Got a dream? You need a plan

A soldier wants to quit so that she can do something she loves.

Our elder knows just what she needs to do to make those dreams a reality.


Dear EWC

I am 26 years old, from the Philippines. I am currently employed as a soldier for about four years. My dilemma right now is about my job. The compensation and benefits are better and higher, compared to my counterparts from private companies – the usual salary for new graduates is around $205. The work is relatively easy and routine and I believe I already mastered the tasks involved in my work. However, upon my first year, I immediately felt dissatisfied, unhappy, and bored about my job. The workplace can get toxic, the culture, there are certain parts of the military culture that I find too traditional, sexist, and biased, and I feel stagnant. I do not get programmed to train much, because of my position in our office and that they find me too ‘intelligent’ to participate in training. I stayed all these years because I am worried and afraid that I might not get the same benefits and the relatively easy work outside. But now, I feel that I am slowly preparing myself to quit. 

But I feel that my skills and knowledge are not applicable and outdated for the corporate world. I am a uni graduate with a degree in management. I decided to take a break and reflect on what I wanted to do in life. I am still unsure but I am inclined to pursue my interest in history. Since I was young, I was fascinated by the subject. I buy books about history and archaeology, and I read history facts and articles every day. I came to realize that my dream job is to work at UNESCO. I have goosebumps even thinking about it, but the thought and possibility thrill me. Working in companies such as Procter and Gamble, banks, retailers, does not excite me at all, even if I have a degree in management. I do not see myself retiring as a soldier as well. I am willing to take additional courses, pursue a Master’s degree in history, or whatever to prepare me for this. But I am worried. I know I will be happy, but the work may not be that competitive in terms of compensation. I could not afford to switch and just quit any job because I am supporting my family. However, the idea of finally pursuing something I love… I can now be true to myself. How can I get through this? I mean, am I just undergoing a phase that individuals around my age usually experience too? I hope you can help me clear my thoughts and plans. I could not bring this up with my parents because I feel that they are inclined in finding a stable and well-paying job. But a stable and well-paying job might not be something I wanted in the long run. I just wanted to pursue something I love, that I can wake up in the morning excited and willing to pursue until I get old. I do not want to live my life that I’ll regret in the future.


Sage replies

While I say “yes” you should pursue your dream, in reality the only “yes” that you need to follow your dream is yours.

Life gets in the way, bills pile up, and sometimes we have to do jobs we don’t want to do just to meet the essentials to survive. However, there are a number of reasons to follow your dreams, to break the trend, and to live the life you’ve always wanted. Why follow your dreams? There are many reasons for following your dreams.

Some reasons to follow your dreams:

  1. Your dreams make life worth living. They are what can get you through even the worst days.
  2. You only live once. Life is short. Your days are numbered, so why spend them doing something you don’t love? It’s time to make a decision to go for it. Dream big. Focus on your dreams. Make your dreams happen.
  3. 3. You’ll regret it later in life if you give up on your dream, and if you’re delaying it, you’ll question yourself why you didn’t do it sooner.
  4. Not following your dreams makes you feel unaccomplished. Eventually, this will stop you from dreaming altogether.
  5. Your dreams and your actions define you. Don’t let others define you with what they tell you to do and not to.
  6. Following your dreams might take unexpected turns, but those are the exciting and memorable challenges of living the dream.
  7. Those challenges will help you grow as they make you step out of your comfort zone.
  8. Dreams make you take chances, but chances can bring more opportunities.
  9. Accomplishing your dreams will spark even bigger dreams.
  10. You feel you have something more to live for.
  11. Even if your dreams fail, you’ll feel proud you gave it your all to accomplish them. Dreamers fail now and then, but they also learn more in life. You learn from failure. So, dust yourself off and try it again.
  12. Afraid of it? Good. Being afraid makes you feel more alive, so smash through that brick wall of fear. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.
  13. It’s your life, live it under your terms!

