Chasing Dreams

I’m a big believer that everyone should spend at least a portion of their life chasing their own dreams. Whether dream chasing is your life focus, or something you do a few hours a month, it has enormous value.

The act of pursuing dreams brings a sense of vitality and aliveness to your life.

It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s invigorating.

You shift from merely existing, to truly living.

I get a lot of push back from my readers on this topic. People say...

  • Chasing dreams isn’t practical.
  • Dream chasing is for kids, not for adults.
  • If I chase my dreams, who is going to pay the bills?
  • It’s irresponsible.

The people who make these comments often perceive themselves as being wise and practical in deliberately not pursuing their dreams.

Rather than argue the point, let me frame things differently with the following statement:

If you are NOT fulfilling YOUR dreams, then you are probably fulfilling SOMEONE ELSE'S dream (without even realizing it).

If you're at McKinsey and it’s not your dream to be there, then staying at McKinsey means fulfilling your manager’s dream of becoming a McKinsey partner off of your efforts.

If you didn’t want to become a surgeon but you became one anyway, you didn’t fulfill your own dreams. However, you may have fulfilled your parents' dream of being parents to a surgeon.

If it isn’t your dream to get a loan to buy two cars, a big house, and have 1.7 children, but you do so anyways, you’re not fulfilling your dreams but might be fulfilling the dreams of your bank’s shareholders who profit from your decision.

My point isn’t to argue that you should or should not be fulfilling dreams.

My point is that you ALREADY are chasing dreams.

The only question that’s up for debate is WHOSE dreams are you fulfilling?



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58 comments… add one
  • Shefali Korke Jun 4, 2015, 9:33 am

    That was a great article, Victor. One thing I have noticed(in my case) is that once you have decided to chase your dreams, things do have a way of working themselves out…

  • Marta Jun 4, 2015, 9:25 am

    Pursuing a dream is not a problem. The problem is to find out what is your next dream after you have realized that the previous one was not such a great idea. In other words, you can do what you want only if you know what is that you really want.

    • Victor Cheng Jun 4, 2015, 12:09 pm


      Very true,


  • Peter Jackson Jun 4, 2015, 9:07 am

    Great insight. It is impossible to achieve a dream/ goal without
    trying. If you fail then you have the satisfaction of I did my best effort and you can move on to something else

  • Vinay Khosla Jun 4, 2015, 9:04 am

    Sometimes we have to live someone else’s dream to achieve our own. The trick is to know when it’s time to wake up and live your own dream.

    • Victor Cheng Jun 4, 2015, 12:08 pm


      I like the world alignment. Two people can have a shared dream, or an interlocking dream and as long as both choose that freely it can be a good thing.

      For example, I think spouses should have aligned dreams or at least compatible dreams.


  • Ashley Jun 4, 2015, 8:59 am

    I truly appreciate your most recent article on fulfilling dreams. For a long time I have been chasing my father’s dream of retiring one day. What does that mean, you ask? My father, with the help of some inheritance money from my mom’s late aunt, started his own business through a large commercial cleaning company. He worked so hard every single day to make our family financially stable and happy. What I inherited from his endeavors was an absurd work ethic and the desire to be the very best. And I was. I was the most successful of my friends academically. I may not have been the smartest, even though I was very smart, but I did receive a full ride to my local university. I didn’t apply many places really just a safe, a distance, and a reach. Once it came time to pick a major, I went for business because I thought if I could just give back to my dad some of what he has given me, I would feel like my purpose in life was fulfilled. So I graduated and came to work for the now master franchise owner and ran one of his cities. While I feel I have been successful, I realized way too late that it was not my passion to run a city, manage franchise owners and my employees, sell business, make numbers, and learn all of the tasks I am asked to do when I am 23 years old. I’m a workaholic because I cannot stand to let him down. My goal is to make the city profitable and then return to my home town and pursue a less anxious and less stressful, busy work life. The only problem is that because I have focused so long on this path, I’m quite afraid I don’t know what I will do. I have thought about so many different things but never committed to them. My friends from American Express – mentor really- told me I was an indentured employee. Which brings me to the point why I wanted to leave you a note. If I am so emotionally tied to someone else’s dream, how can I ever let go and figure out my own? My dreams have varied widely. From becoming a professor to a psychologist to a researcher, to working for the CDC, to becoming an ICP, to even consulting. It’s a tough decision and they all look promising an interesting, but how do I chose? That had been what I am working on right now. Anyway, I have been looking for a way to thank you for your webinar. It opened a lot of thoughts for me in terms of finding ways to connect with people when I am shy and not being so interrogative- I’ve had those awkward conversations. When mine start going that way, especially when talking to high achievers, I sometimes pick up on the route we are going down, trying so hard to find common ground, and then I will pick up the leading role in the conversation and switch gears to focus on one topic at a time, making the transitions and applying real, personal life scenarios, and then going with it. The art of conversation has since been found for me because of those that actually gave it to me once. I still struggle sometimes trying to find common ground too, but I think I’m getting better. I hope my story brings another perspective and puts another clog in your thinking wheels. I just wanted to share another perspective with you to write on.

