Maybe you can relate, maybe you can’t, either way, a lot of people struggle to pursue their dreams because it is overwhelming. In fact it might be so overwhelming that you don’t bother to dream big anymore. In this episode we’ll share a few things to remove overwhelm. But first, what is a big dream?
I love this definition from Sharon Hull “it is the seed of possibility planted in the soul of a person, which calls them to pursue a unique path to realize their purpose.” Now as amazing as that is, it does sound heavy. And this is why dreaming big can be overwhelming. It is abstract. We daydream, we dream at night, and we dream when we envision goals. In this instance, when we say “dream big” we are referring to your ambitions.
Even though our ambitions should excite us, they so often lead to more confusion and overwhelm. That is because in order to get there you have to go towards scary experiences. When we move toward scary experiences, the dream blockers can enter. Things such as fear, doubt, perfectionism, regret, stress, and peer influence. In later episodes we can go more in detail on the dream blockers, and defining our dreams, but for today, let’s lay the foundation for being less overwhelmed by dreaming big in the first place.
In order to dream big, pursue your ambitions, and not be overwhelmed, it helps to keep eight things in mind.
1. Dreams are bigger than you are ready for. I love comparing this to the story of the Grinch’s heart. If you watched the classic Grinch story you would know that his heart was two sizes too small. Well big dreams are kind of the opposite, our goals are made two sizes greater than we are ready for so that we can grow into them.
2. You don’t have to be like Peter Pan and never grow up to dream big. Many people maintain the ability to dream throughout their entire life. But, this ability may have been stolen from you. There are two prerequisites to dreaming big. First, confidence, not in the actual skill, or goal (that is a chicken & egg thing that comes with practice) rather confidence that allows you to genuinely ask the question “why not me?” And secondly, imagination. How can we dream of something that does not exist, and fantasize about a better world, if we don’t first reconnect with the child like ability to create characters and worlds that don’t exist yet?
3. You don’t have to work very hard to find your passions, because they will find you. You do have to try things though. So, it starts with thinking of things to try, trying them and comparing them to each other until one stands out as something you really vibe with.
4. The act of pursuing your dreams is about feeling vitality throughout the process. That’s the top-secret tip that will help so many of you. While we set goals to give us a north star to aim for, accomplishing them is not what actually matters. What actually matters is the life that it affords us, the mental health and vitalty we gain from working towards it.
5. The classic line, that every journey begins with a single step brings cliche, but powerful insight, as long as you use it. Don’t look at the huge mountain, look at the next step. The trick becomes figuring out, what is the next step? We can do more on this in future episodes as well, but effective goals are designed by looking at the big dream and working backward.
6. There is a good chance that other events, or people in your life, typically by accident could have crushed your ability to dream big. Parents, teachers, coaches and friends are known to discourage people from dreaming big. Be humble enough to take feedback, but drown out any of the haters and background noise by falling in love with what you are working on. And be sure to have some supportive people around too. Regret is the internal version of this. When we work down a dream path and it blows up in our face, especially if there are things we could have done better, it can be very discouraging to start over. But with the right mindset, the starting over can become the most fun part. To free yourself from regret remove the tendency to look at results.
7. Don’t become addicted to the short-term rewards of safety and comfort. If you become the hero of your own story it will be because you got clarity on a goal, and overcame the natural tendency to stay safe and cozy, metaphorically by not pushing yourself, or literally by getting your ass off the couch and into the game. Once you know the dream and destination, it is actually reassuring to know that motivation will not help you. You must set systems and habits, such as a schedule to accomplish the goal.
8. It seems trite as far as wise sayings go, but it honestly is the most important one. You are going to die relatively soon. That’s just a fact. Even if you live as long as possible, it will still arrive soon enough. Therefore, you might as well enjoy pursuing your passions and spending time in a state of flow.
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