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Stop “pursuing” your dreams

“Try to put well in practice what you already know; and in so doing, you will in good time, discover the hidden things which you now inquire about. Practice what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know.” -Rembrandt

If you’re pursuing your dreams, does that mean you never get to experience what you love until the future rescues you by showing up with a beautiful gift-wrapped box of opportunity?

If that sounds like you, then stop pursuing and start practicing.

Practice is the process of doing something that you want to do before you’re able to do it.

If you want to learn a new language, you have to start speaking in that language before you really know how to speak in that language.

If you want to learn how to cook, you have to start cooking before you really know how to cook.

It is impossible to do something new if you insist on being able to it well before you start doing it at all.

Dreams are no exception.

We’re often told to pursue our dreams, but I think a supplementary metaphor is required.

A pursuit is when you chase after a goal.

The implication of a pursuit is that 1) you’re currently not in possession of whatever it is you’re chasing and 2) you will never be able to directly engage what you’re chasing until, or unless, you’re successful in your efforts to catch up to it.

Practice, on the other hand, is when you directly engage your goals in the immediate present by participating in the here-and-now reality of what you desire at whatever level is possible for you.

Metaphorically representing our dreams as a pursuit can have the effect of making us opportunity obsessive.

Metaphorically representing our dreams as practice can help keep us rooted in the actual work that we dream of doing.

Dreams not only can be pursued; they can also be practiced.

As my grade-school basketball coach once warned us, “only those who practice get to play.”

This Post Has 13 Comments
  1. A very apt adjunct to “A Recipe for Unfulfilled Dreams.” Excellent.

    Five thoughts jumped out at me—came across them years ago (Ah, the joys
    of reading and benefits of other people’s wisdom):

    1.) Don’t confuse activity with achievement.

    2.) Repetition is mastery. (Practice makes perfect.)

    3.) Learn a little. Go a lot.

    4.) Luck is when preparation meets reality.

    5.) You always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.


    1. I love all 5 of those, Alana 🙂 Those first two REALLY resonate with me. By the way, I’ll chime in our ongoing discussion in the next day or two. I got swamped with a bunch of deadlines right after you wrote me. Loving the discussion, though. Please be patient with me. Cheers 🙂

      1. Understood, T.K. Realize you’re quite busy. Have also been
        very busy myself. No patience required. We both have our deadlines and unexpected detours. Fills each day with energy and anticipation.

        Regards, Alana

  2. Exactly. You’ve in no small way influenced my practice over time. Thank you. I now give myself to permission to write junk because over time that junk is transforming into something I’m proud to call my own. That’s practice and with it will come proficiency. You don’t learn to walk until you try to stand.

    1. I am deeply moved and honored by those words, Christina 🙂 I consider it a privilege to a part of your creative journey. You’re doing great work. I love the way you’re moving forward and sticking with it! I love when you say this: “You don’t learn to walk until you try to stand.” Words to live by! Cheers 🙂

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