Following Your Dreams vs. Following Your Strengths

“You can be anything!” “Follow your dreams!” “You're a superstar!”

Growing up, my dream was to be an astronaut. But somewhere along the line (perhaps it was after my second failed attempt at space camp or the first time I flunked a math test), I realized numbers weren't easy for me. Becoming an astronaut wasn't exactly a practical life dream for me. Instead I turned to writing, something I was decent at, but also something I enjoyed. And here I am today, sitting here typing up a new batch of posts as a professional writer.

What's your dream?

So maybe it's your dream to be the next “famous” personal style blogger, or a professional street style photographer, or  a specific niche blogger — but in reality, is that your calling?

In other words, maybe it really isn't about your dream, but more about finding what you're good at — even more so, what you're good at and like doing.

Feasibly, the question isn't really “what is your dream?,” but rather “what do you usually gravitate towards?”.

Are you the one usually planning the birthday parties? Or do you naturally gravitate towards organizing the bills? Maybe you're always the person your friends come to for advice, or the one that always volunteers for charity on the weekends. What small everyday challenges do you actually enjoy facing? What seem like average or mundane tasks can be essential in pinpointing your natural abilities.

What it all comes down to, however, is the time, the practice, and the care.

If you're only mediocre at writing, but have a staunch desire to be a writer, and above all are completely passionate about its practice, then it would be beneficial to take courses on the weekends or at night to improve your skills. If you're passionate about photography, but don't know how to work a camera, perhaps it's time to find a professional and ask some advice. If you want to style professional-type photo shoots on your blog, look for internships in the field and find a mentor.

Logistically, channeling your energy into something you have a knack for will create a greater “success” rate; for example, leaving your job in finance to be a famous actor may not pan out so well if you aren't a naturally good at acting and don't bother to take classes. The same is true of blogging. If it's not a natural skill, it means you have to work that much harder to get ahead.

Frankly, if it's something you really desire, working hard for it should feel good. If you get your mind set on something, you no longer need to be average at a handful of things, but simply be extraordinary at one thing.

It's healthy to aspire to goals and dreams, but if those goals don't particularly match your natural skill set, it may be time to reevaluate where you are focusing your energy.

It's ok to dream big — but make sure you're ready and willing to put in the hours and effort to make those dreams a reality.

What are your thoughts about following your dream versus finding what you're good at, both in blogging and in life?


[Image credit: Shutterstock]

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9 Responses

  1. Toni Styles

    Refreshing post! It’s always a great idea to sit back and rethink – because doing what you absolutely love as a blogger is what will bring long-term success. I look at Emily and Scott from Cupcakes and Cashmere and The Sartorialist respectively; they have more than their last name in common but a real passion for their content that is very evident. <3

    • Elena

      I agree with you! When we see successful bloggers like Emily, their work seems very simple and effortless, but in reality it’s a lot of hard work, organizing and creativity! I really enjoy blogging, but I never thought about it as a career path, maybe I should start dreaming big?:)

  2. moiminnie

    I’m sure nobody likes their dreams crushed, but if someone actually has unrealistic expectations in a field they’re obviously not very good at, they should be told so and maybe pointed to another, much more realistic direction. Sure, not everybody can be sincere with themselves, but it’s really important to realize your true calling before they spend too much time, thought and money on something you might never achieve. I myself am struggling with it; I have a BA in fashion and textile design, but still not sure if it’s the path I want to spend the rest of my life walking on. My blog has decent quality, I’m good at photography, I’m good at styling, I’m good at graphic design, but I really need to focus! Thanks for the wake up call : )

  3. Lauren - Slowburn Fastburn

    This is always a hard subject for me. I am currently going to school to be a mechanical engineer, which I am very good at, but my passions lie in fashion and photography. Even though it is kind of unconventional, I have combined this through my work as a fashion designer. Anyone can design a garment, but putting it together and making sure it fits and is flattering is a whole other side. My strengths in engineering allow me to do this, even if it is a little nerdy. :).

    x lauren

  4. Helen

    My strengths are more in the writing side of things (I’m a trained journalist) and I’m brushing up on my photography in an attempt to get it up to scratch.

    Though tonight’s efforts to transfer my wordpress blog to a self-hosted site has made it very clear to me that my strength definitely does NOT lie in the technical side of things :p

  5. AmB

    Thank you so much for this article, it really confirmed my career path.

    Excellent, and I am going to stop wasting time!

  6. Energiq

    So inspiring! And so true. But I have to say, it makes me sad because I am a dreamer and want to believe that I can do anything:)
    It is important to follow our dreams (and also do sth for that) but do not have unrealistic expectations.


  7. Shenita

    This is definitely an eye opener. When I first decided to start blogging and become a youtuber it was a way for me to pass time over a boring summer when I was not working. Currently, I have 4 weeks until I complete my B.A in Fashion Merchandising. Ever since I was a young girl I’ve had a passion for fashion. (cliche) However, my sophomore year of high school I took a Fashion Marketing elective and it pretty much confirmed to me that I wanted to pursue a career in the industry. In January I will be beginning an internship with a boutique/accessory wholesaler. At this point I know that I want to pursue a career path as a Buyer. Hopefully my future endeavors and experiences with this continue to be enjoyable for me. As for blogging, I’m not pursuing it because it is something that I would like to devote my career to. It is actually something that I do to relax me, its fun for me and exciting. I feel as though if I become too consumed into how many readers, hits, or followers I have or competing with other bloggers it becomes stressful. I want it to remain fun for me. If people so happen to enjoy my blog, GREAT! If not, mehh oh well. But it will still be a creative outlet for me, a way to express myself. I hope to meet other great bloggers, and I enjoy sharing my style, passion, and opinions with others who like to do the same.