A few years ago, while rummaging through old boxes at my parents’ house in Sydney, I discovered a list of my childhood dreams.
I must have been 14 or 15 when I wrote it. It was written on a piece of paper, wedged in an old journal.
Reading it whisked me back to my youth, when all I had were dreams and a fire to do something extraordinary with my life. When it seemed so risky and brave to want more than a simple suburban life. To many of you reading this, the idea of having ambitious aspirations seems commonplace. Isn’t that normal? But when you grow up as a child of migrants, without much money or many role models, the idea of wanting a cosmopolitan life close to the throbbing heart of world events seemed like a whimsical fairytale.
I’d forgotten that myself. My life has become commonplace, as anything does when it’s all you know for a long time.
So reading my old list of wild dreams brought me back to those days when everything seemed far away.
On that list, I recall, I had written “Start a business”. That had been a dream of mine since I was a little girl, it seems.
There were another nine items on that list.
That was a shock to me. The tiny tech startup bubble that I had entered when I started my company had now become my whole world, and I’d forgotten – until that moment – that I had once dreamed of more than this one thing. To be fair, it was a big thing, starting and building a quite successful business. Holding that old list in my hands, I also took a moment to enjoy the thrill of achievement. I had *done* that. I could put a big hearty tick next to that one list item.
But… there had been more I’d dreamed of for myself. On that list had also been “Live in London or Los Angeles, and travel all over the world”. TICK! Gosh, I was doing well. It was easy to forget how impossibly far away that dream had been to me when I was young and the furthest I’d been on holidays had been the campground of Wyangala Dam in the dry countryside of New South Wales.
And there were more items on that list. I don’t now remember all the rest, I shall have to ferret out that list amongst the messy piles of old journals and dusty scrapbooks I’ve stored away. But do I remember one other item on that old list: “Write a book”. Yes, one of my earliest desires was to write, and to have some sort of impact via what I wrote.
I was musing on this yesterday, when I came across some old journal entries typed up and stored in a forgotten corner of my computer. It was titled “Resolution”, and is a somewhat fitting post to re-read so close to the end of the year. Here is an excerpts of it:
Wednesday, August 7, 2002
In my attempt to fulfil this delusion that I might actually be a brilliant writer, it occurred to me that perhaps I should start writing something, anything, because if I didn’t, then there just was no chance I was a writer. I had a deluded assumption that brilliant writing was somehow my pathological right, and that without practising, or even actually producing any output, somehow I would one day pop out with a best seller.
Well, hear me now. I am serious about my attempt to be a writer. I am getting no satisfaction from being a Data Warehouse Business Analyst (big shock, no doubt). I am not attracting the extraordinary people I want in my life because I am not extraordinary enough. I am not making the kinds of mind-blowing wealth I dream about because that just doesn’t happen when you are an employee of a company. And I am going to die one day, and I KNOW I will be disappointed with myself if I haven’t achieved something special in my time.
There are many ways I could overcome these fears, but writing seems to be the one that rings the most true in my soul. If there is anything that I feel I can offer the world, it’s the magic I imagine, the love I give, and the words I create. With writing, I can possibly change the world. I can at least make someones heart swell, or eyes mist with a moment of beauty recognition. It’s a legacy I can leave which is the closest thing to immortality possible at the moment, and it’s something I do believe I can do.
So I will. I fucking will.
This was written 17 years ago, 6 years before I even started Skimlinks, but 11 years after I had written my list of life dreams. I was working in a job I hated, and couldn’t see a path forward to achieving those lifelong dreams of mine. The dream that kept me going, the goal I’d set for myself even before I become an entrepreneur, was to write a book, and I was still nowhere near.
Which is all to say, here I am again. As I have written here before, I am tossing and turning over my next move in life. Do I start another company? Or do I focus on executive coaching? Do I live a simple good life, or pursue something extraordinary and impactful? I’ve started and played with dozens of ideas, all of which I want to do, yet I find myself flitting between them all, moving none of them particularly forward.
And now I want to add another task to the mix. I’ve been approached by a publisher to write a business book about my experiences with Skimlinks. And its set off an explosion of latent ambition in me. Yes. Yes! This is a perfect time to finally devote myself to this life goal. I’m not working crazy hours, I am not desperately stressed, I am in a state of contemplative self-exploration. It is a perfect time to write.
So we shall see if this is yet another thing I start but don’t finish, or if I will apply myself with the same tenacity I did when I finally started a business. I really would like to add another big tick to that old list of dreams.