Follow your dreams, no, your gut— and other cliches of success we need to ditch

Chances are you’ve heard one of the following clichés at one point in your life when seeking out career advice: “If you can dream it, you can achieve it;” “Pursue your passion;” Work hard, dream big;” and “Follow your dreams.”

It might have been a graduation quote, or at a conference from a motivational speaker. You may have seen it emblazoned on the front of a greeting card to commemorate one of your life accomplishments, or on Instagram where the post has garnered thousands of likes and reposts.

They are clichés intended to make us feel inspired to go for the next big thing, a reminder to stay focused on the grand prize of that imaginary picture of success we all have. But how do these clichés work in the real world where things are not as simple and clear cut?

It is time to get real about what it means to achieve in the real world and move past the clichés. Your success depends on it. Let’s take a look at the most famous clichés rewritten as real-world advice.

If you dream it, you can achieve it adjust accordingly

It all starts with a dream–the dream college, the dream job and the dream life. Knowing what you want and being able to imagine it first is essential to achievement. If you can dream it, more than likely you can map out a plan to go after it.

The first step in moving past this cliché is knowing that following your dreams will often involve detours, failures, pitfalls and disappointments. It often involves dismantling the “master plan” and having to create a new one. It means revisiting who you thought you would be and accepting you might want to be something else.

Know that dreams will change throughout your life and you will be in redrafting mode often. Dreams evolve at the same speed that you are evolving as a person. One minute you can have a dream of owning a house and a car and another minute you are dreaming of traveling the world — and this can be said for all other dreams you may have.

If you can dream it, you will learn that real life will make you adjust accordingly when you begin to face obstacles and setbacks on your journey. When you have an epiphany about that dream job you thought you always wanted or that life you always chased after, you will be faced with going back to the drawing board.

Being able to pivot and to draw wisdom from the trials and tribulations is what will make your accomplishments so much more meaningful in the end. Accepting that it won’t be linear is the first step in maintaining your focus on any dream.

Know that in real life, you can continue to dream as you evolve and adjust those dreams to your new realities. It won’t mean you’ve failed in achieving anything, it just means you are accepting you will always be in a state of growth — an essential place to be to make strides in success.

Pursue your passion purpose

Everyone has a passion. It can range from politics to non-profit work to the arts. Our society has always been enamored with the idea that simply having a passion and focusing solely on that can grant you the key to success. Just pursue what you are passionate about and everything will fall into place, right? Wrong.

We’ve all heard the stories of people who have tried to follow their passions and have had to switch gears in order to make a better living or maintain a family. Just because your day job does not revolve around your life passion does not mean you haven’t unlocked the key to success.

Having a passion in life and being able to make a living off of it is wonderful, but oftentimes that is not the case, especially if you are just starting off in your field. Know that this is okay. The good news is if you cannot pursue your passion to make a living, you can always focus on pursuing your purpose.

You can find your purpose by analyzing some of your passions. Does your passion involve helping others? Does it involve contributing a special skill? What can you take from your passions and make relatable to your current situation? Take a closer look at your passions and you will find there is often a deeper purpose that can translate to any job you may have.

By finding your purpose you will open more doors and possibly find you have more than just your passion, but rather a mission that can carry you through many careers and down many paths in life.

Work hard, dream big then, work harder

“Work Hard, Dream Big” is one cliché that almost nails it, but in the real world it goes more like this: Work Hard, then Work Harder. Following this revised version is where you will start to see the fruits of your labor.

Finding success at any stage of your life means putting in the extra effort. Going above and beyond the expectations and going the extra mile. When you work harder, you shine brighter.

When you bring your all to a job, you establish yourself and your brand at the top tier level. And in order to maintain this status, you will have to continue to work harder every single time as you raise that bar.

Every step up, you will be required to outdo the last. So, yes, keep dreaming big but know that you will be tasked with working even harder as you inch closer to achieving that dream.

Follow your dreams gut

As noted earlier, your dreams will evolve. You will change and your notion of what real success means will also change. This brings me to the final cliché reworded for the real world: Follow Your Gut.

As you move throughout life, do not depend on the dreams you have drafted to be the definitive guide, because they will change over time. Instead, follow your gut as you move through jobs, friends, and life and use it as your compass. It will never fail you. Your inner voice will dictate what direction you are being drawn to and often times there is a good reason for it. It is taking you to a place you belong to.

Learning to trust yourself is the key to achieving success on your own terms. You are the only person who will know what is best for you. You are the one who will determine what true success looks like.

At the end of the day, your life and dreams cannot be captured in a cliché; they are far too complex. Remember to stay agile with your dreams, find your purpose as you analyze your passions, work harder every single time and follow your gut; this is real-life advice that goes beyond the clichés to help you move closer to what you really want in life.

This article first appeared on Create + Cultivate.