Neil Patel

Influencer Neil Patel on the Importance of Hustling for Your Dreams [Book & Audio Excerpt]

The following excerpt was reprinted and selected exclusively for StartupNation readers from “Hustle” by Neil Patel, Patrick Vlaskovits and Jonas Koffler. Copyright © 2016. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.

It’s not enough to simply have a dream, you have to actively pursue it. Most people who talk endlessly about dreams but don’t do anything about them are effectively choosing not to choose, and they end up with a life they don’t recognize. They wonder why they feel so beaten down and defeated, but deep down they know they have another choice.

The truth is, over the long term you have only one good option: Own your dreams. If you refuse to, you become a tenant in someone else’s dream. Their dream becomes your reality. How does that feel? And just imagine what your boss, Bill Lumbergh, is dreaming about (Mmmmmmm . . . yeah) as he takes your red stapler and dismisses you to the basement again.

Some might ask if it’s possible to both rent and own at the same time. No. You’re either an owner or a renter. Renting might be necessary, but it must be temporary. If you’re renting dreams, you’re not building any dream equity of your own. So you must create an exit strategy that involves more opportunities to own your own dreams. And that’s precisely why you’re reading this book.

OD’ing on Dreams

Years before she transformed herself into the famed “Queen of Prime Time” (and long before everyone from your sister to your cat fell head over heels in love with dork turned McDreamy Patrick Dempsey), Shonda Rhimes, the creator of the television series Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, found that dreams didn’t push her forward but instead held her back.

Rhimes recounted this during a commencement address at Dartmouth College. “I blue sky’ed it like crazy,” she recalled. “I dreamed and dreamed. And while I was dreaming, I was living in my sister’s basement. Dreamers often end up living in the basements of relatives, FYI.”

Too much dreaming leads to too little doing. With daydreams, night dreams, dream boards, dream catchers, dream jobs, dream dates, we reach a catatonic state of overdreaming. We dream so much that we never move an inch from optimistic thought into full-motion fruition.

Anyone, even our best friend, Simon the dog, can dream.

That’s not the problem.

Related: Fail Fast in Order to Succeed [Book Excerpt]

Rhimes argued that it’s the doing, not the dreaming, that gets you to a place of fulfillment. “Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward.”

That’s sage advice, and just as important, know that owning your dream means going beyond just mere dreaming. In case you’re confused, here’s a simple rule to remember: Dream as a noun, great. Dream as a verb, not so great.

Owning your dream is the goal. Dreaming isn’t.

Life’s treasure map, the unknown opportunities ahead, can only take solid form once we move from OD’ing (overdreaming) to DO (dream ownership). This happens when we consciously commit to moving from overdosing on our dreams to executing them. It is then when our dreams are realized. This subtle yet profound distinction leads us back to the one acceptable conclusion, the one choice that matters most: We must hustle.

Nobody tells you this. The secret to getting ahead is based on manageable tweaks, not tectonic shifts. Neither blue nor red pill is required. And the best part is that you get to choose your own adventure. It starts as soon as you want it to, and provided that you’re still alive as you’re reading this book, it’s never too late to begin anew.

If you’re ready to begin anew, visit for free tools, resources, and more.

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“Hustle” is available now wherever books are sold.

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