“Follow your dreams” is bullshit. It sets you up for failure. Dreams are too far off and every effort you make will pale in comparison to the eventual place you want to be. Every single effort except the step when you actually reach it will technically be “I haven’t achieved it yet.” It’s too far in the distance to aim for. Just look at what’s directly in front of you. Make short term, achievable goals.
My whole life I have made “dreams” without any intermediary steps. I never learned how to actually set goals. I never learned what defined a goal in the idea of setting goals. I needed to be realistic with my time frame, but the only one I had was “as soon as possible.”
I’m not sure what the idea of setting an intention means exactly when it is used in a spiritual way, but I think it might be similar to what I have imagined “setting goals” as. You can decide where you want to end up eventually. But then you need to learn how long that will take and what steps you need to take. Then you break those steps down and down and down until they can be done with one action. You need to write some step-by-step instructions for yourself. You can’t assemble an IKEA bookshelf by just staring at the directions.
A main example this related to was my intention to get back in shape, which I have had for at least five years. I used to be in great shape: I exercised often (dancing) and had a lot of strength, flexibility, and endurance. But I stopped dancing as frequently, and then all together. I became more and more sedentary.
Whenever I’ve “tried” to get back in shape (that’s a dream, not a goal at this point), I focus on a step that’s maybe number 10 out of 100. I jump to it too quickly and it doesn’t work. I either can’t maintain it, or I hurt myself, necessitating rest and returning to being sedentary. It’s because I wasn’t looking at the immediate next step right in front of me, just the next actual step, not the signpost 10 feet in front of me. I see now it didn’t make sense to expect to immediately jump to what I tried to.
Saying to simply “follow your dreams” and never explaining how to effectively set goals sets people up to feel like failures. It is the opposite of not being able to see the forest for the trees. This is seeing the forest as a single mass instead of the individual trees. It is looking with blurry vision.
I imagine a rope bridge and first looking to the other side to see how far I have to go but then walking across looking down because there are missing planks.