Meaningless Dreams

Meaningless Dreams

Dreams that involve helping others and changing the world are considered valid and honorable. These are the admirable, socially approved dreams.

But what about dreams that are meaningless to others? What if your dream is to climb every mountain in the world? Or what if you just want to jump off things?

We give up on a lot of dreams because they don’t “have a point” or aren’t contributing to society. So many of us try to determine if we’ll do something by whether or not it serves others. We get caught up in fake growth.

But what if your dream serves no one but yourself? Does that make it any less valid?

One of my dreams is to do a one-arm pullup. There’s really no “point” to it at all. It doesn’t accomplish anything. It’s not practical. And it certainly doesn’t help anyone. But that’s not stopping me. I think it’s cool, and that’s enough for me.

Our dreams don’t have to have a purpose. They don’t have to inspire anyone, or make any difference at all in the world. If you’re enjoying them, that’s enough. If it excites you, that’s enough. If you’re doing a lot of things that don’t excite you because they’re “practical,” well, that serves no one.

The world needs more people that are doing what they want to do. I suggest sorting that part out first, then figuring out how you’ll make a contribution. You can often do both at the same time. But it’s okay too if you do some things that have no purpose, and other things that help others.

But please, don’t just do things things you hate because they’re practical or utilitarian. I don’t think it serves anyone if you force yourself to be selfless in a way that’s not authentic. That’s self-deprecation, not service.

Give yourself permission to do what you want, even if there’s no purpose whatsoever.

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet because I want you to focus on action, not sitting here staring in front of the screen.

Before I let you go, I want to know… what’s a “purposeless” dream you have that just serves you? Please share in the comments.

photo courtesy of wetsun

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98 Comments on "Meaningless Dreams"

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emeri1md
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I have a few dreams that don’t really have a point for others. Learning Japanese is one of them. Learning to draw, play music, dance, and sing are others.

aeriath
Guest

My dreams: to master a martial art, natural medicine, playing violin, speaking perfect Japanese, and writing. Not all of them serve others, but an excited me will do more good for this world than any other iteration.

Looking forward to the one-armed pull-up Jonathan. Have you checked out Never Gymless?

anna.o
Guest

Being a professional dancer! And I made that dream come true.

It does serve others, in that dance inspires others – both in teaching and performance – but that’s not why I dream of dance. I dance for me, because I love it.

missjenyoung
Guest

According to action movie reality, a one-arm pull-up is a vital skill. ;^) One never knows. There is also the argument that when we are able to accomplish something that seems impossible, the collective unconscious benefits. Suddenly, people in far-flung reaches of the world are able to do the same skill. All it took was one person running 26.3 miles to start the modern trend of running a marathon just for the accomplishment of it. In the process of training, people have changed their lives.

Sandra Pawula
Guest

If your dreams are so self-centered they will only harm you in the end.

JonathanMead
Guest

Do you think it’s worth have any dreams that are self-centered? Just curious to hear you elaborate. @Sandra Pawula

JonathanMead
Guest

You’re so right. Maybe I have a film career in my future. :) @missjenyoung

JonathanMead
Guest

Those are some awesome dreams dude.

Yes, I have seen Never Gymless. It seems like a good book. Right now I’m following the Gold Medal Bodies program from my friend Andy Fossett. It’s really effective.

@Lee Knowlton

JonathanMead
Guest

Those are all very worthwhile dreams. @emeri1md

deepesthealth
Guest
I totally agree, though I’m not sure that any dream is truly purposeless. We may not understand the purpose at the time, of course, but I’ve always been surprised by my own prescience regarding my various undertakings… sometimes eerie how things come into play later on that you wouldn’t expect. I mean, that one armed pullup thing? Maybe we’ll be hiking someday and you’ll need to grab me one armed and pull me to safety! Silly example, but… Learning Japanese, natural medicine, learning to dance, all of these other examples – they do serve a very real purpose (intellectual exercise… Read more »
Michelle O
Guest

My dream is to become a best-selling author and hopefully by doing so, I will inspire others to follow their dreams. So Sandra, NO dream is self-centered. So sad to hear someone say that!

Jonathan – great post and keep ’em coming!

ethanwaldman
Guest

I want to write a folk rock concept album loosely based around the plot of Herman Hesse’s Siddartha. Also: Bicycle building, Beer brewing.

patrickdomingo
Guest

I want to make a home studio and hone my freestyling lyrics and make an album with my friends. I want to brew beer, and I want to be able to dunk a basketball (I’m 5’5).

