Life is difficult and full of pitfalls and hurdles. There’s no denying that.
But it’s also full of opportunities, big and small.
I have dreams that are achievable after a few hour’s effort. I have others that take days or months to achieve. Some are big successes I’m proud of. But the really big achievements, the monumental stuff, like curing a disease or colonizing another planet, can take a very, very long time to come to fruition.
And the only way to achieve goals of that scale is to dream big and work hard. If you want to make significant changes to the world, it’s your responsibility to succeed. To make yourself into the kind of person who can do such things, and to build around you the infrastructure required to take the necessary next steps.
This means making sacrifices along the way. It may mean bending your ideals from time to time, so that you can keep your boundaries permeable: otherwise you and your ideas will be inaccessible to people who don’t already ‘get’ them.
It may mean achieving success beyond your own concept of the word. Making massive amounts of money may not fulfill you personally, but it may be what allows you to achieve something that does. Becoming influential socially or politically may sound like a special kind of torture to you, but doing so may be the sacrifice required to accomplish incredible things that would otherwise lack support.
Life isn’t easy, and it may seem like an even more unaccommodating environment when you want to accomplish something huge.
But if you accept the responsibility to succeed, to build your own infrastructure for achievement, anything is within reach.
Update: February 26, 2017
This is a concept I find difficult to explain to idealists, in particular. People for whom bending on their ideals represents heresy of the highest order.
And I understand why. That’s the whole point of idealism and adherence to it. But to me, being able to expand one’s view, away from the target so that you can look around the firing range and see how you might rearrange things so that the target is brought closer, or changed so that the target is bigger and easier to hit, or so that you gun has a sight added to the top; these all seem like legitimate means of accomplishing that goal. Being unwilling to take such steps seems, to me, like a romanticization of the process of accomplishing a goal, prioritizing a specific journey, over the actual desire to get where you say you want to be.
But I’ll also acknowledge that this logic quite often leads people away from their ideologies toward something else, perhaps something easier, or even ideologically perpendicular to their original aims. It’s easy to say, “I’m going to earn enough money so that I can cure cancer,” and then never get around to the curing part. Those who do manage to meander, while still maintaining their larger goal, however, tend to have a big advantage over those who stick with the initial firing conditions, no matter how quixotic it might make their pursuit.