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The Price You Must Pay to Follow Your Dreams

07/12/2012 04:11 EDT | Updated 09/11/2012 05:12 EDT
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As a talk show host, I love to delve into the what inspires the hearts of my guests -- and their success secrets. Although I am merely a facilitator of getting their inspiring messages out into the world, and am by no means a success expert, I learn from -- and am uplifted by -- these women. What I have discovered is that we all have our own view of success, and the journey to success is truly unique to each individual.

I also know there is a price to pay for success. The question is: what is the price you are willing to pay?

A few years ago, I wrote a book that covered this topic entitled The Whispering Heart: Your Inner Guide to Creativity. Nothing has driven me more than my commitment to listen to what my heart says and, when required, finding the courage to act on those whisperings. This is when I feel successful. But I would be kidding myself if I thought -- even for a second -- that I have mastered listening to my heart. Regardless, I stay true to my inner guidance because I also know there is a price to pay if I do not listen to my heart.

Here is an excerpt:

The Price of Success

Every goal we set out to achieve has a price tag attached. There is a price to pay for everything in life. Success has its price. Having a family has its price. A life of riches and glamour has its price. Living from paycheque to paycheque has its price. Self-employment has its price, but so does working for a corporation. Whatever lifestyle we choose to embrace has its price. Forget the free lunch. Nothing in life is free. There is a price to pay for everything, even if it is a hidden cost.

Your dream has its price.

When we look at the big picture, we must determine if we are willing to pay the price to follow our desires. For instance, perhaps you want to start a second career -- your dream career -- but it may mean taking a salary cut to enable you to dedicate the necessary time. How much is it worth to you? If it means having less money in the short-term it may be worth it. However, if it means financial hardships for years to come forcing you to change your lifestyle, which may have a negative impact on your family, you have a bigger price to pay. Is it still worth it? In the greater scheme of things, if the answer is yes -- great! You are living on purpose -- zipping down the path you are meant to. If the answer is no, it may be time to revisit what gives meaning to your life.

Energy flows where attention goes. If you put all your time and energy into a relationship, you will not have enough time or energy for your creative projects. If you spend all your waking hours working on a creative project, your relationship will suffer because you are not able to put enough energy into it. However, if you share your passion with your mate, you may inspire them to do something in line with their heart. Or by being caught up in your creative project, it will allow your mate to have more time to spend with other family members or friends.

Your creativity has its price.

If you are in a high state of creative flow and work night and day on creating your masterpiece, your social life will pay the price. Maybe to you it is a small price to pay for creating something from your heart. There will always be social life to experience, but if you have that urge to put your energy into your creation, or making your dream come true, you may decide that putting your social life on hold may be worth it (at least for the short term). This is a decision you may be faced with.

If you are working madly day and night on your creation, your physical health may pay the price. At some point, you will be faced with making difficult choices. If you are afraid to make decisions that will enable you to follow your creative desires, that decision alone has its price. For instance, by not listening to your whispering heart, you may become depressed and experience health problems, or relationship problems.

What price are you willing to pay to follow your creative dream, and live with joy and fulfillment? What price are you willing to pay if you do not follow your dream?

Reframing "Success"

From the beginning of time, people around the world have given up something to follow their dreams. These people have achieved success, regardless of whether it made them financially rich or not. They are successful because at the very least they overcame self-doubt. Ultimately, they lived their lives and followed a dream, no matter the outcome. They paid the price for success and, I hazard to guess, if you had the opportunity to ask them they would likely say it was worthwhile.

Fame has its price tag, too. Movie star Marlon Brando was known to have remarked, "Fame is a curse." I think any celebrity, whether a Hollywood actor, musician, business tycoon, writer and the like, pays the biggest price of all for their creative dreams. To be in the public eye constantly must be extremely taxing, especially in those moments of public humiliation, regardless of whether it is a relationship break-up, drug problem or being slammed by the critics for a poor performance. While glamorous to many people on the outside, being in the limelight must be grueling. Consider superstars Michael Jackson, Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, Martha Stewart, and the former "king of rock and roll," Elvis Presley. Think of the unrelenting international media attention their lives have generated. I can only imagine how difficult it is for families and friends of superstars, and how it must impact their own physical and emotional health.

If you dream of being famous, or are infatuated with the notion, consider the price you will have to pay once you reach that destination. Fame will inevitably have a big price tag attached. For some people fame makes them want to shrivel up and become small. Others thrive off it. What's more, you cannot tell one from the other based on their public personas. It is only in the intimacy of their private lives that this may be obvious (unless, of course, they go public about their feelings). Think of the superstars who took their own lives, such as Marilyn Monroe and Nirvana's Kurt Cobain. To the external world, these people had it all -- fame, success, glamour -- but really they were feeling quite opposite in their hearts. To see them in public one would not have known they did not feel successful as a person.

The search for fame for fame's sake may be a way of numbing poor self-worth and is not a balanced state to be in. Many people seek fame to make them be whole and important. If people are not feeling balanced before being famous, fame will inevitably spin them off their centres even more. Wanting to express creative genius is a worthy cause that may lead to fame as a by-product -- this is a healthy state for us. Otherwise, people who want fame to make them feel better about themselves often crash when they discover that fame, alas, does not bring happiness.

And so, if you dream of fame, ask yourself if you are willing to pay the enormous price attached to it. But first ask yourself why you want to be famous to begin with. In terms of being successful in life, what is important is to define success not by society's values or by comparison to other people, or whether you achieve fame, but to define success according to your own values.

Success truly is a matter of the perspective you choose to take. If you decide you are going to fail, guess what...you fail. If you decide you are going to achieve, guess what...you achieve.

The key is to make decisions not out of self-doubt, fear, guilt, resentment, anger, jealousy or desperation, but make decisions out of love for yourself and what inspires your whispering heart. When you take this perspective, you experience a life of joy and meaning. This is true success.

With regard to your dreams, chances are the satisfaction and joy you glean from the creative process alone is juicy enough of a reward. The bottom line is this: you cannot lose! Regardless of whether a creative project gets finished or an idea goes to market or a manuscript gets published, you have much to gain by just enjoying the creative process. Throughout the process, you learn about yourself and feel joy while exploring your creativity and living the life you choose.

This is when you are successful.

What is your definition of success? I would love your comments.

Excerpt from The Whispering Heart: Your Inner Guide to Creativity, by Shannon Skinner. Note: an earlier version of this article was originally posted at www.ShannonSkinner.com