    • Victor Cheng Jun 4, 2015, 12:05 pm


      Thank you for sharing your story. I have found that when someone has been so accustomed to pursuing someone else’s dream for so long, many times they have no idea what they want for themselves.

      This isn’t that unusual.

      Sometimes it helps to just stop pursuing someone else’s dream, and allow yourself to have the space… a dreamless void for a while… to give yourself the space to fill that void.

      Another strategy that I’ve suggested to others is to deliberately not make a choice about which dream to pursue. Instead making experimenting and discovery the focus. Go try 5 different things you’ve always wanted to try – just do it on a small scale. See what you like.

      I’ve found the people who know what they wanted to do in life were often given the opportunities and encouragement in their childhoods to explore and try many different things. By the time they were adults, they had come to know themselves well and they end up choosing their life direction from a place of being quite well informed.

      If you didn’t have such an opportunity, along with many other people, take the opportunity in the present to explore. It’s a useful part of the process. You don’t always have to be pursuing a specific dream at all times. It’s perfectly fine to have an interim dream of figuring out what you want for a long term dream; or just to explore for a while.

      Best wishes,

  • John Fillmon Jun 4, 2015, 8:47 am


    Excellent missive – being passionate about dreams, along with planning and execution goal setting is a recipe for successful life outcomes!



  • José Maria Jun 4, 2015, 8:43 am

    It´s a really important subject at this e-mail, like all others. However, greatness is only made when more than one people share the same dream. I think this is really important to be sad connected to what is sad in this e-mail, otherwise, people would think that someone’s dream couldn’t be his dream.

  • Mark Berlin Jun 4, 2015, 8:40 am


    Great short note on dreams. I performed my undergrad and grad studies at night. I switched my majors 3X, while working 50+ hours/week. I also switched career paths 3X. Still finding time to scuba dive 12X per year, squeezing in racquetball 3X/week. Why? In pursuit of dreams! The sports were my therapy, and opportunity to focus.

    The experiences in my three different jobs have been rewarding. Always a stepping stone for the next. I am still looking for more to learn and try, never afraid of failure. Our daughters are 19 and 16, and laugh, telling me I have more energy then all of their friends combined. I tell them, never be afraid to ask a question, never stop learning, have fun (yes, occasionally we all trip), and dream big. But when dreaming focus on the process to the end game.

    Also, I’m over 50, and looking for the next adventure.

    Keep up the great work!

    • Victor Cheng Jun 4, 2015, 11:56 am


      Wow, you’re over 50 and doing all of that? I can’t even imagine. You’re. Good role model of your kids. Best wishes.


  • Vish Jun 4, 2015, 8:38 am

    Hi Victor
    Can’t agree more. I’m from India and there by default options and challenges are guided – can say results too with expectation of results on higher side irrespective of effort. With that in mind, I believe (and these are my thoughts) most Indian of my era have lived someone else’s (“Parents”). I can see why there is disagreement on your view as people who believe otherwise decided on money over action, meaning it didn’t matter what education you had as long as you had something significant to earn more than satisfaction (note that financial expectation has always been on higher side). I tried breaking away from that trend. I pursued my MBA and subsequently decided to do what and how I wanted to do (perhaps as a rebel of that trend and chose my preferred direction of travel). What I do next is already planned too only because I enjoy what I do. It does nothing other than give you immense confidence in your ability. If you do what you enjoy doing – money will follow itself. That’s what I believe in and that’s what I have transacted across to my young children too. “Follow your dream”
    Thanks for your regular newsletter and emails.
    Kind regards

  • Arsalan Jun 4, 2015, 8:29 am

    Very true !

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