I think the whole idea of dream reaching has come up so much lately because I finally started doing something about my dreams this year. I turned 35 in January and noticed that most of the goals I had set for myself at 28 had yet to bet met. Every year I kept putting them off. I had excuse after excuse. And every time my birthday rolled around, I’d recommit myself. And every year I’d make more excuses to do anything other than what I felt called to do. So this year I said screw the excuses, barred them from my life, sacrificed what I needed to and put out over a decades worth’s of work with 4 fiction book releases in the first part of the year (with number 5 on the way) and launched my coaching programs. From that, it’s garnered some very inspiring conversations about goal setting and dream reaching.
I was in human resources for ten years of my career and it’s funny because in any role that I had in recruitment, I’d listen to some people talk in interviews and think, “This isn’t what you should be doing with your life.” Of course I’d have to move forward with hiring them if they were a strong fit for the job. But even if you’re good at your day job, it doesn’t mean that it’s the right job for you.
That’s the way it felt when I was in the corporate world too. I could be good at what I did, but it never fulfilled me. I was always left wanting more—let’s get my Masters, okay now my Doctorate, okay maybe a Masters in something else, and now let’s just do 15 different certifications because I’m not challenged enough. Now that’s done with, let’s go for this position. Then I’ll go for this one. And I’ll do this one next because I know I’m not going to like the next one even before I’m in it. And so on.
Nothing was ever good enough. Why? My soul wasn’t being fulfilled.
I’m not knocking corporate life or the people who enjoy moving up the ladder. Some people truly feel satisfied from that. It’s a mark of accomplishment, being able to get promoted and learn new skills and something to be quite proud of. I’m also not naive. I know money is an important factor and that people can’t just run off and do exactly what they want.
But people get so caught up in the “need” that they get scared to dream. Some of the best life rags to riches or off the street and into a mansion sort of stories start with the impossible becoming possible for someone who believes in it enough.
And I truly get sad for anyone not willing to dream—not because they can’t, but because they’re scared to.
I’m a visual person so I always see it as this. Despite the idea of a dream being positive and remarkable and exciting, when it comes to actually pursuing that dream, there’s a lot of associated negativity and resistance. It’s like a meteoroid that passes through the Earth’s upper atmosphere and heats up, turning into a scary as hell fireball. That’s exactly what happens when a dream breaks through the atmosphere of reality. It lights up and threatens reality as we know it, our safe zone.
The resistance hits from all side. When we dig in deep, though, most of it comes from us. Why can I bank on that? Because there’s a chunk of us who have never allowed ourselves to dream, a chunk of us who have dreamed but don’t want to share it with anyone else or admit it out loud, a chunk of us secretly trying to figure out what to do with it—- then of course the ones who are or have been chasing those dreams regardless of failures or wins.
Most of the reasons why we haven’t allowed ourselves to dream or haven’t shared it is because we are petrified of the unknown and immediately create these obstacles in our heads. We think we know people’s reactions so instantly put them in our path as roadblocks before even starting the engine. We think we don’t have time or resources because those are so easy to blame. We think we’re not good enough. We think other people can do it better. We think other people are already doing it. Maybe it’s a stupid idea and shouldn’t be done at all. We talk ourselves out of it before other people can.
And for those who have been bold enough to state your dreams out loud, you know the resistance that truly exists. The undercut comments even from those that should love and support you the most. It’s amazing how quickly people are to become “realists.”
Let me use a general example that I’ve been encountering recently. I really feel in my heart it’s time for us to move. As I get older, I become more in tune with what energizes me and I’m discovering that being by the ocean or around a bigger variety of nature like the mountains is more of what I need right now. I’ve really felt a connection to the Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts sliver of the U.S. specifically. But when I share that, oh, how quickly people are to squash it.
There’s never a good enough place to move when it’s completely different than where you are, right? As soon as I share my desire with people, I hear: Taxes are high. Winters are brutal. Hurricanes will threaten your door. Eww, really? Up there?
Listen, friends, family, sometimes even complete strangers may have your best interest at heart. Their criticisms may be something they truly believe is sound advice. But let me take this Maine example—every single person who has made a comment about the brutal weather or the high taxes or frequent hurricane risks or whatever else has never lived there. Actually, none of them have even visited (like I have). And I highly doubt any of them have studied the specific areas in and out (like I have) to at least gain an opinion from sound research. But when you hear those comments enough, it’s easy to want to push the thought aside. Maybe they’re right. Maybe it’s a foolish idea. Maybe I don’t actually know what the next best step is for our family.
As good as their intentions may be, those types of comments from people who are not educated or experienced in any part of your dream need to be discarded asap. Yes, even if they are family and friends. Those kinds of opinions hold no value. People will always have an opinion, and it’s time to start discerning which ones should actually carry weight based on the topic at hand. If someone came to me and said, “Hey, I lived in Maine. I know you well enough and listen, these are the reasons why you won’t like it,” then you know what? That’s an opinion worthy to consider.
Anytime there’s resistance to a big dream, it’s so easy to give it up. This is why people hardly finish a thought or a project or a plan. The resistance gets to be too much before it’s even finished.
No one except you knows your abilities and even WE aren’t completely aware of all we can do. So why let someone who isn’t you to set the limitations on what you can and cannot do?
When I knew I wanted to pursue writing full-time, I was so scared to admit it to anyone out loud. What if people hate my writing, what if I fail, what if I sacrifice everything for nothing. I’ve been fortunate to know exactly what I want to do since I was six years old. But I spent 29 years avoiding the fear of it instead of tackling it head on. At 35, I finally decided this was the year I stop being so damn afraid. So I’ve been putting it all out there ever since.
And as strange or as minor as it may seem, it started by me confidently stating that I’m a writer. It took a few times to say it without hiding my head in the sand afterward or mumbling it or lighting up all shades of red. Even when I had yet to complete a novel, I learned to say I am a writer. Because I am. It doesn’t take publications or awards or confirmation from anyone else that I am what I know I’ve always been. It takes me declaring it and making it true.
Someone once told me, “Lauren, you’re lucky. You turned a hobby into a career. Not everyone can do that. Not everyone can take something they’re passionate about or a hobby and make money off of it. It’s not realistic.” This is what I have to say to that: STOP being an obstacle. Stop the naysay. In today’s day and age, anything is possible. Anything. If someone can make a six figure salary playing pranks on an YouTube channel, do not tell me that you cannot turn your hobby into a career. The only difference between you, someone with a dream and these people on YouTube is that they believed in their idea enough to bring it to fruition. Belief. That’s the only difference.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve really believed some specific great thing would happen and it doesn’t. Time and time again. I think it just makes my husband who tends to be a little more skeptical, more cynical so that’s not great. But you know what? I’d rather have hope and truly believe these amazing great things are going to happen than to always have my guard up and not have anything at all. I don’t mind if it doesn’t work because at least I really believed and really put everything I had in whatever part I could have, and that’s better than not trying at all.
Maybe there are people who don’t care to dream. I suppose like dreams are such a high priority and passion of mine, to each their own, right? But I see dreams as reaching our fullest potential, pushing our capabilities to the extreme and creating something beautiful. It’s almost like superpowers for each of us, as long as we believe it’s doable, that what we see and dream and believe can be real. But it starts with embracing it inside, then stating it boldly to the rest of the world while we actively pursue it and break through the barriers.
Do not be afraid to dream.
Just be ready for the wild ride it takes you on.