Why We Should All Dream on Purpose
Set aside intentional time to dream about what you want. Put it in your calendar if you have to. After all, how are we supposed to live our dreams if we don’t even know what they are?
What are your greatest hopes for your life? Think about your practical desires and then the totally crazy ones. Do they come to mind right away, or do you have to dig around to name some ideas?
As we get older, I think it’s common to lose the art of dreaming. Probably because the more responsibilities fill our minds, the less space we make for anything else, and the easier it is to forget that life is supposed to be FUN. As we develop a sense of what's "normal," our vision narrows. We act like adults. We take on the temperature of the water we're swimming in.
When we're kids we think about the future all the time. Just the thought that something could be possible is enough to make our list of dreams. Why would we disqualify ourselves? And there's a certain energy within the desire to live the lives we imagine that actually drives us toward greatness. The problem is that we begin to slow down as we pass through doubt, fear, and opposition--kind of like running against the wind.
When I was a kid I remember having some specific ideas about what I wanted to do with my future. There were so many things I wanted to do--go to college, become a veterinarian, a psychologist, and a writer; fall madly in love, and see the most breathtaking corners of the world. Naming my dreams wasn't much of a challenge. It would be far more difficult to ground myself in harsh reality than to stop imagining all the possibilities.
As adulthood crystallized the fear began to set in. What if my life falls far short of all my desired scenarios? Do I even have the power to build the kind of life that I want?
That kind of thinking can get in the way of imagination. If we dwell on our fears then we start making concessions in order to feel safe.
Confronted with real world challenges like the fact that education and plane tickets cost lots of money, everyone we like seems out of our league, and technology is really confusing for some people (me), we are tempted to swap confidence for the crippling fear that our biggest dreams are too good to be true. That's when we put dreams in a room, turn off the light, and focus on everything that seems more pressing. Maybe we even stop thinking about those dreams sitting in the dark and they begin to lose their energy, like helium balloons slumping sadly toward the floor.
We can get so busy tending to daily tasks that we don't make space to do more than react. It's like life keeps pitching balls so you just keep swinging, too busy playing the sport to ask yourself if you even like baseball. What if you want to play something else!?
Our souls are fed when we pay attention to them, and connecting with our desires creates momentum. What do you crave? What's next? How do you want to grow? If you're happy where you are, that rules. But don't stop asking. Treat the art of asking yourself questions like a form of meditation.
Meditation takes many forms, and dreaming is one of them.
While it's quite reasonable for plans to change as we grow up, even toward the practical, I believe in the midst of becoming adults we do face the danger of becoming overly practical, of playing only in the realm of convention and certainty. We’re comforted by familiarity and begin to believe that trying a wilder path is only for a certain kind of person, like someone totally brilliant or from a family of wealthy investment bankers.
The more stories I hear, the more I notice that people who love their lives tend to have something in common: Regardless of how busy they are or what they see everyone else doing, they envision something they want, or a place they want to go, and they run after it with all of their ability. They simply have to know why they're running and be willing to take every next step, no matter the terrain.
Challenge: Schedule 15 minutes every week to dream. This can look like anything-- envisioning the perfect road trip, more time with friends, a more suitable job, or healthier relationships -- whatever more goodness looks like. Dream as big as you can. Try not to edit yourself. Choose a strategic time and place each week where you can think clearly. Also, consider if there are steps toward your desires that you can take today, but don’t be discouraged if you have no idea. This is just a practice. Let the energy of your thoughts awaken and expand your imagination.