Do you remember back when you were a child, how easy it was to dream? You wanted to be a firefighter, a gymnast, or perhaps a professional football player. You wanted to walk on the moon, be a horse jockey, or if you were me in the second grade, a rock climber.
It was easy, and effortless; back when your parents and kindergarten teacher told you that you could be anything you wanted. But then as you got older, something changed. Suddenly instead of pretending you were in a submarine discovering Atlantis, it was all about getting good grades in school. Now instead of wanting to be a ballerina, you were expected to want to go to college, to study something practical that had a good chance of landing a high paying job – oh, and I suppose it could be something you like to do as well. It was time to be responsible and leave childish fancies behind.
So you probably did what I did, and conformed. I went to college, studying something that had a high job placement rate. And to be fair it was in a field I was interested in, but the kind of jobs it lead to I wasn’t thrilled about. Still I played along, doing my best to seem eager to learn and succeed while I put in an average amount of effort for average results. I didn’t want anyone to know I was different. Clearly this is what I was supposed to want, so why did I feel so unsatisfied?
Yet I pushed through it. I graduated, and landed a job in my field right out of college. I was making enough to pay the bills, put some in my 401k, build up my savings account, and still had enough left over to do fun things occasionally on the weekend.
But I still felt restless. Something was missing, something very important. I’d forgotten how to dream.
I’d grown so use to accepting what everyone around me told me I should want that I forgot to listen to what I really wanted, in fact I hadn’t thought about it in so long I’d mostly forgotten how. After this wake up call, I spent a good four months wrestling with the idea that my life is my own to live as I see fit, and pondering what I wanted to do with it, and how to make that happen.
The biggest dream was my decision to travel and live full-time in a RV. There are other ones though too, smaller ones, ones that don’t require turning your life upside-down to achieve. These smaller dreams are also important, and often they are things that you could be working on, right now.
Have you given much thought to your dreams lately? If you haven’t, here are a few pointers to get you started.
First, turn off the TV, computer, or any other distractions. These are your dreams we’re talking about, and you owe it to yourself to give it your whole attention. If your still having trouble coming up with something, try getting out of your home and going somewhere different, like a park. I find that I’m able to think more creatively when I’m outside of my normal environment. As far as the format, that’s up to you. I personally put all of mine big and small onto a bucket list, and organized them by how soon I intended to accomplish them.
A lot of times, people don’t know what to start with. What kinds of things are worthy of being on your dream list? The answer is that they can be as big, small, or crazy as you like. You’ll probably end up with a combination of things you want to do, places you want to go, and things you want to own. What is important is that they are things that you want. For instance, don’t put down that you’d like to own a huge home entertainment system, just because you think it’ll make you look better/cooler/more successful to others. Remember we’re trying to move away from what everyone else thinks we should want. If, on the other hand, having a huge home entertainment system is something you’ve dreamed about having for years and you feel it’ll add real value to your life, go ahead and put it on your list.
Take as much time as you need. You might not be able to finish the list in one sitting, and that’s okay. It’s also okay to add and subtract dreams from it as you discover new things you want or decide there are things on it you no longer really want. You as a person are not static; your dreams likewise will change with time. If you’re doing it right, you’ll never make it through your dream list. There will always be more stuff to do.
Some of your smaller dreams will probably be pretty easy to achieve, now that you’ve identified them. Maybe one of your dreams is to try a certain kind of food. An online search for restaurants around where you live that serve that kind of food won’t be too hard to do. Ask around at work or in your community to get advice or reviews of restaurants that serve that type of food. If you live in a more remote location you might have to travel a bit to get to said restaurant, and in that case you can always plan to go when you’re going to be in that neck of the woods anyway. If you want to make the experience even more memorable, try inviting friends or family along with and make an event out of it.
Then there are the harder dreams, the ones that require more time, money, or commitment than you can currently put forth. For instance, that huge home entertainment system probably isn’t going to be cheap, and learning how to play a musical instrument often takes many hours of practice. Overcoming the obstacles of money and time will be the focus of the next two posts in this series.
In the meantime I’d like to know, what are some of your dreams?
This post is first in a five part series. For part 2, click here.