There is this nonsense going around, the idea that “You can achieve anything you can imagine.”
It’s a wonderful sentiment, but it’s nonsense. There are limits to what you can have, do or be.
For example, you can’t fly under your own power, you can’t regrow a severed limb, and you can’t change the past (although you can change history—but that’s another topic). There's much more you can’t do, and untold energy and effort is wasted on trying to have, be or do the impossible.
Surprised that I would say such a thing? After all, I am one to urge people to achieve their potential and to go beyond their limits. I say dream big. I say set big goals and go for it. Isn’t it negative thinking to bring up limitations?
Not at all. It is accepting reality. A major source of misery in the world stems from the failure to face and accept reality. People make themselves miserable by holding on to an illusion that the world is certain way.
On one hand there are those whose view of the world is so limited that they live an impoverished life. Then there are those who heads are so full of fantasy that, in pursuing the impossible, they miss out on and are unable to enjoy the endless treasures that are available to us all. Neither extreme is healthy. None wants to live life of wasted potential, nor to live a life of chasing fantasy.
How does one tell the difference? The reality is that there is no sure way. Many will err on one side or the other. What is it you want? Has it been done by others? In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “That some achieve great success is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.”
Generally speaking if it has been done by other the more likely it is possible for you as well. This could be in the matter of personal issues, such as losing and keeping off weight, stopping smoking or eliminating an unwanted habit. Calling it an addiction doesn’t change the fact that million of people each year overcome these. It could be in the matter of personal goals such as earning a million dollars, creating a successful business, or achieving a specific position or honor. Millions of people have done these as well. Still there is always the factor of innate ability, talent and temperament. There is always the factor of events beyond our control.
That other have succeeded is no guarantee of success. You are not them, and circumstances are never the same.
Harsh words, but reality. So why do I bring this up?
For this reason: in every endeavor it is important to ask the question, "Is it worth pursuing this goal even if I fail?"
If the answer is not yes, then let me suggest you rethink your goals. If the pursuit of your goal is not at least as valuable to you as the achievement of your goal, then your focus may be wrong. A worthwhile pursuit will have its own rewards, even if the ultimate goal is not achieved. Dreams don't always come true, but if they are worthwhile goals, they move us in the right direction.