Why I Embrace the Angst of Pursing Big Goals


We who fight for our dream suffer far more when it doesn’t work out, because we cannot fall back on the old excuse, “Oh, well, I didn’t really want it any way.” We do want it, and [we] know that we have staked everything on it…”

-The Alchemist


I was in tears. I remember sitting in the car with my dad, grasping for some sort of definite sign, some sort of concrete assurance that one day the dream that I wanted so badly would become more than that.

I wanted it. I needed it. I desired it at a depth that I couldn’t place or describe, and as I described it to my dad, asking him how I could know that I’d get there some day, I cried.

What made it worse was that he couldn’t provide me that assurance. He couldn’t predict the future, and it would have been a cruel risk to say to me, “Yes, Brian, I promise one day you’ll play music for a living, you’ll hear your song on the radio, you’ll perform in arenas in front of thousands.”

That was all I wanted to hear. I bargained with God. I was superstitious about it, too. I would make up things in my head, like “If I finish tying my shoes before this chorus hits, that means I’ll make it.” Sometimes I would beat the made-up clock, but it didn’t make me feel any better.

Of course, if I didn’t make it to the stop sign before the guitar solo ended, then I was pretty sure it was a valid test, and I would never be a rock star.

It all sounds silly—unless you’ve wanted something so badly you could taste it. You could feel it. Achy in your joints and causing your heart to beat irregularly.

I feel similar feelings now—albeit dampened and curbed by a little life seasoning and wisdom—and I’ve learned to embrace them.

These feelings are no longer the angst of becoming a professional musician. By majestic Providence, I was able to live out a pretty exciting version of that dream. Now these new dreams are a little more lofty, and a little more ambiguous.

They have to do with ultimate fulfillment of my potential, ultimate realization of who I can become: an inspiration to those around me; as close to perfect as a father can be; an eternally faithful husband; a hero to my sons, a giver to those in need, a champion to younger siblings, a pillar to my family, excellent in my ambitions and responsibilities.

In The Alchemist, the author contemplates why anyone would undertake such lofty goals if they simply lead to heartache, if indeed the pursuit of such ambitions ensures that “we will suffer far more.”

Why did I put myself through that? Why do I still?

His conclusion:

In the silence of our hearts, we know that we are proving ourselves worthy of the miracle of life.

I agree. I know that I have this life now, and I won’t later. At some point, my 70-year-old sons will be sitting together on a porch, talking about their late father. And they’ll say things about me to my grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Now is my chance to author those conversations.

Life is a gift. It is a beautiful and fleeting gift that I intend to deeply appreciate in deed. As in, by my actions.

I want to prove myself worthy of having been given this gift.

And that is why I embrace the angst of pursuing greatness in this life. Because in the silence of my heart, I know that there is no other way.


  1. Greg Michaels says:

    Brilliant and well said.

  2. Meredith says:

    Great post!

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