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We Should Stop Deadlining Our Dreams

You know when it’s just not your day? Missed the alarm. Spilled coffee down the shirt. Congratulated someone who’s not pregnant. That sort of day. After a series of frustrating slip-ups this week, a little time at the nail salon seemed like a good solution.

But instead, my mini-pampering session brought me to tears— and not because of the paint color. Let me explain.

I’ve spent much of the past few months thinking about my goals for 2014. I often wish a good psychic could lay it all out. Will this be the year I start doing yoga? Or indulge in some personal reflection time in Fiji? Celebs are always talking about Fiji.

None of us get to pick our journey the same way we choose a holiday gift.

There’s a lot of professional pressure I’ve put on 2014. Which, coincidentally, brings me back to the nail salon. My mind wandered from choosing polishes to admittedly eavesdropping on a couple of women next to me— likely in their 30s. I listened for a good 45 minutes. I know, I’m terrible.

Bottom line: they went on and on… and on over how busy life had become. How they’ve left their careers. How their kids rule the house. How their 20-something friends should enjoy their full-time careers and freedoms while they still can.

[Cue crisis mode].

Part of everyone’s fear (20-somethings and beyond), is that we’re not moving fast enough— whether it’s up the career ladder or down the marriage route or onwards to children-ville. I often feel like I’m in a hurry to jump career hurdles in case I run out of time later.

I know it’s an unhealthy fear. And yet, I let a couple of exhausted women drive me to tears post-manicure because a part of me worried they might be right— what if I only have a few years left to accomplish a lot of my dreams?

That very thought is a huge part of my problem. And probably, part of your problem. We have to stop pretending that everything can be carefully planned and calculated and well-presented years in advance. None of us get to pick our journey the same way we choose a holiday gift. We don’t get to try on our experiences and return them later. And we most certainly don’t have a Christmas deadline to accomplish everything.

Of course, I shouldn’t have been eavesdropping. But the conversation actually spurred another 2014 goal: to stop forcing my dreams into specific calendar dates, and instead, celebrate accomplishments day by day, goal by goal.