For the past few days, I’ve been missing my childhood days – the days when we were still kids and we would just wander around and play as much as we could. I remember the time when my parents would remind me to sleep after lunch (something I know will not happen again), as well as getting the toys that I want after church service every Sunday. Bills, project deadlines, and transportation fees were nothing to me but words – words that my mother used to utter but meant nothing to me.
But more than those things mentioned, there is a characteristic I really want to have again during my childhood. It is idealism or the ability to see the world in a very positive way, where everything is possible and our minds are receptive to new ideas. Those were the times when discouragement was still not part of our vocabulary and we didn’t have any idea about the impossibilities of life. We would just unconsciously wander and boldly ask why things happened the way they do. We would wear capes and jump from sofas pretending to be like planes. I used to be amazed by the stars and the universe and would go to my mom saying, “I want to become an astronaut!” It’s so funny to think about our early days and how we would wildly imagine things and dream too big. Eventually though, all these innocent and honest aspirations of mine as a child turned into what they are today – just memories.
From being a young and idealistic child, I became a realistic person and started to see life in a different perspective. For every delicious meal we’ll have is a diet that we will need to maintain; for every gadget we’ll enjoy is a monthly bill that we will need to pay; and for every salary we’ll get is a job that we will need to work hard for.
The truth is, just like how we will never forget our first love, I don’t believe that people will ever forget about their first dreams – the aspirations that captured our pure hearts and made us say “I want to become like that”, without considering finances, state of living, job demands, economic growth, or other affecting factors that we only learned when we grew older. I think our dreams will always be hidden in little corners somewhere in our hearts and we’ll never really let go of them. We’ll just hope that one day, they will become true.
A few years ago, I was given an illustration by one of my financial mentors. It was about how some people set aside their dreams while majority of the successful people achieve theirs. He called this the “The Fish and the Pan Illustration”.
The fish represents our dreams – where its size represents whether we want to achieve big dreams or small dreams – while the pan represents our current capabilities, values, and skills. Most of the time, majority of the people find themselves in situations where they want more but then become frustrated when they realize that they can only do so much.
He said that in situations like this, people have three options. The first option is to let it stay like that. We would refuse to cook the fish since it does not fit in the pan and just continue living, hoping that one day things may change despite us not changing.
The second option is to simply decrease the size of the fish to fit in the pan that we have. This is actually the sad part and majority of the people do this. Why? It is because even if it is easy to improve, it is a lot easier not to. I’m not saying that there is something wrong about decreasing the size of the fish, but it is just a waste especially when there is a better way to do it. That is the third option.
In the third option, we can look for a new pan, a big enough pan or even a pan bigger than the fish that we have. Changing into a bigger pan represents the willingness and courage to increase our abilities, values, or skills in order to match the big dreams. My mentor ended the illustration with the note saying, “Don’t decrease the size of your dreams just because you can’t reach them. Instead, do the opposite.”
I learned that successful people and those who reach their dreams are usually the ones who step out of their comfort zones, take the extra effort, and give the extra time to increase their value. All these things they are able to accomplish not because they were born as people who automatically stand out from the crowd. Successful people are normal people too. They eat, they sleep, they drink, and they even breathe the same oxygen that we do. But what makes these people different from others is how they respond to things. Instead of forgetting what their heart yearns, they choose to improve themselves and eventually become deserving enough to receive what their dreams have to offer.
Lastly, to pursue one’s dream, we need to start. Just like what Zig Ziglar said, “You do not have to be great to start; you just have to start to be great.” Successful people who do things they love started by dreaming. Then they acted on that one spark of inspiration. They took their first few steps with courage not because there is the absence of fear, but because there is the presence of faith. That first product they produced, that first article they wrote, or that first song they composed– they couldn’t see it come to reality completely in the start but they believed that it was going to happen.
I think it is good to dream like a child and to still keep our wildest imaginations and aspirations. These allow us to think and search deeper within ourselves to know what we really want, what we want to become, what our purpose is, and why we are here on earth. Sometimes, our biggest enemy is our own selves. Like children, we have to be bold. We have to keep asking and exploring until we get the answers and get what we want.