A possible way to follow your dreams

Make a plan

  1. Identify your passion. Yours is history.
  •       You need to be passionate about your dream, passionate enough to grit your teeth and push through the hard times, to keep going even when harsh realities hit.
  •       Think about what skills you might need to accomplish this goal. Know that this is a skill you will need to work on to achieve your dream.
  1. Create a long-term vision. Consider how your goal fits into a long-term vision for your life. This should help you to further refine your ambitions. For example, how do you want to live in the future? What kind of work do you want to do? How do you want to spend your time? Take all of these things into account.
  2. Let your vision shape your long-term goals. Master’s in history? History teacher or professor? Archaeologist? Museum curator?
  3. Break the vision into stages. A long-term goal can seem impossibly far away or hard to reach, especially if it requires years of work. You need a plan. For starters, break up the task into parts. This will let you focus on each part one at a time, giving you more manageable goals to work towards.
  4. Create plans for each stage. You will need a plan for each and every smaller stage in your long-term goal. Don’t worry that you have to formulate these plans now, all at once. Some will come later. The important thing is that you are organized, know what has to be done, and see how your daily or weekly tasks fit into the larger picture.

Following the plan

  1. Practice self-discipline. One of the key traits of ambitious people is that they are able to stay focused on goals.
  •       Develop habits that further your goals. Wake up earlier, for instance, or, for the budding professor, read literature in your spare time.
  •       Identify and erase habits that are undermining you. If you are constantly distracted by the internet, turn off your wi-fi when you need to work.
  •       Make the time. If urgent tasks are keeping you from your plan, make time to devote to your goals. Wake up earlier and spend an extra hour on it every day. Use your spare time on weekends or in the evenings.
  1. Review your goals periodically. While on the road to your long-term goals, you should periodically review where things stand.
  2. Celebrate progress.

Staying Motivated

  1. Keep focused on your goals. Focus can be easy when it comes to short-term goals, which have a quick pay-off. For long-term goals, however, it can be harder to sustain your motivation. Try to keep your focus sharp
  •       Practicing good work habits, reviewing goals, celebrating progress – all of these should help you to maintain your focus.
  •       Remind yourself of what you are doing in moments of doubt. Think about why you want to achieve your goal in the first place. Keep your long-term vision in the forefront
  1. Surround yourself with motivators. Use the people around you to your advantage. Surround yourself with friends, relatives, co-workers, and peers whose options you trust and who bring out the best in you. They can provide an invaluable support network or even give you a needed critique
  2. Think realistically. Highly motivated people are usually realistic thinkers. That is, they understand that success might take a long time or even years. They also recognize that progress will come slowly and that, even after all of their work, there is a chance of failure.

Owning that there is a chance of failure is not admitting defeat. Instead, it allows you to temper your ambitions with reasonable expectations.

  1. Cope with failure. You will probably encounter setbacks or perhaps even small or large failures in pursuing your dream. Don’t let a setback derail your carefully laid plans. Rather, learn to deal with failure in productive ways – this is another trait of highly-motivated people.

Avoid catastrophic thinking. Someone who thinks catastrophically about failure probably does not have reasonable expectations. A failure does not close all doors. It may close some, but others are still open. In a way, coping with failure is about finding these other open doors.

  1. Use setbacks as ways to learn. Most of all, use your failures to grow and to continue to improve. Rather than becoming depressed about a setback, take stock of what happened. Study why you failed. Understand your failure and make sure that you do not repeat the same mistakes

We all have goals in life, things that we dream of doing or being. They may be small, or they may require years of work. Following your dreams may not always be easy. You’ll never achieve a long-term goal by just sitting and day-dreaming about it. You will instead need to commit to a vision, carefully plan, and learn how to stay focused for months or even years. While reaching your dream might be hard, with organization, motivation, and self-discipline you can do it. Go for that dream.

Article #: 473961

Category: Career



    1. Administration Reply
      October 2, 2021

      If you would like to connect to an elder for advice, please visit our website . and an elder will respond. They do not respond to posts in this forum in order to maintain confidentiality.

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