Last week, I wrote a blog post about the difference between living the dream and chasing the dream, being or feeling content when you are enjoying your life as it is, and the discontent you feel when you’re always seeking more. But I wonder … is it that black and white? Can it be a good thing to chase your dreams from time to time?

When Does Living the Dream Go Too Far?

So let me play devil’s advocate here….

There’s a counterpoint to be made to my statement the other day: that living the dream leads to a happier, healthier outlook. Maybe being too happy or too content isn’t ideal either.

Let’s take it to an extreme. Let’s say you’re unemployed, unable to pay your rent, and about to be evicted. But hey, you are healthy and alive, so you are content and “living the dream.” So you kick back, smile and figure that whatever happens … happens.

Now most people will never be content in that situation. But let’s dial it back a bit. Let’s say you are 27 years old, have been in minimum-wage job for the last five years, and are still living with your parents. But you have great friends, go out every night and have fun, and are truly enjoying life. Is that an okay time to be living the dream? Chances are your parents don’t think so.

When and How to Chase Your Dreams

We can all agree: the key to happiness in life is … well … to be happy.

But sometimes, maybe it’s important to balance that happiness in the moment with setting career goals (like getting that dream job), planning for the future (like saving for retirement) … or even dating (so that you can find the right person for you).

Chances are you can come up with one or two things that you want to improve about your life. Here’s how to take those and make them goals you can really achieve.

• Think about where you want to be and work backwards from there. What steps will it take to get from point A to point B?

• Give yourself concrete objectives and timelines. For example, hold yourself to an objective, like “I need to update my resume by the end of the year.” Or “I want to lose 5 pounds in the next 6 weeks.”

• Find ways to reward yourself along the way as you achieve the small objectives that will help you chase your dreams.

• Bring in friends and family members that can help cheer you on and be your biggest supporters.

So maybe chasing your dreams doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy each and every day that gets you there. Maybe it means that it’s important throughout your life to continually stop and think about what can make you even happier – both now and in the future.

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