There are a number of reasons I decided to come to law school… One of the more difficult realizations of the past 3 years is that ‘becoming a lawyer’ is NOT one of them. Instead, law school has brought me face-to-face with my desire to equip and encourage other people through writing and speaking. You probably realize how disconcerting this is, given the healthy six figures (and thousands of hours) I’ve sunk into my pursuit of a JD!

Fortunately, I have come to embrace law school as an integral part of the explorative process I needed in order to come to terms with my dream. In fact, it positioned me to reach out to new mentors, including several authors. Nevertheless, the question as to what propelled me to law school remains! You may likewise find yourself in a similar situation: Every day you wake up and give most of your time to some occupational or educational endeavor. Why?


Assuming you’re pursuing a dream, it’s worth asking whether it’s your own – or someone else’s! There are several ways our dreams are susceptible to being hijacked, sometimes imperceptibly. Wrestling them back is one key to living a happier, more fulfilled life, and anyone can win the match!

The process starts by identifying the hijackers; here are a few common ones:

  • Parents – Generally, your parents have the earliest and most formative impact on your self-perception. Their example is comprehensive and the values, interests, responses, and attitudes they model affect you deeply. Some parents make their expectations very apparent, while others may propel their child on a particular course by virtue of neglect. Some parents invest in their child’s self-efficacy, while others leave their child haunted by a phantom of inadequacy.
  • Friends  Friends too can motivate us positively or negatively. In high school, I absorbed a particularly nasty comment from a close friend after my class awarded me a gratifying senior superlative. My friend’s comment hurt me at the time, and stuck with me long after I forgave him. I wonder to what extent that comment has driven me! Honestly, I know it subtly influenced my decision to come to law school.
  • Society – This may be the most insidious offender! Society provides an ever-present bevy of apparent ‘dreams’ to aspire to. Its influence extends from the socks you wear to the product in your hair! Advertisements demand your attention, imply your failure to measure up, and conveniently offer products to mitigate your shortcomings. Don’t fall prey to the deception! That ‘dream’ car is NOT your dream! As Helen Keller wisely recognized, “Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not gained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
  • Significant Other – Sometimes a significant other can push you in a particular direction, weighted heavily toward his or her vested interests. I’m not referring to legitimate concerns manifesting themselves as resistance to a particular course of action (i.e., issues which require grace, humility, and communication). Instead, I’m referring to manipulation. I know that’s a strong word, but it’s also a common problem.
  • Teachers – Euphemistically, this is anyone in a position of authority or instruction in your life (e.g., pastor, boss, etc…) who thinks he knows what’s best for you. If such an individual is intelligent, kind, or successful, it can be tempting to give more credit to the opinion than necessarily appropriate. Don’t forget, while insight is often helpful, nobody else knows your interests or desires like you do.
  • Yourself – What? … Yes, you read that right. Maybe you are hijacking (sabotaging) your own dream! It’s easy to make excuses or blame others for your inhibitions, but you do have a choice whether to embrace your challenges or learn to move past them. Ultimately, you can’t blame anyone else for how you choose to live your life: You decide to be hijacked, or do the work necessary to overcome your obstacles.

“In the name of being sensible, many people ignore their desires. They undertake a career to please their parents, their spouses, or others. That may make them dutiful, but it will not make them successful. You cannot achieve a dream that you do not own.” – John Maxwell

Every day you wake up and give most of your time to some occupational or educational endeavor. If you suspect that the thing you’re pursuing isn’t your dream, you owe it to yourself to determine whether your dream may have been hijacked! While it may be difficult to acknowledge the truth you uncover, the opportunity to pursue your true dream is worth your effort. Most importantly, you have the ability to overcome whatever handicap you face to recognize your true desires, re-envision your future, and make the most of your time and effort!

Leave a Comment: How have your plans, goals, or desires been influenced by others? Are you aware of how your vision for yourself has been impacted (positively or negatively)?

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