How do you feel about going after your dreams at this time in your life? Do you still harbour long held desires and secret passions that you’ve carried around since childhood? Or do you have a more recent dream that you’re hankering after?
Have you ever shared them with anyone or are they stowed away never to see the light of day? Perhaps you’ve always felt they were too precious? Or are you scared of being judged as being too big for your boots. Are you worried your dreams will be considered unrealistic by those who might never understand? What really stops you?
The problem is that when we keep dreams locked away, we never know what we could actually achieve. Unless you acknowledge them and take action, how do you know you’re moving towards or away from your wishes and desires?
As children we may have had daydreams of being a gymnast, a singer, a swimmer and for some they do actually become a reality. We’ve seen those dreams coming true for our amazing Olympic athletes. There was even one for a 58-year-old equestrian.
I’m wondering how many of your own dreams eventually came to fruition. Were they everything you hoped for? Were they things you deliberately thought about and planned to achieve? Did you chase them, or were they things that unfolded in the fullness of time?
In 1995 I personally had a dream. The news reports about the Bosnian conflict and the children in those high-sided metal cots on TV stirred such emotion in me, that I set the intention to help in some way, some day.
At the time I was caring for my partner who was terminally ill, which of course meant in reality my dreams were firmly put on hold. And besides, if I had dared to share them with anyone else, they would have thought I was bonkers.
Although my desires dimmed when I lost my soulmate and became a single parent, they never quite disappeared. 12 long years passed by before a scarily exciting opportunity challenged me to fulfill that dim and distant wish. I had a choice. I could go for it and grab it with both hands, even though it required a degree of courage, or watch my long held vision drift away.
I was 55 and although those around me tried to deter me because of their own fears and beliefs I had no intention of allowing this particular opportunity to pass me by. How could I?
With the old adage, “Don’t ask for what you want you might get it,” ringing in my ears I flew off and was changed forever.
I share my story because I was lucky enough to have a desire so deep it was like it had been burned with a branding iron into my psyche. I returned the following summer too. If you ask if I’d do it again, I’d say probably no, because these days my dreams have changed. Inspiring other women to cultivate the courage and confidence to step into their dreams is where I’m at but that could change of course!
You may not be nearly so clear about what you’d like. Here’s a process to encourage you to identify what you’d like to have in your life.
Your Great Big Dream List might seem like a bit of an indulgence and it may even make you feel like you want to run away. This is a place to write down everything you ever wanted to be, do or have.
You can include possessions, personal character traits you’d like to develop, places you’d like to go, anything at all however big or small. See it as something of a bucket list of all the things you’d like to have done before you shuffle off this mortal coil.
This is a simple yet powerful exercise that will bring up memories you may have forgotten about. Allow your mind to free flow and spill out onto paper all the things you’ve ever wanted to do, anything and everything that comes into your mind. Dream big, it’s allowed.
The good thing is once it’s done, you can keep the same list for years and years, adding, changing and crossing off as you adjust your course and realise there’s something better than you originally hoped for on the horizon.
From your Great Big Dream List you can start to create your definition of what this could mean for you. This is more of a considered exercise and won’t be completed in one sitting. If you revisit it on a weekly basis, you’ll notice thoughts unfolding in between times.
For each of your dreams write down some feelings on what achieving them would look like for you. Would having these things bring your life into balance? Consider how would achieving those desires would affect the rest of your life.
What inspires, motivates and energises you? What do you have strong opinions about? What would you do no matter what, even if you won the lottery and could afford to do anything or nothing at all? What would you choose to do that ‘lights you up’?
What is most important to you? The non-negotiable things. The things you live your life by. If you were to dream bigger than you ever have before what could be possible for you if you stretched and planned? What would you like in the next 3, 5, 10 years?
Finally, condense your answers into one or two paragraphs that give a clear description of what your dream looks like for you. Revisit it and tweak it. When it feels right type it up, print it off, and use it as your guide and inspiration.
If you struggle with identifying what you’d like to have in your life this process will gives you more clarity about what you want, why you want it, and how you can achieve it. Identifying what you want is the first step now break it down.
Do you have a dream you’ve had tucked away forever and a day? What is your first little step going to be to take you there? How do you feel about living beyond your present limits at this stage of your life? Are you ready to take a risk and act on a big dream you have always held in your heart? Please join the conversation.