You might not realize it. But it’s very possible you’re not dreaming “big” enough.
Oh, I know — I, too, thought I had gone as close to the edge of realistic possibility with my dreams as I could. With every dream there does come a point where you have to ask yourself: “Am I really capable of doing this? Do I have the resources and time and capacity to make this happen?” Sometimes, you do have to make adjustments.
But that should NEVER stop you from aiming high. And strangely, it is much easier to say this when it’s someone else trying to hold you back than when you are the one holding yourself back.
We get so caught up in our own thoughts and beliefs that we often don’t even realize when we are talking ourselves so far down we become convinced what we want, at least in some capacity, is not possible.
But it is. At least, it is if we MAKE it possible.
I used to have big dreams. And I mean Big Dreams. I remember attending a music camp the summer I turned thirteen and thinking, “I’m going to keep working hard and I’m going to stop being scared to sing in front of people, and I’m going to make music and be a performer. I can do it.”
There are many reasons I eventually put that dream on the back burner — not having the motivation to train hard enough to be better at something you are not naturally good at really makes it hard to keep a dream alive. But over time that dream also lost its “excitement factor” for me.
That’s really important, by the way — being excited about the thing you keep telling yourself you really, really want to do. Because, as I now know from experience, when you lose that piece of it, you stop wanting to try. Especially when things get challenging. Especially when you have to choose between making your dreams come true and … well. Other things.
I’m not much of an active musician now, and that’s probably for the best. But in many ways, I replaced that dream with a different one — to write, or maybe even publish, a novel. Not because writing came more easily to me or that people told me I was “good at” it. But instead because writing, it turns out, is something I am very excited about. Enough to start and maintain a blog for over a decade, I guess.
For a long time, I figured I was set. I was going to write a book! Or publish a book, maybe even change some lives along the way. I had plans.
And then I realized that was not the only thing I actually wanted. That was not my only dream.
I have learned many things this year. But one of the most shocking is that I have, almost without realizing it, kept my dreams so small and “safe” that I’m miserable.
How do I pull myself out of that misery? I ask myself one two part question: “What is the one thing you want to do that absolutely terrifies you, and why aren’t you doing it yet?”
A dream that counts is one that makes you feel giddy. Even if, realistically, you know it isn’t going to be easy to achieve, you are excited — and at the same time probably terrified — to try.
You have to, somehow, figure out how to be both serious and enthusiastic about the dreams you transform into goals. You have to be realistic, yet you have to somehow be brave enough to reach higher than you ever have before. You have to let yourself say: “This is going to be hard but I’m going to do whatever it takes.”
You have to tell yourself: “I don’t know if I am going to be able to do this, but I am going to try.”
Because even if you never do end up achieving the exact dream you originally wanted to, at the very least you will have learned so much, and grown even more.
In the end, that’s all that matters, isn’t it? That you do the best and appreciate every moment along the way.
Whatever your dreams are, I hope you make them big. And I hope you let yourself fall in love with them so much that you can’t help but dance around and enjoy every moment of your journey.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.