Dare to Dream: the freedom in building a life we love

Imagine we were sitting down to coffee together. We're in a cozy cafe. A table in the corner. We feel secure in our schedules and comfortable enough with our productivity for the day to really be present with one another. We're relaxed and giddy at the opportunity to just hang out with one another. We're catching up on what's new with one another's kids and husbands and families. Then a comfortable pause while we sip our drinks...

And I ask you: What's your dream?

Do you have an answer? Have you thought about it? Is it painful to think about?

Are you working on it?

What is a dream?

A dream is a wish, a desire, or idea for your future based loosely on what some may call "reason" that won't let you go. You've thought about it endlessly. Perhaps you've explained it away a hundred times but it keeps nagging at you. Thrilling you and causing you to forget what you were saying just a second ago because you were caught up in the daydream of what if?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a huge proponent of blindly "following your dreams." I absolutely believe that our dreams need to be rooted in practicality. The problem, of course, is that as an incredibly practical person I've spent the better part of my adult years reasoning my way out of dreaming! And thus, I had always played it safe never daring to risk my uncertainty for being fearless in the pursuit of what sets my soul on fire. There has to be balance between our dreams and our practical reality or we risk inertia.

Your dreams must be equally weighed against reality to achieve balance and move confidently forward toward your future.

If your dreams outweigh your reality, if they weigh more than this very moment, then you aren't living here. You're merely existing while you wait for there. And everything in the present is an inconvenience - a distraction, an object of resentment.

If your reality weighs more than your dreams -- your head is bent low under the weight -- and you're watching each minute tick by on the watch of your life without the joyful reprieve of looking up at the direction your steps are leading you to.

But sometimes our circumstances prevent us from dreaming. Or maybe, we feel we don't have the luxury. Or we've forgotten how.

What prevents us from dreaming?

Sometimes it takes every ounce of our energy to show up for this very day. You're drowning in today. Up to your eyeballs in today. How could you possibly dream about tomorrow?!

What if I told you that tomorrow will come? I know - motivationally we're meant to think "live like there is no tomorrow" but that hasn't caused us to live today any better. In fact, it pressures us to shove more today into today. We eat dessert whenever we want because tomorrow isn't promised (YOLO!). We indulge our impulses of tv-binging because we can't stand to delay our gratification for another day (livin' my best life!).

But what if we sprinkled some tomorrow into today? What if we gave ourselves the grace to consider today sufficient unto itself but we refill our hope coffers with the promise of what tomorrow could be? Can we manage ourselves today in light of the person we want to become tomorrow? Would it change our behavior? Would we have a second glass of wine, eat the cookies, and stay up late watching 5 episodes of The Office? Maybe we would...

Tough love from tomorrow

Wait, you say, what if today was hard? If we lived like there was no tomorrow how depressing would it be to close our eyelids on a tough day without any anticipation of a better day tomorrow? We need to treat ourselves after the hard days, right? I mean, there is no telling if tomorrow will be any different. So let's fill the void with treats today. We earned it. But will it feel rewarding tomorrow? Probably not. Because if we had no plan to make it to tomorrow and build a better future by our actions today then we'd be at the mercy of others to direct our steps, giving our power away and reacting our way through life. And we may just "treat" ourselves to an early death.

And what if we've had a lot of hard days? If we're in a soul-crushing season? How can we start dreaming again? We think back to what lit us up before the hardship. We remember and we try again. And if that doesn't bring the same spark -- we discover new dreams to light us up. The most amazing part of being in this place is that when we've been in the dark for a long time each step brings us closer to the light. So start stepping.

Maybe we chased something we thought was our dream and it didn't work out. Maybe we lack the confidence to try again. We have to objectively (that practicality again) assess our situation, what part we own and what we don't. And that is a lot more complex than one article can address. But in essence, we must let what can not be fall away and walk in freedom to build a new dream. And we have to choose it every day until it becomes natural.

I don't get it, you might be thinking. For someone who claims to be so practical she makes no practical sense. Perhaps I am being too conceptual, but I absolutely believe that if you feel it - you get it.

Will you commit to dreaming?

Dreaming is a balm, a medicine. It makes today's disappointments more bearable because we are not intensely focused on the thing immediately before us. We free ourselves from the responsibility of alleviating our discomforts today because we know that dreams aren't realized in one day. It takes a long time. Maybe our whole lives (ideally), and that allows us the freedom to build a life we love a little bit at a time. I can handle it when a child gets sick, or my truck won't start, or I made a mistake and my day's plans are completely wrecked. Because today wasn't my dream. Today was just a step toward my dream.

So take another sip of your drink in that cafe -- tell me about your dream --

and start stepping.

Related: Stressing over Stress