Adrianne
Guest

@Sandra Pawula Couldn’t you say all dreams are self centered in a way. It’s something that you want to do, something that your “self” needs to accomplish to reach some kind of fulfillment. It doesn’t matter if you’re dream is to help people or do a one-arm pull-up, all dreams in the end come back to you. But that is what makes them worth following

AndyFogarty
Guest
Even the dreams that seem pointless in the sense of “helping the world” are important. I don’t think any of our dreams come to us by chance. A one pull up may seem pointless to some but incredibly motivating to others. I also see these type of dreams/goals as fuel for inspiration in other parts of life. I usually get my best writing ideas when I’m sparring. Exciting new designs for metal creations to weld up come to me when I’m trying to see how much longer I can stand an ice cold shower than last time. A better way… Read more »
Adrianne
Guest

My dream – move to Italy. Before I hit retirement age. I didn’t want to wait for one day so we made the choice to make it happen. It hasn’t always been easy but it’s where I am happiest.

cristina.marie.music
Guest
My dream is to recover my lost/stolen ipod touch that had every midi @ track ever arranged for me by my GodFather, one of the last true Accordian Masters in America eatpraylove . Arrangements in their original format and lyrics and photos of my daughter and my Godfather. Being a single mother and professional musician in the digital age is hard enough when you know better than to allow a computer to falsify your natural given gifts. i had a dream to keep it real as an Italian American Entertainer, and I have done so through much sacrifice and toil.… Read more »
Sandra Pawula
Guest
I’ll explain where my thinking originates and then answer your question. In my spiritual tradition, there are three categories of thoughts and actions: harmful, neutral, and positive [from a karmic perspective]. One-arm push ups probably fall in the neutral category. Therefore, negating what I originally said that they will only harm you in the end. :) Sorry about that! They won’t necessarily harm you, but they won’t necessarily help you much from a spiritual perspective. But it all depends on motivation. If you’re motivation is positive, it changes the nature of the thought or action. In the course of being… Read more »
illumary
Guest

When I was in Junior High I “dreamt” of having self esteem and good personal health. While these ideas had nothing to do with any career, at 52 years of age I am at peace, centered and have health that rivals that of a 20 year old. I’m ready to succeed at my “other dream” of being a successful visual artist.

Sandra Pawula
Guest

Hi Adrianne, Yes, they are coming from “you” so they are centered in you. But I’m speaking of “self-centered” in the context of being focused on the self to the exclusion of others. @Adrianne @Sandra

Sarah.m
Guest
For the past several months I have been having a “life purpose” crisis. Every time I want to do something, every goal I want to achieve, my brain screams ” But whats the point?!” it all kept spiraling downwards, just making everything meaningless to me, because nothing had a real purpose. that mindset still eats at me sometimes. Reading this post makes a lot of sense to me right now. Being me just for me. Even if it makes no sense to those around me, and helps absolutely NO ONE. My dream is to play parkour, get stronger(no matter how… Read more »
cristina.marie.music
Guest

what is parkour? I go through the same. If the creative urge is in you, though, you will not be at peace until you let it out for the greater good in some way. Just a suggestion. @Sarah.m

IstvánSzoboszlai
Guest

I want to learn to drive a helicopter! (And than of course have one, that I can practice on) :)

KristinRoach
Guest

I really want to complete all three Permanent Populaires and become a member of the Iowa Randonneurs. People often ask “why would you want to do that?” and it’s like “well, why does anyone want to do a marathon or climb a mountain, or anything like that?” It’s a challenge to yourself. And sometimes goofy ideas like wanting to make something everyday for a year and document it just gets under your skin. Could I do it? What would the result be? Would it inspire others?

gwynmichael
Guest
Ditto Andy Fogarty. Everything we dream can have a purpose of some sort. At 52 I have a dream to hike the Inca Trail to Maachu Pichu by 55. Does that serve anyone? Perhaps not directly but as I prepare for it it means keeping myself in top physical shape which gives me energy to do more things that may serve a higher purpose. My writing about it may serve as motivation for mid life people that are not in shape. My experience may lead to other more meaningful work, and on it goes. Being I can’t quite manage a… Read more »
KristinRoach
Guest
I really want to complete all three Central Iowa Permanent Populaires (http://sites.google.com/site/centraliowapermanents/) and become a member of the Iowa Randonneurs, complete at least one brevet by the end of the year, and then start hosting my own permanent routes. People often ask “why would you want to do that?” and it’s like “well, why does anyone want to do a marathon or climb a mountain, or anything like that?” It’s a challenge to yourself. And sometimes goofy ideas like wanting to make something everyday for a year and document it just gets under your skin. Could I do it? What… Read more »
AndyFossett
Guest

@ethanwaldman That is a fucking awesome dream, and you’ve just sold at least one copy.

ethanwaldman
Guest

@AndyFossett Then it’s meaningless no more! Woot.

AndyFossett
Guest
Dude, you know I’ve got a lot of ideas on this topic, but I’ll keep it to the point. Evil Andy #1 (@AndyFogarty ) already broke it down pretty well: a lot of the seemingly pointless things give us intangible benefits that enrich the “important” stuff we do. For me, meaningless dreams are to record and release another four albums of music, to publish a book of haiku, to maintain homes on two different continents, and to try every beer in the world. None of those further my career/business goals or “create value” for anyone but myself. Yet, chalking them… Read more »
beinspirednow
Guest

Hi Jonathan, great post. Maybe doing a one arm pull up does serve other people because in doing it you’re demonstrating what’s possible and in so doing could inspire others! So even though we may start out doing the dream for ourselves we may also be surprised how it serves others. But like your post says whats most important is being true to our selves and following our dreams and I guess irrespective of the dream this in itself is inspiring!

