“Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most of us have dreams or goals we want to fulfill. Some of you would like to be rich, get married, have kids, or work in your dream job. And with everything going on in our world today, others simply want to survive until the next day.

You may not have any or don’t know what those dreams or goals are yet.

We all experience life differently. My hopes and dreams may look nothing like yours — each person is unique in this aspect. And there is nothing wrong with having dreams which don’t align with societal beliefs. Society is not always right.

The problem is many don’t pursue what they want. I know the cliche of pursuing your dreams exists but that doesn’t mean the cliche is meaningless. You need to determine that for yourself.

When I look back on my life, I realize I never pursued what I should have. I thought about it all the time, but that was all.

I wanted certain things to happen, and I hoped they would, but I never acted to achieve anything.

I only dreamed.

And I dreamed a good portion of my life away. My thoughts never manifested into anything other than thoughts. I wanted. I dreamed. I wished.

But I did nothing to make any of it true.

I became comfortable just dreaming about what my life would look like if I achieved my goals. I was too busy thinking of what I was “going to do” and “how I would live” when I made it — when my dreams finally came true.

Because those dreams I had would make me happy. Right? Whether it was true or not. But instead of dealing with the present, I looked to the future.

I adapted to my unhappiness by dreaming of happiness. I adapted to my misery by believing if I just kept dreaming about the life I wanted, things would change.

I was slowly wasting away. I was allowing my dreams to be just that; dreams, and not reality.

But they never changed.

And it won’t for you either.

You can dream of being a writer, about being rich or “successful,” you can dream all day long about whatever you want. But none of it matters if you don’t do something to achieve those dreams. If you don’t act, dreaming is a waste of time and a waste of much of your life.

I see people all the time who “want” to be a writer or “want” to be something. But they never write. They never do what they need to become whatever it is they want to become. If this is what you do, you will end up dreaming most of your life away as I did. You will find yourself older and wondering what happened. Then it may be too late.

Because time slips away and we become comfortable only thinking about a better life instead of acting to MAKE a better life.

“While we wait for life, life passes.” ― Seneca

Will I achieve these dreams I have for myself? I don’t know. I have no clue where my life is heading. And there is nothing wrong with that either. We don’t have to have life figured out because that is what life is about. It’s about learning what works and what doesn’t. And it’s about adapting to the many changes we encounter.

But I’ve learned I can no longer NOT pursue my dreams. I can no longer waste my life by merely dreaming. I have to take action. Because I let time slip away for too long. And I’ve decided to not let my dreams slip away either.

So I acted.

You can make that choice too.

Don’t let your dreaming keep you from your dreams. And don’t dream your life away as I did for so long.

You have one shot — don’t waste it.

Jeff Barton is a writer, ultra-runner, lover of books and zombies, a practitioner of positive thinking, and most importantly, a dad. Living and loving life one day at a time. You can find him at jeffthewriter.com and jefftherunner.com.

Image courtesy of Cody Black.