[Note: This is the 1st article in the series How to Make Your Dreams a Reality.]
We have all had incredible dreams at some point in our lives. As children there are no limits to our imagination. We want to become a space ranger, a superhero or a magical medicine woman that saves lives and whisks people off to safety in the face of impending danger.
When we’re young we’re told that we can be that space ranger or have that amazing life that we dream up in our racecar bunk bed. We can do anything we want if we put our mind to it. Right?
Then something strange happens. When we get a little older, dreams don’t seem to be so important anymore. The letter grade you receive on your math test is more important than the amount of fun you have on the playground. The GPA you earn in high school overrules exploring the creative pursuits of your time. Eventually, choosing a career that is practical and safe is more crucial than one that you’re actually remotely interested in.
So what do we do? We fake interest. We squeeze and strain our feelings to pretend that we’re okay with what we’re doing. The reality is that we’re not.
We’ve given up on our dreams. We’ve traded happiness for security.
Because no one was protecting our dreams. We believed that it was more important to be practical and productive. We believed that our dreams were just silly fantasies, conceptualized from the foolishness of imagination.
What happened? Why did we stop believing?
We got responsibilities.
So we started believing that:
- Taking out the trash and doing the dishes was more important than having fun. Because something terrible might happen if we have a less than perfect home.
- Competing with the lifestyles of your neighbors is more vital than how you actually feel about what you’re doing. Consumerism is more important than freedom right? I don’t know about you, but I want freedom that doesn’t just mean consumption.
- We think that’s important to be “somebody.” If you don’t have x title, you’re not somebody. If you don’t have x level of schooling, you’re not accepted in y social club. If you don’t keep up a certain image of who you want people to believe you are, they might actually find out that you don’t really care about fitting in.
- Security is more important than being excited about waking up.
The thing wrong with this whole picture, is that we have a tendency to think life is so black and white. It’s either yes or no, right or wrong. So we settle. We trade a part of our soul to the 9 to 5 devil. We trade a piece of our happiness for comfort. It doesn’t have to be like that.
Another big part of the problem is this:
Dreams are reserved for fantastic and unimaginable feats
We see dreamers as people who believe in and do the impossible. Daredevils who lock themselves inside of a cage full of hungry tigers to fight to the death. Or an intrepid thrill seeker who dives in search of treasure in a long lost shipwreck.
But that’s just an extreme end in the spectrum of dreams. Your dream could just mean the freedom to stay home with your kids and run your own business from home. Your dream might be to publish a novel, even if only 7 people read it. Your dream might simply be to not die with your music still in you.
If we want to save our dreams from certain death, we have to fight for their sovereignty. We have to keep believing that they are possible. Even if they seem ridiculous. Even if they don’t seem socially acceptable or our cog no longer fits in the corporate machine. Even if that means doing something beyond your known powers.
So if we’re going to preserve our dreams from the onslaught of routine, we’re going to have build a vision asylum, a sanctuary for our dreams.
There’s a lot of different paths you can take to creating a dream sanctuary. Your choice will be different from others, because your dreams won’t be the same as everyone else.
Here are a few suggestions:
- A place that inspires you. This is will be different for everyone. It could be somewhere that has an amazing view; a mountain, bridge, a beach. Or it might be your own backyard, or your own porch. The point is, is that it’s something the inspires you.
- Theme song. I know this sounds incredibly cheesy, but just bare with me for a second. I’m not talking about “I will survive” or “We Are the Champions” (unless that’s your thing, of course). It could be a symphony, a rock ballad. Whatever it is, it should be something that moves you every time you hear it.
- A place within your mind. This could be a “dream house” in your mind. It could be the clearing in a forest, or somewhere near a waterfall. I personally am not big on visualizing, but I wanted to list it here because I know it really works for some people.
- A picture. Do you have a photo of your dream house? Is your dream to be a professional baseball player? Then your “dream sanctuary” could be a poster of your favorite baseball player. Use whatever excites you, and whatever gets you motivated.
- An object. If you’re a more physical person, you could use a crystal necklace, a bracelet or some other object as a visual mantra.
My Dream Sanctuary:
This is the view from the Colorado street bridge in Pasadena, where I often cross when walking to work. My mantra this year has been “liberation” and something about this place inspires me. Maybe it’s the vast expanse of the trees and life that lives in this valley. Whatever it is, this is where I keep my dreams. This is where I let them live and make sure they never die. If I’m having a rough day or if I feel frustrated with not accomplishing my goals, I can go back to this place, either physically or in my mind. It helps me recenter myself and gain perspective. Most importantly, it keeps my dreams alive.
It’s important to remember that dreams are realized one day at a time. Your liberation from dead-end pursuits might take a year or 3 years. Simply creating a place where you can visit your dreams isn’t enough. The point of the sanctuary is to keep our dreams alive, not caged.
So we have to take action toward our dreams. In order to do that, we have to return to uncommon sense, the next article in this series. Come back next week to find out exactly how we reject the mainstream and start living in the unstream.
Make sure your dreams stay alive by joining the Paid to Exist tribe: