You know sometimes you hear words which feel like a punch in the heart? When I heard Cheryl Strayed (author of the fabulous book ‘Wild: A journey from Lost to Found’) say ‘Don’t let your dreams ruin your life’ I had to stop the car for a few moments to get myself back together.
Let’s put her words in context: She was being interviewed by Oprah on her Super Soul podcast (called ‘The Humble Journey to Greatness’) & explained how her dream of writing THE Great American Novel was stopping her from writing.
Eventually she came to a moment of truth & realised that her dream was getting in the way of who she was supposed to be. As she said; ‘and that is when you have to ask yourself, not who you aspire to be, but to reckon with who you actually turn out to be, who you actually are.’
She realised that her dream of greatness was too big to reach & wasn’t serving her. Eventually she admitted to herself that she wasn’t going to write the Great American Novel, so ‘I had to relinquish all of those anthems of greatness and dreaming big and aiming high…..they weren’t serving me anymore’….. ‘I had to figure out how to measure success differently.’
She described how letting go of her dream & ‘surrendering to the idea of my own mediocrity’ gave her the freedom to write ‘Wild’. And the rest, as they say is history.
If I summarise by saying that:
her unattainable dream was paralysing her, & letting it go gave her the freedom to find happiness & to be who she really was
you’ll understand why I’m telling you this story. Of course you know which dream I’m referring to. It might be THAT dream which is holding you back, or it could be other dreams, big or small.
So let me ask:
Are your dreams ruining your life?
Are your unattainable dreams getting in the way of who you’re supposed to be?
Please be honest with yourself. Are there any dreams you have which aren’t serving you? When I asked myself these questions I realised that perhaps it’s time to let go of some dreams I’ve been hanging on to for many years.
If that’s the case for you
Instead, how would you like to have dreams which support you?
It seems that the now is the perfect time to turn Cheryl’s phrase into something positive so you start the new decade with dreams that support your life.
Will you join me?
I’m suggesting you spend some time in January first reflecting on the ‘good stuff,’ what went well, what you achieved/created, what you’re most proud of etc. Then you’ll dig into the ‘not so good’ stuff, what was hard, what dreams are no longer serving you, how did you stop yourself from doing this things you wanted to do (yes I know, ouch).
Once you’ve completed this you’ll have a good idea of where you are & what’s important to you. And now you’ll be ready to start planting seeds for the future, generating ideas of dreams you may want to take forward, who you might want to be etc.
Then like all seeds, you’ll leave them for a while to see which start to grow & which don’t. In late Feb/early March you’ll go back to these seeds, work out which ones have started to grow & you might want to take forward. So then you’ll be ready to grow purposefully in the direction of your choosing.
Your dreams are worth taking some time
Maybe you’re thinking that is a lengthy process & instead you could do it in a few hours. Of course you could but I would caution against it & here’s why.
- Your experience of short lived ‘new year’s resolutions’ tells you that new goals made hastily never stick for more than a few weeks. This is partly because winter is not the time to start new things; it’s the perfect time for going inside, asking questions & reviewing. Spring is the time for goal setting & starting new things. (You can read more of my thoughts on Winter on my previous blogs here & here). So by taking your time; you’ll be following the flow of the seasons.
- And mostly, we’re talking about big life dreams here, surely they (& you) are worth putting aside some time to discover?
Would you like to walk forward purposefully, in the direction of your dreams?
If you’re with me, it will work like this:
In each blog (published every few days & sent via newsletter) I’ll ask you a number of questions & I’ll also include tips & my own reflections. You can answer as many or as few as you like, however experience tells me that those you’re most resistant to answering are those which will help you most.
You’ll need paper and pens. I’m a visual person so find it useful to be able to see everything at once so I’ll be answering the questions on A4 paper using coloured pens. You might wish to do this, or you might prefer to use a new journal. Other than that, I only ask that you come with an open mind & a willingness to change.
Why I hope you do this
One message I’ve heard time & time again these past few months is this.
Life is short & it’s important to make the most of every day.
This is my aim.
More than anything I wish for you to have the freedom to be who you really are so you can make the most of the life you have.
I hope you join me
It might just change your life.
If this helped you, or you have any thoughts on how your dreams are helping you (or not), please leave a comment below.
You might wish to start the year by treating yourself to Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness, where you’ll find plenty of tips and tricks to support you.