Can you really follow your dreams and save for retirement? Can you follow your dreams and pay off credit card debt? What about following your dreams and building up an emergency fund? The answer is yes!
You probably have big dreams. Maybe you want to start your own company. Own a yacht. Buy a vineyard. Pay for your kid’s college tuition. Retire at 45. Buy a lot of handbags. Whatever your dreams are, they are yours and yours alone, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about them.
But what does matter is your finances. Your dreams shouldn’t come at the expense of your savings, retirement, investments, and general finances. You need to be mindful of those, too, in order to succeed.
No matter what your dreams are, they are achievable without giving up financial success. Here, we’ll dive into just how you can chase your dreams and achieve financial success all at the same time.
How to follow your dreams
There are infinite reasons why you should chase your dreams. To lead a more fulfilling life; leave a soul-sucking career; open up your heart and mind, to name just a few. If you take a look in the mirror and get honest with yourself, you’ll surely be able to find a reason why you should follow your dreams. Once you have that reason, it’s time to tackle the how.
Here are our best tips on how to follow your dreams and not give up:
1. Define your dream and be intentional
Before you can chase your dream, you have to envision it. What exactly are you working toward? For example, if you want to start a business, imagine exactly what that business will look like. What will you sell? Who will you employ? Where will you be located? For some people, creating a vision board can be a helpful exercise to really flesh out your dreams.
Next, be intentional about how you live your life. Living intentionally means deciding what you want your life to look like. Having a clear vision of your dreams, and making decisions to actively pursue those dreams, will make you more likely to achieve them.
2. Adjust your mindset
You can have a dream, but without the right mindset, it will be awfully difficult to achieve it. Whether shifting your feelings from envy to admiration, turning defensiveness into curiosity, or other mindset shifts, most of us could use some mental adjustments. These shifts can help you overcome obstacles in the way of achieving your dreams.
One of the biggest mindset obstacles people who don’t chase their dreams face is a “scarcity mindset.” This is the feeling of never having enough. Those who achieve their dreams, on the other hand, have an “abundance mindset.” They believe that they have enough, appreciate what they have, but also know that they have the ability and the opportunity to achieve even more.
By overcoming a scarcity mindset and shifting into one of abundance, you’ll be shocked at just how much more is available to you in life.
3. Get disciplined
In a world of endless distractions, it can be difficult to focus on one thing, but if your dream is important, you have to get disciplined. There are countless ways to develop discipline, one of which is setting small goals for yourself. This is one of the keys to achieving your dreams.
By setting small goals, little by little, you’ll likely reach your big, ultimate, dream goal. For example, instead of setting the goal of selling 1,000 copies of your self-published book in a month, set the small goal of selling 10 books that first month.
Then, the next month, 20, then 50, and so on. As you continue to market and promote your book, all of a sudden you will have sold 1,000 copies, and you will have reached your dream of becoming a successful self-published author. This can all come true if you have discipline and set small, achievable goals along the way.
4. Surround yourself with the right people
Who you surround yourself with can make or break your ability to chase your dreams. First, you need to be mindful of the people who hinder your goals and dreams. These are the toxic people in your life who bring you down and don’t support you. (Learn more about moving on from a toxic relationship).
Maybe they don’t have their own dreams and don’t want to see you achieve yours. Whatever the reason for their negativity, you need to get rid of those people in order to succeed.
Second are the people who you do want around. Those who encourage you and support you and dream along with you. In addition to being your cheerleaders, these people can also help you in other ways.
No matter how much we desire something, sometimes life gets in the way and it can be hard to devote enough time to it. That’s where an accountability partner comes into play. By offering encouragement and, yes, accountability, these people show up in your life to support you and your dreams.
Financial missteps to watch out for when following your dreams
If you follow your dreams, you might be tempted to take risks you wouldn’t otherwise take. Some of those risks might pay off, but others can end up moving you further away from your dream.
When people chase their dreams but ignore their finances along the way, it can be detrimental to their end goal. Be wary of falling into the following traps when pursuing your dreams:
1. Investing in things you can’t afford and don’t really need
If your dream is to become a travel photographer, you’ll need to spend some money to get started. Do you need a camera? Probably. Do you need the most expensive camera on the market? Probably not. That’s something you can invest in down the line when your business is off the ground and you’re making money.
When you start investing in things you both cannot afford and don’t really need to achieve your goal, it can become financially dangerous. Some people spend thousands of dollars that they don’t have on things like online courses (that they may or may not even complete).
Before you make an investment like this, ask yourself, do I really need this to get started? Or is there another way I can work toward my goal that doesn’t involve spending money?
2. Foregoing basic financial needs to follow your dreams quicker
Sure, spending money to chase your dreams is sometimes necessary. But your dreams shouldn’t come at the expense of basic financial needs, like having an emergency savings fund. Don’t make the mistake of foregoing your basic financial needs in favor of your dreams just because you are impatient to achieve those dreams.
It might take a little longer to reach your dream if you are financially responsible along the way, but you’ll end up in a better place in the end.
3. Racking up credit card debt you can’t pay off
Lastly, a common mistake people make when following their dreams is not using their credit cards responsibly. Dreamers can sometimes have their heads in the clouds. That can be a great thing for creativity, but not as good for your finances. Whether it is racking up charges related to your dream, or just regular life expenses, don’t rely too heavily on your credit cards while chasing your dreams.
How to achieve financial success while chasing your dreams
Did you make a financial misstep while following your dreams? Don’t worry about it; we all make mistakes. The important thing is that you realize it and that you are ready and willing to turn things around. To do that, here are some financial tips to keep in mind as you pursue your dreams:
1. Build up an emergency savings fund
A healthy emergency savings fund is an essential part of your financial plan. Nothing – not even your dreams – should come at the expense of saving for an emergency. We never know when something unexpected will come up, and that something might cost a lot of money.
If you don’t have any money in savings yet, don’t panic. There are ways to start to save emergency cash, even if you have none yet. Once you do this, if an emergency pops up along the way to chasing your dreams, you’ll thank yourself that you’ve had the discipline to save. Having the ability to pay for an emergency and get right back on track to focus on your dreams is priceless.
2. Make a plan to get rid of your credit card debt
Don’t let credit card debt be the reason you don’t follow your dreams. Instead, make a plan to get rid of your debt. There are so many proven methods to pay off your credit card debt.
Find the one that speaks to you (or try out a few and figure out which one works best for you), and just get started. Without the burden of credit card debt hanging over you, you’ll have that much more mental space and time to chase your dreams.
3. Set and stick to a budget
Hopefully, you already follow a budget for your everyday expenses. If not, creating one should be your priority. Next, update your budget to include your dreams in it. This is especially important if your dream costs money to get going (think, starting a side hustle). It’s important to invest in yourself and your dream, but make sure you don’t go into debt or buy things you cannot afford in pursuit of your dream.
4. Automate your investments and savings
Lastly, while you’re chasing your dreams, it’s easy to forget about other important things. Be sure your savings and investments aren’t forgotten. The easiest way to do this is to automate them.
Automating your retirement contribution through work and automatically sending a portion of your paycheck to your savings account are just two ways you can automate your finances. By doing this, you’ll have more time to focus on achieving your dreams while still taking care of your finances.
Making your dreams and financial goals come true at the same time is possible!
Chasing your dreams is one of the most surefire ways to live a successful and fulfilling life. Luckily, following your dreams and financial success really do go hand in hand, as long as you have the right financial tools.
Now that you have those tools, go out there, follow your dreams, and achieve the financial success that’s waiting for you along the way!