Carpe Dream!

Sean M Kelly

http://www.DaretoDreamCourse.com

macnelliebus
Guest

Islands. Want to keep visiting islands……

LSmuck
Guest

I do stained glass as a hobby and there is one particular window that I would love to do partly because it is over 500 pieces and just a massive piece (however I have NO idea where I would put something that huge). I would also like to become certified in Pilates instruction; which in another way would benefit others once I achieve that dream.

Linda S

CoachRandi
Guest

This is awesome! Dreams without limits – without judgment….hopefully ; ) My meaningless dream? Hire a dialect coach to perfect my fake British accent. Silly, I know….meaningless…and yet so fun : )

ethanwaldman
Guest

@AndyFossett Another beer lover AND musician!? Now my dreams are not only meaningless, but also unoriginal. What are the chances..

calaidoscopeworld
Guest

Hey Jonathan, I want to match your one arm pull up with my handstand. I’ve always wanted to do one :-).

ChrisGeorge
Guest

There are so many “cool” things that I’d like to do/accomplish, it’s hard to know where to start. Most of my dreams are self-serving, but even those dreams can provide joy for others indirectly. As far as meaningless dreams are concerned: I’d love to become fluent in 3 additional languages (working on Mandarin and Spanish currently), record a couple of albums and travel the world.

Thanks for what you do.

AndrewToynbee
Guest

Like Michelle O, my dream is to finally see my random fantasy scribblings in a published book. I have been writing since I was…Oh, eleven, so as I’m now about to hit 47, I’ve had a long (impatient) wait. But as my calendar of wisdom said today; ‘Most people dream of success, others wake up and work hard at it’. Sample chapters of my completed novel are currently winging their way to Agents by email and snail mail. Maybe my dream will come true!

BTW, looking forward to seeing your one-arm success on YouTube!!

starstoute
Guest

I am vocalist not pursuing my singing because I am married and have small children and don’t even know where to start. My dream is to find a way somehow to do it all. Have that singing career that wouldn’t mean sacrificing my family and marriage. I feel that it is an elusive dream and that really saddens me.

amycollette
Guest
Just last weekend I accomplished one of my dreams – to ride my bike to the “red barn.” This was a goal I’ve had for the past two years, and I’ve tried to reach it several times and failed. It involved a climb at an elevation I thought I just wasn’t physically capable of. But I found out I could do it. To me it means that I have to see myself differently. It gives me tremendous confidence that I can accomplish more dreams – maybe even some that change the world. If I can get to the red barn… Read more »
bigbrightbulb
Guest

Ohhh, don’t I dream often of fitting into that sacred pair of cutoffs from the summer after my junior year of college? Can’t go back in time, I know, but it would tie me to the best parts of my past, it seems, if I could fit my middle-aged fat ass into that not-too-tiny a-little-too-short pair of tattered denims… :-D

Savanni
Guest

Seeing and photographing the aurora.

When this dream took hold of me, I did not know that I would, a few years later, develop a wild mad passion for photography and get a really good camera.

GinaRafkind
Guest

I want to do a handstand in the middle of the room :)….without wall support….whoohoo!

Dudeman
Guest
It’s no secret that I’m in love with business and action sports….so my dreams are…….To continue to develop an impressive physique through bodybuilding….To compete in professional freestyle motocross, more specifically X-games….To compete in aerobatic flight, in airshows and etc……To establish a very successful corporation…..to develop a retirement portfolio of real estate, businesses, etf’s, and paper assets…….to use the income generated by the former to establish several non-profit orgs…blur the lines between business and philanthropy by inspiring and sponsoring…….Very lofty (goals) dreams that I am continually working on…..I really see know reason why I can’t do all of the above if… Read more »
Dudeman
Guest

PS. I realize these aren’t meaningless dreams…but idc becasue idc about meaningless dreams.

marshastopa1
Guest

Last week I just accomplished a dream I’ve had since 2005: to move from metro Detroit to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina.Why? The mountains. Milder winters will be great, but I fell in love with the mountains. And now I have to make a go of freelance copywriting or find a job, which is same situation I faced in Detroit. Rather here than there.

Michelle O
Guest

@AndrewToynbee keep at it and your dream will come to fruition! What is your book about? I’m always looking for guest bloggers for http://www.michelleoeltjen.com.

Matt Batavia
Guest

It’s been a dream of mine to travel around the world and the U.S. jumping off of sick waterfalls and connecting with people who know about such cool spots in their area.

alwaysfearless
Guest

Great post Jonathan and it makes a ton of sense. Regardless as to whether your dream has any merit in the eyes of someone else or not it is still YOUR dream and you should live it and do it to the fullest. Thanks for that reminder.

livingauthentically
Guest

Yes, it makes it less valid. I think it is worth investigating the judgement too.

I do think we need more people doing what they love to do. I think this will make the world a better place. That tie up is important I think.

quantafire
Guest

I always wanted to jump off a building and land on the leg of a helicopter, and then climb my way inside…ever since I saw Keanu do it in the Matrix :)

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