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Cate Ellink talks Dreams

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A couple of weeks ago there was a media furore over a guy (Jarryd Hayne) who chose to follow his dreams. Lots of people have dreams, rise to meet challenges, and work hard to improve themselves, right? So why the furore?

He chose to leave the game of rugby league, where he was one of the best, and leave the country, to begin again in a sport where he was no guarantee of success. He went from the top to start at the bottom – because he wanted the challenge. Because he wanted no regrets. Because he wanted to see if he could achieve his dream – making it in the NFL.

I guess if he doesn’t make the Superbowl, the media will say he’s failed. But maybe his dream doesn’t mean the Superbowl. Maybe he wants to make the top side in a club. Maybe he just wants to play one game. Maybe his dream is the experience, no matter how far he goes in the game.

And that’s the thing about dreams – they’re yours. Achieving them is all about what you set as the standard. No one else can decide if you’ve succeeded or failed. It’s your call.

With dreams, you can achieve them at any time. You can change them, add to them, adjust them. You can abandon them early, or strive for them all your life, or something in between. You don’t have to quit everything to reach for your dream…but you can if you want to.

Dreams are personal.

When I was a kid I had a few dreams. I wanted to move to the country, own a horse, have my own dogs. I probably also dreamed of Prince Charming and the Knight in Shining Armour and those things girls dream of, but I adjusted those as I grew up. I dreamed of being an astronomer, a biologist, a zoologist, an author, a vet. I wanted to own a racehorse that won the Melbourne Cup. I wanted to go into outer space. I wanted to be like Jacques Cousteau. It was so difficult to settle on dreams because there were so many options. So many paths to try. So many things to do.

My biggest and most chased dreams were to move to the country and own a horse. I did that by age 23, then a couple of years later, my horse died. I didn’t expect my dream to be so difficult, so heart breaking, so crushing. I didn’t dream for a long time after that.

Without dreams, I still did things I wanted to do. I just never called them dreams. I got another horse or three. I had dogs. Worked in science. Scuba dived, and also did a heap of one-off adventure activities.

Writing a novel became my next dream. It took a few years, lots of work, many tears, and much emotion to achieve that dream. And I want to keep doing this, keep achieving, keep improving.

I think to myself what a big sacrifice Jarryd Hayne has made to go after his dream…and then I correct myself. We all make sacrifices, big sacrifices, when we go after a dream. These sacrifices may not be as visible as the media made his to be…but we make them. We might leave people, or commit money, or time. We might take a risk of some sort. Whatever we sacrifice to achieve our dream, we do it with the best of intentions and with hope in our heart. Only we know if we achieve our dreams, and often you just don’t give up until you do.

If you’re chasing a dream – good luck! And remember it’s YOUR dream. Only you can judge if you’ve achieved it.