn’t come wrapped up in some sort of celestial plan that will only be dealt out to the one who ~dreams the hardest~.  And quite frankly, it is ignorant to imply that someone who didn’t accomplish a dream that they worked hard for just didn’t want it badly enough, and ignore all other factors (financially or socioeconomically speaking) that may have prevented them from being able to get there.

I think it is important to consider, above all other things, the role our own autonomy plays in our success. We get to make every single decision, and ultimately, if we decide to dream about our ideal future instead of taking real-life steps toward it, we are contributing to our own failure.

Instead of settling comfortably on the vision of Dream You, and settling comfortably on the idea that the universe might just make Dream You happen without you lifting a single finger, you have to think about the habits that Dream You may possess. Does she clean her bathroom more than once weekly? Does she wake up at 5am to work out every morning? Does she keep her workspace organized?

Then think about the requirements and credentials dream you will need. Does she have a job that requires a master’s degree? Does she have a fat emergency fund? Does she diligently contribute to a retirement account?

I’m not exactly implying, either, that I believe anything can be accomplished by anyone if they just work hard enough. That, to me, is nearly as ignorant as saying you can dream your way to to the top. In fact, in Chelsea’s post from a while back about bullshit entrepreneur myths, she mentions in point #4 that “CEOs/founders/entrepreneurs/Sharks/whatever who insist on acting like it was their ~next-level hustle~ that got them all their success, and not a celestial cocktail of luck, timing, networks, and some hard work that got it, are the fucking worst.”

I can completely and heartily agree with this. Success happens in a bunch of different ways, but you can almost never simply work or dream your way there. In addition to hoping you get your desired outcome, you have to do what it takes – seriously, everything it takes – to get what you want, or else you have to question how much you actually want it. You have to figure out who “dream you” is, figure out how “dream you” will get there, and then fucking do it. You have to work, plan, work, dream, hope, and work some more. Instead of putting all of your faith in a universal force, and relying on your dream exclusively, it is your job to put in all necessary work to reach the goals you have. It is not enough to have a dream. You have to follow through with it.

That’s the only way you’ll reach them – and even then, it sometimes doesn’t work out. It never hurts to have a plan, and a backup plan.

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at mary@thefinancialdiet.com!

Image via Unsplash

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