The Generation of Dreamers is Dead

by Alexander Heyne · 16 comments

“The boy didn’t know what a person’s “destiny” was. It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their destiny is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their destiny.”   – The Alchemist

The Boy in Search of Wonders

I think it is more than just coincidence that The Alchemist is one of the best-selling books of our time.  It addresses a very fundamental question in life: that nagging wondering of whether or not we have a purpose or specific mission.

Think about it: little kids always ask parents “why? why? why?” because they need answers that make sense to the world, and they need purpose for doing things just like adults.  We all need a reason.  Eventually we get so fed up of trying to think through answers, we resort to the “Because I said so! Now eat your goddamn frosted flakes!

For those of you who haven’t read the book, it’s essentially about a boy who finds this dream, follows it through a bizarre set of circumstances and coincidences, is tested and suffers, but eventually is rewarded through his journey.

It describes the boy’s dream as our individual fundamental purpose in life, without which very little is worthwhile.

The reason this book falls into my all-time favorite list is because it is directly in contrast to how I see most of the people I know living their lives: as drones buzzing from task to task.  This is the new lost generation.

A Generation of Lifeless Souls

We all fall into the category of “lifeless soul” from time to time.  It happens.  But the scary thing that I’ve noticed is that a huge percentage of the people of meet I would place in this category on any given day.

These kinds of people are content with the consume, purchase, consume, purchase lifestyle which never seeks to go beyond basic needs.

In Maslow’s hierarchy, qualities relating to self-actualization don’t even begin to cross their mind.

Beyond that, these people tend to be notorious cynics, downers, are captivated by material things and potentially have addictive personalities, and dreams are nothing but fantasies.

And in their defense they are being rational. Unsurprisingly, Maslow describes the percentage of the population with self-actualizing tendencies to be that “top 1%”.

But this is how everybody else lives life, so it’s okay, right?

Leaving aside the diseases of civilization for a moment, we can call this the psycho-spiritual disease of modern man.

Discontent. Later we’ll talk about the roots of discontent (they are myriad), but for now we’ll talk about the tangible qualities of those who have clear ambition, focus and dreams.

Their personalities are different, their walk, talk and smile is different, and the way they influence the sphere around them is much different.

The Carrier of Dreams

A brief intro to the character of someone who has obvious dreams and ambition: They tend to be more self-directed,  internally motivated, tend to fall into the entrepreneurial (think: dreamer) mindset, inspire those around them, and above all — have a clear sense of direction.

 Regardless of whether or not they are actually currently on a straight road to their dreams, they always have a goal in sight.  Always working towards something tends to be a consistent trait of highly successful people.

Because it comes natural – people who know what they want become leaders and they immediately become that 1% talked about in the About Me section.

The rest are totally satisfied letting someone else do the hard work that requires vision, and simply want to be told what to do.

The Coffee Shop walk

The next time you walk somewhere with “ordinary people” around, think about which category these people would fall into, based on what you observe.

Ask yourself if those people seem like they have that aura about them, the look in their eye, the emotion behind the smile, or see if they seem like they are going through the motions, without any life shining from their eyes at all.

Tell me what you observe, and think about which category you want to be a part of.

Some Last Food For Thought

I think the following quote is going to be ever more important as time goes on.  For my fellow lost 20 somethings, and those who have visions of greatness in their future, we need to make this our motto:

“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

-Steve Jobs

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

wenwens September 7, 2011 at 10:35 am

I’m glad to be among the visitors on this fantastic web site (:, thanks for posting .


afheyne September 7, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Thanks for coming, 你是中国人吗?



Daniel October 18, 2011 at 8:37 am

Nice article, and I am enjoying reading through your blog archives. This blog, 4hww blog, IWTYTBR, and the leo babauta blogs are my top most-read blogs now! :)

Keep the articles coming!!!


afheyne October 18, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Thanks Daniel, great to hear from you. Definitely stay tuned for more!

– Alex


Niki June 10, 2013 at 3:05 pm

I remember when I first read this book. I woke up one morning and some friends were arguing about something. Trying to make some sense of what they were saying, one of them mentioned this book. 4 hours later I bought the book and read it the same day. It’s one of my favorite books.

I agree with you. I look around and see a lot of people with dead dreams. I asked a person some time ago about his dream and things he wants to do in life. He gave me a weird look and told me that he’s not a child anymore.


Alexander Heyne June 10, 2013 at 3:16 pm


Those people scare me more than anything. I run as fast as possible in the opposite direction :D


Me April 8, 2014 at 8:06 am

I discovered this blog at midnight wondering what the hell I want to do with my life. Now, I’m wondering why the hell this doesn’t have thousands of likes. Amazing blog. Thank you so much! And I’m sorry this comment is unrelated to the post…


Alexander Heyne April 8, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Haha, glad you enjoyed it :-).


Ashley May 18, 2014 at 2:50 pm

I’ve become so frustrated with my life and so lost i just googled “what should i be doing at 20″ and I’ve spent the past hour devouring your blog posts. Everything you say resonates with me, it’s nice to know I’m not the only twenty something who feels like this. Everyone i know needs to read this.


Alexander Heyne May 19, 2014 at 11:54 am

Glad I could help Ashley :-).


EYang May 26, 2014 at 9:54 am

I was feeling very down lately and feel that life is pointless..then I came across your site and have been reading many of your posts for the past hour. I can’t say it’s all clear to me now but I sure do feel a little better. Sometimes I just feel like crying cos I don’t know what I’m doing and where all my drive in life has gone. There were some parts in your posts that made me shed some tears as they really hit the nail on the head. Thank you for your wonderful wisdom. :)


Alexander Heyne May 27, 2014 at 12:10 pm

You’re welcome Eyang :-). Just keep pushing forward, focus and put your head down and make it happen.


Zimzam July 16, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Very good stuff on this website. I feel like I have to read everything. Discovered it today.

As someone mentioned above, I’m surprised how few the comments are. Perhaps it is hard to find through Google.


sydney January 23, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Hi Alex, wow what is there to say that hasn’t been said (in the surprisingly few comments). You have a clear vision and should have a big readership! Anyway, I’m glad I found you here, your articles are very inspiring. Thanks and best of luck to you :)


Alexander Heyne March 6, 2015 at 5:11 pm

Cheers Sydney :-)


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