I don’t know about you guys, but when I was a kid I was a big picture dreamer and planner. One of my favorite assignments ever was in my 7th grade health class where they made us write down our future timeline. I was going to become a physical therapist while playing in the WNBA. Marriage would happen around 28 and we’d share this amazing condo in downtown Minneapolis. Kids would fall into the equation around 32 or 34 and around that time I’d retire from the WNBA to launch my own therapy clinics for children (because, obviously… children lol). We’d then move out to a farm where we’d have goats and horses.
Man, wasn’t it easy to dream when you were a kid?
But then adulthood hits.
And for me personally, my lens had to narrow and the goals fell out of my line of sight. Now, perhaps some people will laugh when they read that because in the last decade I’ve published three books and ghostwritten a few others. But for me, writing my novels never felt like a goal. Getting them published? Yeah, that was a thread of a dream I had had since first grade. But I honestly didn’t feel like I had an option but to write my novels. The stories demanded to be told.
Books aside, my life quieted the muscles that allowed me to plan and dream. Things happen that require visions to shrink to immediacy. Our first year of marriage was hard. Thank goodness we’d been a team since we were sixteen. Our past and our love for one another helped us fight for our relationship through a dark depression my husband never saw coming. That was my first taste of needing to put dreams down, set them aside, and just focus on the present.
And you know what? It was a good thing. Same with having three babies in three years. I mean, who really can even fathom what they’ll be doing five years down the road when you can’t snag more than an hour of sleep at a time? And that year of my life where health issues reigned down on me like a monsoon? Yeah. Pretty sure I was not planning out my dream career while I struggled to simply stand in the kitchen to make dinner for my kids.
But through it all, there was this sense of something missing within me. Almost a darkness that begged to be filled with light, and if you are feeling this right now I just want to reach out and say it’s ok. I get it. There are some seasons in life where dreaming past a hot shower is unfathomable. But I’m also here to encourage you that the season will pass and when you can flex your dream muscles, you should–even if it hurts, because we were all created to dream.
I don’t exactly know when it started but gradually over the last year my ability to dream returned. My mind flexes now when I gaze out a window, simply enjoying the day dream of giving a presentation to a group of avid listeners or welcoming people into my own eclectic boutique from behind a unique hand made sales counter. And guys, I don’t even want a boutique! BUT I’m having so much fun dreaming about the possibilities of it. I’d have these gorgeous marble countertops featuring bohemian earrings and… Well, I digress. Back to dreaming.
The point is that dreaming is fun! And goal planning? I’ll be honest–aren’t I always honest?–it can be scary. There are many emotions wrapped up in writing down even the simplest of goals. Am I being realistic? Am I short changing myself? Is this ridiculous? Is this accomplishable? …How dare you think you deserve that in your life.
But here’s the thing– We all deserve to dream and reach. Yes, we may have to bend when life requires us to, and at times there are seasons where we need to push pause on dreams. But never give up on your ability to dream.
One of the most amazing gifts of being a human is our ability to think, wonder, and ponder over our futures, and I so want that to be part of my life. And I want that to part of your life too!
So if you need a little nudge, here are a few ideas to get yourself started.
- Play a what if game! — What if I could travel anywhere in the world? What if I had an endless bank account? What if I was a super hero? etc. This is a really fun game to play with girlfriends over a cup of coffee or on a date!
- Challenge yourself! Try something new for a month. One of my sister in law’s does a great job of this! For this month, she’s trying to make a new recipe every week. It’s seems simple but these little changes and acts will get your gears shifting, flexing those dream muscles without even trying!
- Start a few journals. I have three journals. Yup, three! One is a journal where I write letters to God. This is my primary journal. The other is a gratitude journal. And my newest addition, is my dream journal. This is a flexible space where I have lists, photos, will write down song lyrics, etc. It’s a place where I allow my dreams to bend and shape. It’s a place that’s SAFE, where my only rule is that I can’t hold back. All three of these journals are so good for my soul and have helped me work through so much. Or if you are a visual person, make a vision board!
- Listen to TED Talks during those mundane times. My favorite time to listen is while I do the dishes or fold the laundry. here are some suggestions! Try Something New for Thirty Days– TED talk by Google Engineer Matt Cutts, Success Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating – TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love), How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over (love this one!) – TED talk by Mel Robbins
- Be graceful with yourself. This is a process. It will ebb and flow, some days developing rapidly and other days it’ll move like molasses.
- Get a planner. This “planner” can be as easy as a blank notebook–and sometimes those are the best! I love a blank page where I can add my daily “to-do” list with big boxes so I can check things off. Then I have my “Health and Wellness” section where I write what down my workouts, any appointments/therapies, and how much water I drank for the day. And then I have a section where I write my overall goal for the week, which contributes to one of my big picture goals. …And guess what? Some days, I never check one thing off the list, or write a work out down, and my goal can get unmet. BUT THAT’S OKAY. This is a process? Right? See #5.
- Take time for you. This is SO important and your family and friends will be so thankful if you do. You will be happier and during this alone time your mind will naturally turn toward hopes and dreams because it’s what we are made to do. Bring one of your journals with you, say a prayer, and put your pen to the page. What you write down may surprise you!