Who will criticize your dreams?

I hope you have dreams. Dreams are precious, and they open the door for what happens next.

Some dreams are tactical. They’re very specific executions of a possible future, designed to create a certain kind of happiness.

And some dreams are strategic. They might be short on specifics, but they help us understand exactly the change we seek to make in the world and the way it might make us feel.

If your dream is to be a vaudeville star working nightly at the Rialto on Broadway, that’s specific and tactical.

If, on the other hand, your dream is to pursue your craft in front of an audience that appreciates you and makes it possible for you to do it again, that’s strategic.

The more we talk about them, the more tactical they become, as if a dream doesn’t count if it isn’t imminent.

But getting the strategic part right is far more important. The feeling and contribution you’re going for, not what it looks like on your resume.

The problem is that people are often terrible at helping with your dreams.

Perhaps you might get lucky and find someone who cares enough about you that they’ll happily give useful feedback and advice about your tactical dreams. What a precious gift. They’re celebrating your journey at the same time they’re helping you see how you can improve the tactics you’ve chosen.

Tactical dreams are almost certain to never work out the way we hope. We need all the help we can get to understand what we’re actually hoping to accomplish and why. We need to learn to see the strategy behind the tactics we’ve chosen. Because once we can settle on a strategy that works for us and the audience we care about, our tactics can change over time.

Too often, we believe that the first set of tactics we’ve settled on is our true calling, the only way to accomplish our dream. And then we get trapped, and turn away from those that might help us figure out what we really need to be focusing on.

On the other hand, folks who criticize your strategic dreams might mean well, but they’re probably keeping you from making a real impact. To protect you, they pull you down instead. They’re hoping to prevent you from failing at anything. That’s not helpful.

It’s easy to get confused and to simply hope that people will cheer us on, regardless of how realistic our tactics are.

But if the people around you are afraid to criticize any of your dreams, you’re likely to find yourself in a tactical bind one day soon.