Dreaming. That word is littered throughout our culture, in songs, speeches and those motivational posters you usually see in offices that feature some sort of nature scene and inspirational quote. And yet, for all its prevalence, we sure don’t spend much time understanding what dreaming means, or how to get good at it. Let’s take a stab at changing that today.
First, what is a dream? Most people think of it as a lofty, romanticized goal that lies somewhere on the other side of the rainbow. Something along the lines of “I would win the lottery and buy a small island.” Let’s bring the focus of dreaming back from la-la land and into your everyday life. Dreaming isn’t reserved just for island-buying types. It’s for us regular folks, too. I am here to tell you that you actually could live your regular, normal daily life (which you might think is a bit uninspiring) enmeshed in hundreds of practical, real-life dreams, and in so doing live richer, more fulfilling and inspired days. No matter the “size” of your dream, having any dream is guaranteed to have a large impact on your life.
For example, what IS your dream for your relationship with your officemate? What is your dream for how you behave on the subway, or in rush hour traffic? What is your dream for how you interact with your children during playtime? Each one of these aspects of your daily life is an opportunity to create something great. You might dream that you and your officemate “get along great. When he sees me struggling, he steps in to help, and I do that for him, too. We support each other in division meetings and bounce ideas off each other to make our jobs easier.” By having a dream for your relationship with your colleague, you have a personally inspired basis for the relationship. You can then make choices that realize the dream, like stepping in to support him at division meetings.
When you have a dream for something, the dream calls the shots. In the absence of a dream, the thought chatter in your head calls the shots and you end up in a reaction mode to whatever happens in that realm of your life. Back to the example of your officemate, your dream for having a great relationship with him would dictate that you take certain actions, like regularly stopping in his office to ask how he is. Without a dream, the negative chatter in your head that says things like “he never stops into my office, why should I stop into his?” can call the shots. We all know which one will yield better results.
Given the power that we each have to design the small, medium and big aspects of our lives through dreaming, our job then becomes to learn how to become skilled, regular dreamers.
Most of us haven’t learned how to dream. To dream successfully, you must be able to sit down and ask yourself what you really want, and then listen intently to the response. What makes your heart sing and your mind proud, even if it scares you, and even if it may be a lot of work? Dreaming means learning how to identify who you really want to be in your life, and then breaking that vision down into daily practices of being that person. It’s all based on how you want to experience your life and what you’re willing to do about it.
The skill of dreaming is no small skill, folks. It is one of the most important for us to learn in our lives. We should be teaching this to our children in every grade, K through 12. And if we at the Handel Group® have our way, we will. But in the meantime, we adults have hope. Like just about everything in life, you master the skill with practice.
Here is a homework exercise for you to strengthen your dreaming “muscle.” Each day, I want you to dream about one thing. Pick an area of your life and dream about it for 3-5 minutes. For example, when I was first learning how to actively dream, I would pick a random career scenario, like “I am at the helm of the Clinton Global Initiative” or “I am an inner-city high school teacher,” or “I am the boss on an off-shore oil rig” (no joke, I really did do this one). And then I dreamed about what I would do in those roles, the people I would meet, the change I would make. I am not saying that I committed to any of them. Goodness knows I will likely never work on an offshore oil rig. But the point is to practice dreaming about something, anything. At first, this exercise was hard for me, and three minutes seemed to last forever. But the more I practiced, the easier it became to find what jazzed me up about each topic, and then expound upon it. Now, six years later, I am good at dreaming on command. Yesterday, while I was having a tooth drilled at the dentist, I spent that time dreaming about my schedule, and how fluid, yet punctilious, I was going to be about my time. You truly can dream about anything, if you want to. Best of all, it’s really fun.
What DO you really want in your life? Where could you be dreaming more, big AND small? How strong is your mastery of dreaming? And what practices will you take on to become an even stronger dreamer? Write me a note and share.
P.S.- Want to learn how to become a master dreamer? I lead a weekend workshop where I teach you how: the Life Coaching Crash Course. Register using promo code: Daily100 to save $100. I promise, these two days will change your life. (Locations include: NY, Boston, DC, Florida, California)
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Dr. Samantha Sutton is a Senior Coach and Vice President and Director of Courses and Seminars at The Handel Group®. Samantha designs and leads the Handel Group’s® flagship workshop, the Life Coaching Crash Course. Samantha additionally coaches at universities such as Stanford and MIT. Prior to becoming a coach, Samantha received a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from MIT.