By guest blogger: Sue Mitchell, Your Business Your Self

When Barack Obama visits schools, he writes on the wall, “Dream big dreams.” It’s an inspiring sentiment. But are schools really giving us what we need in order to pursue and achieve our dreams?

In order to persistently pursue a dream, you have to have a certain amount of faith. You have to believe the dream is achievable, first of all. And you have to believe that you personally can achieve it. If schools are designed to give us the necessary skills and attitudes to pursue and achieve our dreams, then giving us faith in ourselves would seem to be Step 1.

So is this what actually happens?

Think for a moment about working on a school assignment. As you were working on it, how did you know if your work was any good? Did you? Or did you wait until the teacher handed it back to you with a grade before you “knew” its value?

I’m guessing that you allowed the teacher to pass judgment on your work and from there, you decided what your abilities were.

Traditional schooling has taught us to look outside ourselves to confirm or deny our value. If you wrote a kick-ass paper for your English class and the teacher only gave you a C, would you still think it kicked ass? It takes strong character to override the judgments made by others and say, “I still think it’s great.”

Chasing a dream requires this trait. You’re taking risks, trying new things and putting yourself in a position where others may judge you. If you’re looking for approval from others, you’re setting yourself up for demons like perfectionism, second-guessing, imposter syndrome and procrastination.

In order to have a deeply rooted faith in yourself, you must set your own standards for performance. Is your dream silly just because someone else might think it is? No. You think it rocks. That’s what matters.

Do you need to wait until someone tells you you’re worthy of your dream before you can get started? No. You can decide for yourself what’s good enough and whether you are willing to do the work to achieve good enough. This is YOUR DREAM, after all. You get to decide.

Have you been dismissing your dreams because of the judgments of others, or fear of their judgment? Congratulations, you learned that at school. A+ on that lesson. Now it’s time to replace it with the thoughtful appraisal of your own work.

To do this, set some standards before you set out. How do you define “success” for your particular dream? Don’t feel you need to come up with a lot of criteria. Just think of a few ways you’ll know you’re on the right track.

You may already meet some of these criteria, but if you don’t, no biggie. Those become your goals en route to the realization of your dream. And as you achieve them, you’ll know you just passed another milestone on the way to what you truly want in life…and no one can tell you otherwise!

This inspiring guest post on dreaming big is brought to you by Sue Mitchell. Who is Sue?

Sue Mitchell helps beginning entrepreneurs overcome internal obstacles to design and promote a business that genuinely reflects who they are.

Dreaming big dreams but need support to pursue them? Stop by Sue’s site, Your Business, Your Self, to download her free report, “Fun and Simple Ways to Lose Your Overwhelm and Find Your Focus.”

If you have an inspiring post to share, contact me at

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3 thoughts on “How Your Education Can Stand in the Way of Your Dreams”

  1. Pingback: Get Into Action with the Toss of a Cap | Your Business, Your Self

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