Nothing happens unless first we dream.
Our dreams are often filtered through what we think is possible for us to achieve. If we want more substantial dreams, and I do, we need to change the way we think about ourselves and about our capacity. We need to increase our tolerance for disappointment, uncertainty and discomfort. We also need to surround ourselves with the right people.
Surrounding Yourself With the Right People
Rich Litvin says that if you are the most interesting person in the room, maybe you are in the wrong room! In these past months, I’ve felt myself figuratively moving into a different room – a room that contains some people who have enormous, life-altering dreams – dreams that could change things for entire communities or segments of the population. I am so inspired by these clients. Just having conversations about their dreams makes me want to contribute in some more substantial way. It makes me want to enlarge my own dreams, locate the obstacles that keep me from reaching them, and find a way over, through or around. When the dream is captivating enough, very little will stand in your way. Just being around people with big dreams can encourage you to have your own.
Artist Allison Crow captures the idea of a big vision in an energizing and captivating way. She makes me want to be open to a much larger dream.
What gets in the way of having more substantial dreams?
Increasing Our Tolerance for Difficult Emotions
In her Ted Talk, psychologist Susan David says she’s had hundreds of people tell her what they don’t want to feel. They say things like, “I don’t want to try because I don’t want to feel disappointed.” Or, “I just want this feeling to go away.” “I understand,” she says to them. “But you have dead people’s goals. Only dead people never get … inconvenienced by their feelings. Only dead people never get stressed, never get broken hearts, never experience the disappointment that comes with failure. Tough emotions are part of our contract with life. You don’t get to have a meaningful career or raise a family or leave the world a better place without stress and discomfort. Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.”
When we get more comfortable with difficult emotions, we will be more likely to allow ourselves to be in a position we might experience them for the sake of the ultimate outcome. Discomfort is the price of admission to a big dream.
Changing the Way we Think About Ourselves
Building confidence and learning to trust our abilities is all about deciding who we want to be and taking action towards that end. I become courageous by being courageous. I become compassionate by being compassionate. We build our capacity and trust in our ability by taking action without knowing how it will turn out. Confidence is a result, not a requirement for action. When we start to trust ourselves more, we will be open to letting ourselves have bigger dreams.
I haven’t yet found an enormous dream like some of the people that inspire me or like Allison Crow captures in her art. I’ve found some medium sized ones that feel both meaningful and still feel like a stretch. I’m learning to be open to bigger dreams and I’ve come a long way in that respect in these last years. What I’ve realized is that smaller goals can act as steppingstones to bigger dreams. Our confidence and tolerance grow as we take action towards these smaller goals. I continue to remind myself to let go of dead people goals – the ones that will have me living to avoid discomfort, disappointment and other tough emotions. I’m leaning into the notion that there is nothing quite like the energy of living in a way that feels like it has purpose and taking action towards that purpose. I’m digging into what feels like a meaningful life. Some are lucky enough to already know what that looks like for them, for others, it takes some effort to figure out. Both are fine. What is your version of a life full of meaning and purpose?
Let yourself dream.
This Week’s Photos
Dreams often come best in the half-waking of dawn when we are drifting and relaxed. In honour of dreams and taking action, this week’s pictures are some I captured while walking at dawn.
If you’re trying to figure out what feels meaningful or purposeful to you or you’re trying to make your big vision become reality, coaching might be a good fit. If dreaming is really hard for you, you might need to start first with some mental fitness training followed by coaching to build your confidence. Either way, I’d love to connect.