I get concerned when I see famous people in all sort of fields (‘celebrities’?) give advice to youngsters  saying something like “You can be anything you want to be, do anything you want to do. You just need a goal and to work very hard.”

Now positivism is good – and encouraging youngsters to work hard is also good.  But this advice is based on a falsehood. Not everyone can achieve their dream. Think of all the kids who want to be football or basketball stars or ballet dancers or movie or rock stars or …….   There are nowhere near enough ‘vacancies’ to accommodate all those dreams.

Some who dream and work (very) hard may make it … usually with a bit, or a lot, of luck. Some who dream and work very hard may almost make it – perhaps enough to give them a career. Many who dream and work very hard will fail. It is inevitable.

We cannot control everything with hard work.  Some of us will fail and may have missed opportunities along the way to change direction and carve out a successful career in a different field. Those who persist in chasing the dream may suffer from burnout and exhaustion – and disappointment.  They will feel they didn’t work hard enough to achieve their dream.

We’ve need to get youngsters to build pauses, reflection, mindfulness into their dream-chasing.  They need to re-evaluate their dream based on the evidence of progress made – and perhaps change tack or lower expectations.  They need to stop worrying, reduce the demands they make on themself and live in the present not in some probably unachievable future.

Ironically they will almost certainly become more productive, and a more balanced approach to their work may even lead to greater success.