The day had finally arrived.
I was leaving for London to chase my dream of becoming a writer.
I had butterflies swirling in my belly. A new world of opportunities was opening up to me. The world was my oyster and I was determined to make the most of it.
And yet, as I was stepping foot on the plane, I felt a surge of guilt sweeping through my body.
Who the hell was I to even try to make my dreams come true?
I thought about the friends I was leaving behind. They all had big hopes and dreams when they were growing up. But then life got in the way. Marriage. Mortgage. Children. Now they were happy to have any job to pay the bills.
I thought about my mother and the job she had given up to raise me and my sister. Now that we’ve both left the nest, she sits home alone watching the telly for most of the day.
I thought about all the people in this world who’d like to do what sets their hearts on fire but they can’t. Because they’re afraid. Because they’ve got bills to pay. Because they’re literally forced to work for others – often for little or no pay.
Who the hell was I to even try to make my dreams come true? Why do I deserve what others can’t have?
And yet, can you imagine what the world would be like if we all gave up on our dreams and settled for a job – a life – we don’t love?
I’ve seen that side of the coin too. It’s what helps me ditch the guilt and pursue my dreams.
I know you’re feeling the same guilt, too (can you really be a good person and not to?). Here are three things to remember to stop feeling guilty for doing what you love:
1. Being Miserable Doesn’t Help Others
As I was climbing up the aircraft steps, I wondered if I was making the right decision? Maybe I should turn back now and settle for a boring job, like my friends did.
Then it hit me. Being miserable wouldn’t help them.
Getting a job I didn’t like wouldn’t help them get a job they liked. It wouldn’t turn back the clock and give my mum back her youth so she could make different choices and reenter the workforce when she still could. It wouldn’t free people all over the world from fear and slavery.
I would just join their ranks. Become one of the unhappy people. Wishing on my deathbed that I had made different choices in life.
Do you really want to live in a world where everyone is unhappy and miserable?
Me neither. I want to live in a world where everyone is free to fulfill their purpose and do what sets their souls on fire. Can you imagine how much better the world would be if we all did that?
And this brings me to my next point…
Related: Why You Must Risk Delight
2. When You Go After Your Dreams, You Inspire Others To Do The Same
Most people never even try to make their dreams come true because of fear. Fear of failing and making a fool of themselves in front of the whole world. Fear of succeeding and being dumped by loved ones for becoming too big for their boots. Fear of disappointing their families’ expectations. Fear of the unknown.
Fear. Fear. Fear.
When you break out of your comfort zone and start chasing your dreams, you’re showing others that it’s safe to do the same.
You’re showing them that failure isn’t the end of the world and that you can get back up again – without ending up homeless. You’re showing them you can be successful without losing the love of your family and (real) friends. You’re showing them that even if you choose a different path, your family will still support you – especially when they see you’re doing well and your idea wasn’t so crazy after all. You’re showing them there’s no reason to be afraid of the unknown.
You can’t be what you don’t see. Be the trailblazer who inspires others to fulfill their own potential.
You’re making the world a better place.
3. The More You Get, The More You Can Give
Here’s something we usually don’t think about: when you do what you love, you create more opportunities for helping those in need.
Think about all the people who are currently unemployed, for example. You staying in a crappy job won’t do anything for them. But if you start your own business? You can give a few unemployed people a job that allows them to support themselves and their families.
If you care about a particular cause, like violence against women or lack of water in third world countries, you can donate some of the proceeds from your business/book royalties/youtube revenue/whatever to organizations that tackle these problems.
Even if your dream job is to work for a big company, you can start initiatives to change a bad culture or to support causes close to your heart from within.
You’ll be able to give more in your personal life too. If you’re not stressed all the time, for example, you won’t lash out at your partner for no reason. Instead than coming home spent at night, you’ll have enough time and energy to spend with your loved ones.
You’ll have more – more happiness, more time, more compassion – to give to others.
The more you get, the more you can give.