This past week, I met with one of the college guys I mentor. As we talked about his expectations for the semester, he confidently proclaimed that he had finished thinking through his plans for the rest of his time at school.
I decided that I would push a bit further.
“That’s great! What are your dreams for the future beyond college – how will life look when you’re 25, 35, or 55”? I asked.
He responded, “Well, I’ve never really thought about that. I guess I don’t really dream.”
My protégé’s response is one that I find common. Many people don’t know how to dream anymore. When I prodded him to think about his talents, passions, abilities, and desires – and all the attendant possibilities – he became more excited. The light went on and dreaming began.
What about you? What are your dreams? Maybe you could gain from the following insights related to dreaming:
Dreaming is unleashing your mind to envision outrageous possibilities.
Too many people don’t dream because they are bombarded with the notions of practicality, sensibility, and caution.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these considerations – in fact, they are needed to keep us responsible. However, they can also be deterrents to unleashing our minds to dream. Being able to craft a vision apart from life’s practicalities is a prerequisite for seeing ideas come to life and desires materialize, and it is integral to dreaming. The writer of the wisdom book of Proverbs says, “Where there is no vision people perish” (29:18). What would life look like if you unleashed your mind to future possibilities?
Another deterrent to dreaming comes when we allow ourselves to dream and then add a ‘BUT.’
- BUT I could never do that.
- BUT I don’t have the resources.
- BUT I’m too old, young, busy.
- BUT . . . etc.
“You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream.”
– C. S. Lewis
Dreaming is birthed in purpose before it becomes reality.
Long before your dreams becomes a reality, you must ask yourself questions about why you want to accomplish this dream; how it plays your gifts and abilities; what you hope your dream contributes to a greater story; etc…?
Not only will the answers help to solidify purpose that will propel you to action, but they will help you articulate the dream. Failure to answer these questions always keeps the dream ethereal.
I’m fascinated with the dreamer, Walt Disney. Disney saw his dream purpose as entertainment that educates. This permeated all that he did, from illustrating stories that develop strong morals, to helping improve the quality of urban life in America with his dream of EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow).
Dreaming is enhanced and realized in community.
Sharing your dream with a confidant, mentor, or armor bearer can often take you a step closer to making it a reality. By verbalizing our dreams we become more accountable to accomplish them. Others can share our dreams and help us gain insight on what needs to be accomplished, define steps to get there, and be the constant cheerleaders who keep us moving forward. Walt Disney’s dream came true even in the midst of adversity because his brother, Roy encouraged, sustained and helped keep Walt dreaming and moving forward.
Dreaming demands fortitude.
No dream becomes reality without meeting adversity.
You may encounter ‘haters’ who will attempt to kill the dream or pragmatists who will tell you that there is no possibility of accomplishment. You may even encounter well-meaning friends who give negative advice that will rob you of the joy of dreaming. You need to resolve to push forward despite these.
Walt Disney’s dream of being an artist-animator-entertainer was often on the verge of extinction under the hand of a stern father who couldn’t see it providing for a family or putting food on the table. Young Walt resolved to make his dream come true by sneaking out of the house at night to be a part of a theater group or to do commercial drawings.
You also need fortitude to barrel through the hard work it takes to make your dream come true. This can often breed discouragement. Any dream worth achieving demands hard work. If you fear this or are easily defeated you will never see your dream come to life.
Before Disney became the dream pioneer and legend of the 20th century he encountered many derailing speed bumps including rejection, working out of a filthy garage, and bankruptcy of his first animation company.
“Mickey Mouse popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad . . . at a time when business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at lowest ebb and disaster seemed right around the corner.”
– Walt Disney
Dreaming involves taking risks.
This is where the daring comes in – realizing a dream means taking risks.
Risks may mean failure and loss, but a dreamer who accomplishes dreams takes the risk again and again. Risk may involve the scary investment of finances, time, or other things that sustain our sense of security – but if you don’t take the risk, you’ll never realize the dream. I already shared that Disney experienced the death of his first company in bankruptcy. Yet he took the risk to start again.
Everyone has the ability to dream and to accomplish his or her dreams. Whether it’s raising healthy children or venturing into a new business, we encourage you to step out – to ask and answer the necessary questions, to recruit armor bearers to come along side you, and to take the necessary risks.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.”
– Mark Twain
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