Dreams Versus Aspirations

Working at McDonald’s is teaching me that “Dreams” and “Aspirations” aren’t the same things–even though we sometimes use the words interchangeably.


Dreams are ideas we like–ideas of ourselves, of where we want to be, of how the world should be–but don’t strive toward. Dreams can be simple, but more often, they are far-fetched and difficult to reach.

A perfect example of a dream is the slothful McDonald’s worker who claims they will “be rich when [they] grow up” or will “be going to college someday.”

People with dreams are like Eugene O’Neill’s “Jimmy Tomorrow.” They want something but they don’t plan for it.

“I’ll have it/do it someday,” they say, “but not today.”


Aspirations, however, are goals that we want to reach.

There are three differences between having a dream of becoming a doctor and aspiring to become a doctor. Aspiring to become a doctor means that you have researched (or are willing to research) how to become a doctor, you are on the path to become a doctor and you are willing to pull yourself over and around obstacles to become one.

These are the McDonald’s workers who tell you, “I’m doing this to cover college expenses for now” or “I’m saving up money for medical school.” They view their undesirable situation as a stepping stool rather than a job–and yet they’re often the harder workers.


Hopefully you don’t just have dreams, hopefully you have aspirations that you are working toward.



  1. EFoley said,

    July 20, 2012 at 01:50

    You’ve identified what I think is a vital distinction, Marg. I wonder if our dreams can sometimes even stand in the way of our aspirations?

  2. July 22, 2012 at 23:02

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