What is dream? According to the Oxford English dictionary one definition is: “A vision of the imagination indulged in when awake, one prompted by desire, hope or ambition“.
As women, we are often conditioned to be practical and put other people’s needs and wants before ours. ‘Indulging’ in dreaming or pursuing our dreams often feels like wasted time as women have been culturally conditioned to believe that some of our dreams cannot become reality, or we feel we do not have what it takes (time, skills etc.) to realise our dreams. Denying ourselves our dreams or putting the pursuit of our dreams last on the priority list, often leaves us feeling frustrated, not good enough and/or stressed.
There are a number of common pitfalls that I found many people encounter in the pursuit of their dreams, and you might recognise yourself in some of them:
You focus on what you don’t want, and not what you do want
When going on a journey, no one would ever say, “I do not want to go to France, Germany, Italy, US etc” when they wanted to go to e.g. Spain. And ideally you would specify where in Spain you would like to go. Unfortunately a lot of people tend to do that with their dreams. They tend to think about what they don’t want about their current life, instead of what they want in their future life. As a result they tend to get more of the same of what they have now.
Have you ever noticed that when you focus on a certain topic that all of a sudden you spot it everywhere and lots of different bits of information or opportunities in relation to that topic come your way? That is exactly how it works with your dreams and goals. Therefore, instead putting your focus on what you don’t want, put it on what you want, and you are likely to get it.
So ask yourself: What specifically do I want?
Make sure whatever it is that you want, it is stated positively. Our mind is configured to process only positives, i.e. if I am now asking you to not think of a pink and green striped elephant, what are you are thinking of? If by any chance, you come up negatives i.e. what you don’t want, be playful and turn it into a positive and affirmative statement. It might take a little and it is very worth it.
Dreams are too vague – make them real to you and as specific as you can!
Studies have shown, and this is also borne out by my coaching and consulting work, that we do need to know the ‘what’ of our dream(s) (in a business setting, a dream is usually called a vision), and we need to know it in some detail to make it real and allow us to recognise any opportunities that take us closer to achieving our dream along the way.
The key question to ask yourself here is: What am I seeing, hearing, feeling or saying to myself when I have achieved my dream?
A key tips is to just focus on answering the question, without going into any potential obstacles to your dream. If any obstacles, doubts or negative self-talk comes up, my invitation to you is to write it down and deal with it once you have gone through the rest of the process.
Dreams are not clearly linked to what is important to you in life
Often our dreams (or goals for that matter) do not motivate us as much as we expect them to , they don’t feel quite right or they do not quite make sense to us. The two key reasons usually are
- we are conflicted due to limiting belief (see my blog article on obstacle strategy) and are sabotaging ourselves along the way.
- we do not have the ‘goal beyond the goal’, i.e. we have not connected the dream to what is ultimately important to us. And often when we make that connection, the dream can change into something that more real and feels more motivating to us.
So, when you think about your dream or what you want, ask yourself: Why is that important to me? What does that give me?
I invite you to write down your answers, and for every answer ask the questions again, write down your answers and ask the questions again, and do this about three to five times. My key tip would be to do a short meditation before you ask yourself those questions, and just let your answers flow.Once you have completed the exercise, review your dream in light of your answers, and check if there are any changes you need to make to your dream, what has happened to any obstacles identified in the previous step and what other options to fulfill your higher values opened up for you.
Not knowing the ‘how’ stops you from taking the next step
Many people believe that they need to know ‘how’ to achieve their dreams before they can take action. It is one of the main reasons why people don’t realise their dreams.
If you are grappling with the ‘how’ question, my invitation to you is twofold:
- Ask yourself: what resources (and that includes your skills, capabilities, friends, family etc) do have that will help me to realise my dream? And what resources do I believe I need at this point to take the next step?Focussing on the entire dream is often too much too soon. When we focus on the first step, and then the next, and the next, we are able to develop the ‘how’ at a pace that works for us.
- Share your dream with others. Often what happens is that even if we do not have the skills or knowledge how to achieve our dreams, someone else might or they might know someone who has done it.
Taking action is key
Part of making a dream real and focussing our minds on achieving our dreams is to set a deadline or a target date, that is realistic. Even if you are not able, at this time, to set a deadline for your overall dream, you can name the first step or first goal. As Diana Sharf Hunt has said: “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” A date will bring an extra degree of focus and urgency. I invite you allow yourself to put a stake in ground and name your first step, one that you can take by the end of next week and commit to doing it.
As human beings we are designed to have dreams, goals and ambitions and to follow those dreams. If that was not the case, we would still be living in caves. So, if you are not already dreaming and pursuing your dreams, start dreaming and …
Go for your dreams!
- Follow your dream (runimal800.wordpress.com)
- Don’t Give Up. (aprillaugh.wordpress.com)
- What’s your obstacle strategy? (beingasuccessfulwoman.wordpress.com)
- The famous Glass Ceiling! – How real is it? (beingasuccessfulwoman.wordpress.com)
- The famous Glass Ceiling! – (Part 2) – Crack it, smash it, dissolve it! (beingasuccessfulwoman.wordpress.com)