When I was 10 years old I dreamed of being an astronaut.  Every night for at least a year I looked up at the moon and wondered what take off would be like – SCARY.  I dreamed about what the ride would feel like – COOL, and then about the feeling of what landing ON THE FACE OF THE MOON would be like – COOL/GROOVY.  I couldn’t wait to take my “one small step…”.  It had been just 9 years since the first man walked on the moon, and I really thought I would be an astronaut.  Unfortunately that dream never came to fruition, but to this day I look at the moon and dream of the dreams I had as a young boy.

I believe that dreams occur while we are asleep and awake.  And they are not just about walking on the moon, joining the circus or winning the lottery.  Dreams are a part of the cognitive process determining desire, motivation and decision making.  We all dream about something.

Last week I dreamed of talking to an old friend with whom I have not spoken to in over five years.  He was a dear friend. Then one day we stopped talking and e-mailing.  I don’t really understand why – but I dreamed of what I would say.  In my dream I asked a lot of questions:  “Why didn’t you return my phone call five years ago or my e-mail from six months ago?”  “What did I do?” “What happened?”  But I didn’t call him and probably never will.

Another kind of dream I experienced was when I was spending the whole day unimpeded with my daughter.  We did a lot of fun stuff.  As we were driving after lunch, I found myself dreaming about what it will be like when she gets married and I walk her down the aisle – SCARY.  As soon as the thought came to mind – I began to ask myself:  “How old will I be? “I hope I can walk down the aisle.” “Who will she marry?” “Will I like him?” “What will he do for a living?” “Will I trust him?” “Will they be in debt?” “Will I have to bail them out?” “Will I be able to bail them out if they really need it?” “Will I even be alive to see her in her wedding gown?”  This went on and on and on.  These were all of the questions I had as I dreamed about that beautiful day sometime in the future.  My dream turned negative.

When you think of dreaming what comes to mind?  Do you think of a career dream?  A retirement dream?  A dream of regret or celebration?  Is it a “should-a-would-a-could-a” dream? There are so many things about which we dream – but we rarely take the steps to fulfill them.  I admit, not all dreams can be acted upon, but what about the ones that can?

I write this as an encouragement to take the time to fulfill your dreams.  We are so often filled with fear and risk aversion that we don’t want to “go there.”  I have been coaching a young man for a year on his career and life in general – he wants to be a “healer.”  There are a lot of ways he can fulfill this dream – but he can’t get past all of the potential negative consequences that exist.  We have had some good breakthroughs but he gets hung up on the “What ifs.”

I believe “What ifs” are human nature.  It is the fight, flight or freeze response.  Also known as acute stress response, when we get “scared” one of three things happen:  We run, go to battle or freeze up like an old car battery in the middle of winter. So, I encourage you as I encourage my “what am I going to do with the rest of my life” client:

  • Talk to others about your dreams.
  • Ask someone to keep you accountable to fulfilling your dream.
  • Practice taking action on your dreams – start with the easy ones.
  • Evaluate the real consequences and make a judgment call.
  • If you never act, you will never know.
  • Take the risk – because it is probably not as risky as you think/feel it is.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer.  Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” — Harriet Tubman

I will add one more perspective to this great quote:  Changing the world can be your own world.  If you change something about you, it can change those around you.  And who knows how many other people will change because of you.