When is the last time you dared yourself to dream?
Somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, we lose sight of our deepest dreams and all of the things we want for ourselves and our lives. We tell ourselves what’s the point, I won’t ever have that, or I can’t do that because of [insert excuse here], but really, we stop dreaming because we sneakily avoid holding ourselves accountable for taking action towards our dreams. Instead of spending the time dreaming up what we want in all areas of our lives, and admitting to ourselves what they are, we cowardly avoid it all together because we can’t face the fact that even though we are responsible for our own dreams becoming a reality, we continue to day in and day out, not take any action towards them. We would rather not admit to them at all. How sad, right?
I am currently reading a book called Maybe It’s You by Lauren Handel Zander and she is a wizard in helping people from all over the world get out of their own way and not only realize their own dreams, but finally do something about them all. I won’t share my opinions on the book quite yet, but there is an exercise in the beginning where you are to write out your dreams in all 12 areas of life that I think is particularly interesting and exciting.
If you want to start living your dreams, first you need to identify what those dreams are in the following areas:
- Fun & Adventure
- Community & Contribution
Do you remember how to dream?
The key to writing out your dreams is to remove any negative feeling and any negating words. The point is to write these out as if they are already happening and as if you are already living them. Describe them in detail, describe how they make you feel, and be very specific. This is the part where you have to be honest with yourself and remove anything that might hold you back from writing out your own truth. Nothing else matters – not whether or not they can happen, not whether or not someone else reads these – write from a place of inspiration. Dig deep and find what sparks your soul and what you know would make you happy.
This can be a very exciting exercise and one of significant self-discovery. It could unfold some new dreams you never realized you had because you never allowed yourself to spend time dreaming of them, or affirm some existing dreams you’ve long since tried to make a reality.
To sum it up, here are high-level steps to keep in mind when writing these out:
- Be specific; capture what your dream looks and feels like so you can fully visualize it.
- Write in the present tense; it keeps you accountable and allows you to accept that this is your dream.
- Be kind; focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.
- Be honest; admit to everything you want, otherwise how can you fix what isn’t working now so you can get to what you truly want?
Here’s an example taken from the book itself of how a well-written dream may sound:
The area is SELF:
When I walk into a room, people want to know me. I’m that guy Bold, happy, and unstoppable. I am always looking for the next adventure. I am proud of the contribution I am making to the world. I am decisive, transparent and, did I mention, confident. I am exceeding my every dream and then some. I am a leader everywhere in my life: professionally, socially, and with my family. Yes, even mine! I am a masterful ring-master, proud of the difference I have made and how open, honest, forthright, and fun I am with everyone. I am deeply happy.
How motivating and inspiring is that?
Don’t be discouraged if you’re finding this to be a little bit more difficult than you originally thought. We have spent so much time not dreaming that of course it is going to be hard or feel a little awkward at first, but if you keep working on them, you’ll eventually get them right. I am currently on draft #2 of most of mine and am still finding it hard to allow myself to dream. The hardest part is the actual dreaming – what do I really want, what would this look like if it could be the exact way I want it? Those are hard questions, but I just start writing. Then I edit. Then I get more specific. Then I describe.
You’ll know it’s right and complete when you are able to read it back to yourself and it makes you smile and feel motivated, inspired, and excited, just as reading that above example made you feel. When you can’t help but feel completely overcome by happiness in reading it that you can’t wait to get started on making that dream become a reality, then you know it’s done.