Saying nay to the naysayers


Have you ever had a crazy dream, an impossible goal for yourself?

I did. When I started my consulting services, I realized that for the first time in my life I could work on whatever I chose. But what did I want to do? Decision analysis, certainly. But what else? I thought about my long-term goals and realized that ever since I was 15 years old I wanted to do scholarly research in mathematics. Don’t laugh! I know, you are probably thinking, “She can do whatever she wants and she wants to do math?” I got that reaction from a lot of people.

I can’t explain it, but that’s my long-term passion and I’d let it slip away. That’s easy to do. My family wasn’t asking for it. My colleagues weren’t asking for it. My clients weren’t asking for it. It was just my own little private passion, buried under all the other demands on my life. Then a few years ago, someone asked me about some math research that I had done many years before, and that lit a little spark. It reminded me of my forgotten goal and I, bam, planted a signpost and built my own crossroads. I visualized my alternatives. On one hand, my consulting business with lots of time for traveling and relaxing. That looked nice. As I visualized the other path, the one leading to my crazy goal, it was covered with warning signs: You’re too old! You’re not a man! You’ve been away from it for 30 years! You’ll never catch up! No one will take you seriously! But in the far distance, beyond all the warning signs I saw beautiful research, new ideas, the borders of knowledge being pushed forward. I had to do it. It hasn’t been easy, but after a couple of years I discovered and developed some new research findings. I even presented my findings to an international math conference in Germany. It was all very exciting and fun.

I was lucky to have someone remind me about my crazy dream, because that reminded me to dig it up out of the clutter of daily life. There are two barriers between you and your goals. One is the naysayers who tell you it’s stupid or can’t be done. The other is the ease at which all our dreams get swallowed up by the demands of daily life.

Do you have a crazy dream? I’ll bet it’s not as off-the-wall as mine! Have you rediscovered it after many years? What was the trigger that brought it back to life?

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