Defining Dreams

Fuzzy cute people riding bikes
Credit: flickr / anabananasplit

Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture was, and remains, the most moving video I have found on the internet. It’s about how to achieve your dreams, but more than that – how to live your life.

The thing is, I don’t really seem to have the kind of dreams he had. So from time to time I think about that lecture and I wonder how to apply it when (as I wrote here):

…my dreams are normally very achievable – and depend more on my motivation, ability and finances than something rather arbitrary, like impressing one person for 45 minutes one Friday afternoon.

So lately I’ve been trying to find some things to dream of – these are so far somewhat nebulous – coding, creating, inspiring other woman to want to do the same.

What’s good is that I’m not alone in this. My friend Maggie and I have been talking about it a lot – what do we want to do? What are we worried about? How can we track down the projects that we would find exciting to work on within IBM?

We both want to be technical, at least initially, and we’re wary of being pushed down the manager track (or some other non-technical direction) – something that seems more likely if you’re a woman. Whilst we have really different interests and passions, we both want communication to be a key part of what we do. There are technical roles that require development and communication, but the thing is, where to find them?

Increasingly, I’m asking myself the question, what does my ideal look like?

I don’t have a clear idea yet – development, surely, and people – but can I get the people aspect in my downtime and through blogging? Ideally part of my job or some approved activity would be working to get more girls into computer science.

Is this too fuzzy? Do I really have to decide right now?

The thing that scares me about big dreams is you have to commit. You have to invest yourself in acheiving them. And what if you don’t?

The answer is in the lecture – you will still die, and you will die without an awesome story to leave behind.

A more terrifying prospect, perhaps.

6 thoughts on “Defining Dreams

  1. Love this post. I’ve been thinking a lot about this after reading this article: http://www.escapetheivorytower.com/2010/08/moving-beyond-talent-and-skill.

    I launched myself head first into a career path I never ever anticipated for myself. I was going to be a social psychologist for goodness sake and do research and solve world problems and yadda yadda. I always wanted to do work in psychology because that is my passion, but then things happened in my life that led me down a different path. And I discovered Human Factors and everything changed. It is so damn hard for me at times because I’m having to learn things from scratch that others have known since college. I’m not a science/math-minded person, but I know this is my calling and have to do what it takes to learn and grow. I know this is what I am supposed to do. I committed to this and it was so liberating even in all the stress I feel over it sometimes. ANYWAY… I loved your post and it is definitely something important to consider.
    This is one of my most favorite quotes in the world:
    “The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating — in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.” ~ Anne Morriss

  2. That quote is awesome.

    The fact that you are not science/math minded is difficult in a comp-sci related field, but it can also be a strength – we (programmers) need to create software, and devices, and experiences for humans, and we really need humans to cross over to our side to get their perspective on how to do that. Don’t apologize for taking a different path, embrace it. It keeps you a perspective that others don’t have.

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