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‘8 Out Of 10 Filipinos Do Not Have A Dream’

‘8 Out Of 10 Filipinos Do Not Have A Dream’
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You are advised to dream big, but what if you don't even have dreams to begin with?

This was something we noted among young people – students and newbie workers who attended our seminars and training events across the country a few years back. When we asked them, “Do you know where you are going?”, we found that many of them think they do, but probing further, we discovered together that their direction seemed to be going around in circles. This is one of the reasons we started an advocacy group called Project Purpose back in 2018. We help our participants determine their life purpose and lay down their life goals.

The observation is consistent with a nine-year study conducted by Dream Project PH founder Prim Paypon that showed that eight out of 10 Filipinos do not have a dream. The study covered 614 Filipino teenagers in 54 provinces from different socioeconomic classes across the country. They were asked to answer the question, “Do you have a dream in life?” Their answers were indefinite.

Here are five reasons why:

First is lack of conversations. When you need to nurture a child's dream or a young person's purpose, you need to have consistency in conversations. Normally this happens at home or in school, but the consistency and the lack of it is a major concern. (In his 2014 TEDx Manila Talk, “Imagineering a Dream,” Paypon specifically noted the that mere words could discourage dreaming among the youth. So there is not just a need for conversations, but a need for encouraging conversations.) To nurture a dream, they need to be mentored.

Second is a lack of role models. Many in our generation have had mindsets shaped by the previous generation where this thinking prevails: “You study so that you can graduate, so that you can get a well-paying job.” To whom can our young generation look to envision a purpose for their lives beyond a well-paying job?

Third is a limited perspective. Here's where your mindset comes into play. If the youth are not challenged and encouraged to see that they can make a positive change in their community or circumstances, chances are these will limit the future they carve out for themselves. A child is bundle of possibilities and we need to help them explore those options.

And this is connected to limited opportunities. My wife's educational philosophy professor once referred to “educational inflation” where so many people keep pursuing graduate degrees to get better career opportunities among a sea of college graduates. But the problem is, do we have job opportunities for everybody?

Last is limited resources. We're talking about the economic situation of the country. If you were born into a family in survival mode, pursuing your purpose or dream might become the least of your priorities when your immediate goal is to get food on the table for your family. Sadly, majority of our countrymen face this harsh reality.

If you notice, out of the five reasons above, the first three are relational factors. It turns out that discouraging words from others were the most common reason behind the phenomenon, followed by the lack of self-esteem, and the lack of passion. These may not immediately be connected to one's financial situation. This tells us that parents, teachers, social workers, and mentors can leverage on simple conversations to help children and teens have dreams, pursue a sense of purpose, and chase after these dreams.

And you can, too. If you feel lost this 2022, not knowing what to pursue, challenge yourself to overcome the five reasons our youth are not pursuing dreams. Answer the following questions:

Do you need to have open and life-giving conversations with someone who can mentor and guide you about your dreams or purpose in life? Seek out that person. Seek out the coaching and/ or counseling of people who are willing to offer that.

Who are the role models worth looking up to and approaching? In this digital age, you can access just about anyone, and just about anyone is willing to help. But in my experience, the ones who can strike a chord in your life are those who are closest to you. So build that relationship first with your role model and prospective mentor.

How can you better your opportunities? One of the programs I teach students is Ken Blanchard’s program on Self-Leadership. One advice we give young people is to self-diagnose and identify their development levels, then initiate conversations with adults who can help them – be it their parents or teachers. And this is where your prospects become brighter because your growth areas are identified and attended to.

And to my fellow adults: Many of us adults might be clueless about the developmental needs of young people under our watch, much more their dreams and aspirations, until they tell us. So let's be ready for that conversation! A quote making the rounds these days on social media (which I found out now is attributed to Egyptian contemporary poet Sharouk Mustafa Ibrahim) is a good reminder:

May you never be the reason why someone who loved to sing, doesn't anymore. Or why someone who dressed so uniquely now wears plain clothing. Or why someone who always spoke so excitedly about their dreams is now silent about them. May you never be the reason someone gave up on a part of themselves because you were demotivating, non-appreciative, hypercritical, or even worse – sarcastic about it.

The last reason from the study, lack of resources, might be a roadblock for many to dream big. But if four out of the five factors limiting one's ability to dream are covered, then the odds are in your favor. Besides, when you dream big, work hard, and make it happen, you help alleviate the economic situation of our country.

In Project Purpose, we believe that we can help equip the young generation of today not only to pursue their dream, but to fulfill God's calling on their lives. We aspire to guide young people in discovering their purpose, designing their life around it, determining their destination, and fulfilling their promise before a watching and waiting world.

Here are some free resources available from Project Purpose:

Teaching videos on YouTube

Devotional reading materials

Download the FREE ebook

You may also follow Project Purpose on their Facebook page.

About the author

Boris Joaquin is the president and chief equipping officer of Breakthrough Leadership Management Consultancy, Inc. He is also the founder of the Project Purpose Team, Inc, a corporate educator under the Duke CE Global Educators Network (UK), an accredited facilitator by the Blanchard Institute (US), a Chartered Professional in Human Resources CPHR® and a registered Investors in People® (UK) specialist.

A management and marketing professional, Joaquin was involved in various industries both local and international for more than two decades. As corporate trainer, management consultant and executive coach, Joaquin has served organizations in the Philippines, Asia, and the Middle East, providing assessments and consulting services to help organizations improve their people, management and organizational processes. He is presently the regional representative for Lead Like Jesus in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Joaquin is married to Michelle and has two daughters, Ysobel and Julia.