“DREAMS + REALITY + DETERMINATION = A SUCCESSFUL LIFE”
When I was a kid I used to play this game with my parents where we’d ask, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” My Dad and I were putting batting cages in the backyard. My Mom had a tennis court. Everyone’s debts were paid off, and the driveway always got paved.
And while the driveway eventually got paved, the rest of these dreams remained as fantasy. Although we wanted cool things to happen, they weren’t our driving desires. So at the end of the game, we would return to reality, where we took batting practice and played tennis at the park five minutes down the road.
We had no determination to attack these dreams because they weren’t our actual dreams. Instead, we all worked towards our real dreams based on our own definitions of a successful life.
My Dad took time off work to coach my teams when I was young. He could have grown his business and made more money. Maybe we could have put a cage in the backyard. But his dream involved more quality time with his son.
My Mom quit her job to focus on motherhood, but years later invested months studying to become a licensed personal trainer and then years building a business. She made different choices at different times, but I don’t think she would trade a tired minute of either experience.
But let’s get back to Dalio. I think this passage is the crux of the principle:
“I don’t care whether you want to be a master of the universe, a couch potato, or anything else - I really don’t. Some people want to change the world and others want to operate in simple harmony with it and savor life. Neither is better. Each of us needs to decide what we value most and choose the paths we take to achieve it.”
Before we can hope to achieve a successful life, we first must figure out what that means to us. That becomes our dream. Only then does taking stock of reality and adding a strong helping of determination lead us towards our desired path.