Dreamers. People who dream, imagine and create help fill our world with wonder and invention. Our society would become stagnant, decay and crumble if it were not for those that dream big and then pursue those dreams. But sometimes even our dreams stall. They become an anchor weighing us down, an anchor we cling to regardless of the threat of drowning. When you feel as if your dream is taking its last dying breath, its time for a reality check.
Okay, I see that look and the not so subtle eye roll. A reality check? Really? But its a vision, a dream, something wanted, wished for, worked for. Dreams aren’t supposed to be based in reality, are they? Trust me, I do hear you and no, I am not here to discourage you from pursuing your dreams. Just the opposite, in fact. This article is here to give you encouragement to follow your dreams but also to assist you in making your vision a reality.
Together, we’ll take a hard look at identifying what you are trying to accomplish. We’ll discover what your vision actually is and how to nurture it. We will also take a hard look at what tools and experience you may need to make it happen. Included in this article are tips on how to get your dream back on track if it is stalled or even broken. By taking the time for a reality check you will be better able to keep moving your vision forward.
Reality Check #1 – Putting a Name to Your Dream
I feel that the number one thing that makes our dreams fail is that we don’t actually know what it is. We may say: “I want to write.”, “I dream of traveling more.”, “I want to start my own business.” Yet, we never actually define what the thing is. We don’t put a name on our dream.
For years I wanted to make Witchcraft my life, my work. I thought about, dreamed about it, but I never really put a name to it. At the same time, I wanted nothing more than to write and make a living with my writing. After years of my dreams stalling and never being realized, I finally put the pieces together. I put a name on my dream, Author.
This may sound overly simplified, but it changed everything. I had direction, a purpose. Both of my original visions now melded into one. I would make Writing about Witchcraft my life’s work. So how do you put a name on your dream?
- Identify your dream. – Write it down. Start with the simplest version, perhaps “I want to be an artist.”
- Define your statement. – Using the example above, define why you want to be a artist. Jot down all the reasons for why you feel you wish create art. Don’t think it through, just write it down.
- Read out loud the reasons you just jotted down. Does anything on that list make you feel happy? Do you keep going back to a specific word or phrase over and over again? Perhaps the word “ceramics” keeps drawing your eyes back to it or an inflection in your voice is different as you say it.
- Take that word or phrase and write it big and bold on a separate piece of paper. Place the paper someplace you won’t see it. Then leave it there.
- In three or four days, take it out again. Speak the phrase or word out loud again. If it still resonates – you’ve placed a name on your dream.
Reality Check #2 -Nurturing and Feeding your Dream
Now that you have taken the time for a reality check and have defined and named your dream you can start (or restart) the process of nurturing and feeding it. This can be the most difficult part of keeping your dream afloat. Why? Generally it’s because when we dream we often forget that dreams take work. They may take specific knowledge and hands-on experience to bring them to fruition. We may think that we have all the skills we need to make our ideas a success, but even if we start with all the right knowledge, times change. You may have to refresh your knowledge base and skill sets from time to time to keep up with the latest trends. Below are a few ways you can nurture and feed your dreams.
- Take a class – Sounds like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised at the resistance I find to that suggestion. Learn a new technique or revitalize an old one. If your dream is to be a tax consultant, take specific classes on the areas you are unfamiliar with.
- Find a seminar in the area on your subject – Seminars are usually a one to two day commitment, can include a wealth of information and are usually fairly budget friendly.
- Subscribe to a journal or magazine about your chosen dream – There seems to be a magazine, newsletter or journal for nearly every type of profession, calling, or job. Subscribing and reading these can keep you up to date on new trends, styles, tools and information.
- Work on your dream – Every. Single. Day. If you aren’t nurturing it, it will fail. Even if its something small, like picking colors for a new glaze for your pots, do it.
- Have a visual reminder of your dream – Place it some where you will see it often. A simple 3 x 5 card with a word written on it stuck to your bathroom mirror makes a great daily reminder.
Reality Check #3 – Resuscitating our Dreams
Let’s face it, even if we think we are doing everything can to make our dreams a success they can go under. We are then filled with disappointment, frustration and even grief. You may even feel a sense of relief when it fails if keeping the dream alive has become a burden instead of a joy. So how can we go about resuscitating our dream? What tools can we use to resurrect it from the rubble of mismanagement, indecision or indifference? While I can’t give you all the answers I can share some insights and tips that have helped over the years.
Is it indecision that is crippling your dream? If you can’t decide how to move forward you will never accomplish what you want. Being the consummate Virgo, I have lists for everything. Is it just because of my Virgo analities? Nope. It’s because they work. A list forces me to decide what I need, what tools and knowledge I require to move forward. A pros and cons list can aid you in deciding a new course of action for your dream – weighing the good and bad of what you wish to do. If you are still feeling indecisive after your list making, share them with a friend or friends. Perhaps a fresh perspective will aid you in making a decision.
If mismanagement is pulling your dream under then you may need to pick apart your current way of doing things and come up with a new, more innovative style. Let’s face it, if you’ve been writing a book for years but have never sent it off to a publisher, you are mismanaging (and self-sabotaging) your dream. If your dream involves creating art but you’ve never taken the time to research galleries or art shows to display it, you are mismanaging your dream. Resuscitate it by making the leap and calling that gallery to see of they’ll add you to the next showing. Get a literary agent and have them review and send solicitation to publishers to get that book out there.
Reality Check #4 – Identifying When a Dream has Gone
We’ve talked about ways to feed, nurture and if necessary, resuscitate our dreams. However sometimes we just can’t bring our dreams back, no matter how hard we try. We all change and grow. What once was a perfect vision, a dream to end all dreams, may look different a year from now and that’s okay. Our dreams, once so bright, shiny and exciting, no longer resonate, no longer serve us. How do we know when it is time to let it go? How do we identify when a dream is gone. We look for signs of neglect and decay.
If you’ve been neglecting your dream, ask yourself why? What has changed? Does it no longer feed my soul? Is it a lack of self-confidence that makes me put my dream aside instead of pursuing it? Did I jump into it without thinking it through? Does it still have meaning, importance in my life? Be honest with yourself. Don’t try to sugar coat it. If the thought of continuing to pursue this dreams makes having a root canal seem like a Sunday picnic, it’s time to let it go.
It’s okay. Continuing to try and rescue a dream that is already face down in the water is a waste of our time, effort and a drain on our physical and emotional health. Give it a funeral, a fabulous eulogy and send-off, grieve over it and then move on. Acknowledge the journey this dream took you on, relish the knowledge and insights it brought you, then release it.
No matter what your dream is, always be sure to check in on it regularly. Make time for a reality check weekly or monthly to keep yourself and your vision on track. By learning the signs of when to nurture and feed your dream you’ll be able to keep your vision afloat on your ocean of success. May all your wonderful dreams and visions become a reality!