Dream a Little Dream

Whose dream are you living? It’s a question that’s been tossing around my mind recently, and an important one to ask.

Our dreams can take different shape throughout our lives.  When we’re young, our minds are filled with the impossible: flying, invisibility, time travel. We soon reel in our active imaginations and set our sights on more realistic aspirations: owning a home, starting a family, traveling to faraway places.

Some of us dream of having more free time, and let our minds linger on how we would spend it. While others dream of a bigger home, a better paying job, or an easier commute.

If we were given the free time we so desire, would we feel at ease, or would we envy friends who spend their waking hours in a demanding job that they continue to look forward to going to each day? When we get a bigger home, would we relish our extra space, or would we miss the simplicity and comfort of our smaller dwelling?

Our society, driven by doing things bigger, better, and faster, no doubt contributes to our definitions of success and fulfillment. And can lead us to get carried away by dreams that, in reality, leave us in a state of constant craving.

Look around you. Each of our lives is filled with things that others dream of, and our own dreams are modeled after what we witness from the lives of others.

Can you reside in a dream space where your longings are as unique as the brilliant mind that wove them?

Maybe traveling isn’t your thing, and you’re more comfortable staying in one place, laying down roots, and welcoming others into your home. Or maybe you dream of downsizing, perfectly content with a smaller space for making memories. Maybe your goal is to find work that makes your heart sing, even if it’s not what you went to school for or doesn’t pay six figures.

Whose dream are you living? It’s wonderful to dream. It guides us, inspires us, drives us, and brings a bit of meaning to our chaotic and rich lives. Dream big. And small. Most of all, don’t judge your dreams by those of another.  Make them your own. Here’s a practice to guide you:

• Write down one big dream, one small dream, and one impossible dream.

• For each dream, write down a person, place, or life event that inspired you.

• Ask yourself, is this my dream, or someone else’s? It might even help to assign a value, such as 75% my dream, 25% my dream, or 100% my dream.

• Return to your list and for any dream that doesn’t feel entirely your own, think about how you can make it uniquely yours. For instance, maybe traveling to all 50 states isn’t quite you, but returning to a favorite city each year is.

• Make a final copy of your dream list and keep it somewhere you’ll see it regularly. Come up with a catchy title, decorate it, and return to it each time you need a reminder of what keeps you going.