It’s helpful to note what was said by Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter for The West Wing and The Social Network: “You want to write the character as if they are making their case to God why they should be allowed in heaven” (as cited in Euchner, 2015, 13%). Similarly, the dreams we chase and how we chase them should lead to a better world.
So, what dreams do we chase, how should we chase them, and why do we chase them—even when they harm us?
Dreams can help us grow.
Charles Euchner (2015) states, “To take a great journey—and to become a deeper person—your characters need a powerful desire. They must strive to achieve a vision, even if it takes a while to understand that vision. Once they find their vision, they need to be obsessive about it. As Martin Luther told Charles V: ‘Here I stand; I can do no other’”
If we ever face life without a purpose, know that one is blossoming as we speak. Life delivers us purpose either deliberately or when we least expect it. But when a purpose—a dream—comes to our consciousness, we must nurture it like a wounded bird. Bring that dream to flight and keep on loving it as it soars. Every dream takes 100% love, just like every relationship that lasts.
What do we dream about the most? What sacrifices does that dream demand?
According to Charles Euchner (2015), “The philosopher Nietzsche puts the challenge this way: ‘Become who you are.’ All of us have a destiny. Our purpose in life is to realize that destiny. What do you want to be? A great teacher? Entrepreneur? Seller? Parent? Coach? Writer? Friend? Leader? Follower? Whatever it is, be prepared to make whatever sacrifice is necessary to achieve it”
We sometimes chase careers or education paths that don’t align with our essence. But we can help nail a career path by taking a Myers-Briggs personality test—and then looking up careers that fit our personality type. We might discover we were born to be social workers, scientists, carpenters, architects, managers. And no role is less important than the next. The soul we put into our dream is what matters, which brings us to a tricky question, “What would we sacrifice to achieve that dream?”
A dream demands sacrifices.
Charles Euchner (2015) says, “Lots of kids want to be professional athletes, actors, musicians, and astronauts. At least, that’s what they say. But to become an athlete, to take one example, you also need to want to work out, eat the right foods, get sleep, avoid drugs and alcohol abuse, and train your mind. You have to want to grind out practices on tough days, work on fundamentals when your friends are having a pool party, and make long road trips to games” (16%).
As students, we grow when we make sacrifices. Do we stay inside every day of the week, rarely taking an afternoon off? If so, the dream speeds up. Do we buy books and supplies instead of buying clothes, makeup, or restaurant meals? If so, the dream becomes more real. Do we eat blueberries, flaxseeds, avocadoes, walnuts, and dark chocolate, and exercise to boost our brain power? If so, the dream is nurtured.
But is that enough?
A gripping dream demands earth shattering sacrifices.
Charles Euchner (2015) says, “Make the character’s desire so intense that he will make great sacrifices to realize it. Give your character not just a powerful goal, but also a compelling approach to realizing that goal” (16%).
Would we spend all day studying 40 minutes at a time followed by 15-minute breaks, repeated from the time we wake up until bedtime, with only a half hour break for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? If so, we could nail a PhD. But that’s extreme, and some of us get similar results on a tighter schedule. The more we can find advantages, like mapping out acronyms while walking to work, the better our academic future.
Even writing formulas on the shower wall gives us an edge. If we become so immersed in our studies that every idle thought centers on planning our essays, memorizing concepts, or rehearsing presentations, we should excel.
That’s the discipline—the sacrifice—needed for extreme academic achievement. And we all can train our minds to achieve so much more.
Would we sacrifice it all for our dream?
Charles Euchner (2015) advises, “What does the character care about so much that he will sacrifice anything to achieve it?” (16%).
Would we go live in a Himalayan cave, isolated for years, to fulfil a dream of becoming a Buddhist ascetic? Would we abandon a goal of raising a family to become a nun? Or would we give up our relationships to gain an academic degree?
When we sell our souls for a dream, we come to a turning point. At that point, we must make a case for why we should enter heaven. If we’ve hurt others to reach our dream, we’ve stumbled. But if our dreams helped others, we’ve won. So, ask ourselves, “How did we love the people in our lives?” That’s the real measure of success for any dream—in fiction and in real life.
If we aren’t willing to make sacrifices, we don’t really want the dream.
As Charles Euchner (2015) says, “If you won’t make the sacrifices necessary to realize your dream, you don’t really want it” (16%).
Perhaps it’s someone else’s dream that we chase. Or perhaps it’s a dream to feed our egos, rather than fill our hearts.
But if the dream brings love in tidal waves, chances are, we’ve discovered a winner.
I believe what we truly want are dreams that nurture humanity: A career to feed a hungry family. An education to do research to help others. Fame to role model a love for charity.
So, why should our dream let us enter heaven?