There’s a saying that goes ‘dream so big that it scares you’. If your dream isn’t so big that it scares you, you’re underestimating yourself. Unfortunately, many of us struggle to dream at all. As children we have magnificent imaginations, we go on fantastic adventures, create great friends, overcome vast challenges and dive into new experiences with anticipation. Yet, as adults, who have the independence and the influence to make our dreams reality, we cast aside our ability to dream.
The power of your imagination is wonderful and it’s capable of driving you to flaunt expectations and self-doubt as you journey towards a life where you are utterly content. Your thoughts are an extension of your vital life energy and when you shift them towards a dream, your entire life shifts to focus on making those dreams a reality.
So, what’s stopping you from dreaming big?
Growing up, our dreams lead us through challenges, phases and hobbies that help us find happiness, fulfilment and purpose. However, when these big wonderful dreams lead to rejection and failure, the deep disappointment and embarrassment can feel much more significant than all the positive lessons learned. Instead of embracing the abundance of knowledge gained and the connections that were made, most people are drawn to fixate on the seeming negativity of that one failure. This damages their self-confidence and encourages them to take the ‘safe’ paths in life, where they are less and less inclined to dream.
The struggle to overcome fear and envision big goals for ourselves usually comes down to two things:
Fear of failure can be overwhelming. It can compel you to take ‘safer’ paths paved by others that will only leave you dissatisfied as you journey in a direction that doesn’t correspond with your dream. Breaking away from this fear means rejecting your self-doubt and acknowledging your strengths, especially those that you gained on your way to failure. It means realising that one mistake does not make your entire journey worthless. Here’s a few ways to remind yourself just how clever, capable and full of potential you are:
- Choose one area of your life, whether it’s your career, a hobby, self-growth or something else entirely, and compare where you were on your first day to where you are now. How did you feel? What did you struggle with? How do you feel approaching those same things now? I bet there’s an enormous difference. Things that once made you frustrated or nervous are now things that come almost naturally. You’ve handled daunting tasks before and you can do it again!
- Be optimistic! A healthy focus on the positive is always better for your self-esteem than fixating on the negative. You can acknowledge and learn from the bad, but don’t dwell on it because the more energy you put into it the more it will grow out of proportion.
- When that unhelpful little voice in your head tells you that there’s going to be an awful outcome, question it! Realistically, how likely is that outcome? If it somehow did happen, how would it impact you a week, a month or a year from now? You’ll come to realise exactly how silly that voice is and get better and better at muffling it.
- Practice gratitude for what you have and what you have achieved. Simply take time to appreciate how many beautiful positive things are in your life and know that you are the one that drew them there.
2. Fear of other people’s expectations
Recently, I went to my nephews’ gig and I overheard someone on the crowd criticising the band of teenage boys by saying that the sound wasn’t great. Despite the crowd of over 100 people dancing and singing along, this person was standing back and picking at every little thing in the boys’ performance. It’s easy to sit back and judge others, but what that judgemental person is really doing is making note of what they see in themselves, the fears that stop them from taking the same great leaps as the person they are criticising.
I heard the judgement of someone who was hurt by failure, perfection, self-doubt and a lack of confidence and is now too scared to dream big or to be able to get up on stage like those boys. It is so much easier to sit back and judge then to get up and have a go, so have pride in the fact that you have the courage to dream. You are challenging self-doubt, and fear and unnecessary criticism is a reflection on other people and not you.
Here are a few things to remember when someone projects their insecurities onto you:
- Absolutely nobody succeeds 100% of the time. Think of a mentor you look up to, someone who really inspires you and know, with absolute certainty, that they have failed, more than once! No one is perfect, so don’t hold yourself to those false standards. Failure is a natural part of learning and what’s important is that you keep on growing afterwards.
- Failure is not a bad thing. You may not have achieved what you wanted but you took the journey to get there, which means you were brave enough to challenge yourself and you definitely learned some things along the way. Failure is not the end of your journey, but a chance to learn, regroup and use the new information to push yourself farther. You only truly fail when you stop trying.
- Don’t compare yourself to other people. Learn from teachers, mentors and peers, but don’t rule yourself up against them. Your dream is unique to you and you won’t be able to fulfil it by trying to be someone else.
- The people who really matter will see how far you’ve come, not the mistakes you’ve made. Have faith in the people you have surrounded yourself with. You were drawn to your loved ones because they resonate with you. They care about you and they understand that not everything is always going to go your way, in the same way that you are ready to lend them a shoulder when they’re having a tough time, they will be there for you.
- Big dreams are scary, as the saying goes – they should be! They can lead to big failures, but you have a perfect track record of surviving every failure you’ve ever had, so muster that courage and start deciding what you want to journey towards.
What is your dream?
If you want to dream big, you need to be able to envision the things that you want in life. The things that make you feel happy, purposeful and at peace. Make a list of the things you must have in your dream life. There are no limitations and no one else ever has to read it, so be as honest and imaginative as possible, without including unicorns or mermaids. While you’re making your list, consider:
• What you love to do
• Who you love to spend time with or the sort of people you want in your life
• Things you want to learn
• Ways you enjoy expressing yourself
• Things you want to do more of
• Your dream job
• Where you would love to live
• Goals you want to achieve
• What you can’t live without
You can’t achieve a dream you haven’t dared to imagine, so if you want it, envision it. Take a deep breath, push the self-criticism and expectations aside, close your eyes and start dreaming! Envision what you’ve written down, building from one part at a time. Explore that world, let it sink into your memory so that you become familiar with it and can easily recall it.
Keeping the dream alive
Now that you can see your idea inside your head, bring it outside to help it last. If you’ve been struggling to dream for a while, creating something that you can look at daily will encourage you to keep dreaming big and to remember that you are on a journey towards fulfillment, purpose and joy. Make your big dream tangible by:
- Creating a dream board with words, images and objects that inspire you and fuel your dream.
- Writing a short story or poem about a day in your dream life. You don’t have to write about what you’re doing, you can write about how you feel when you wake up in the morning or a description of your life.
- Drawing or painting your dream space. It could be the house you’ve always wanted, a holiday destination you’ve always dreamed of visiting or a peaceful space you’ve seen in your dreams.
- Creating a playlist of music that makes you feel the way you do within your big dream. It should remind you of the people, places and ideals that are invaluable to you.
By starting to dream again, you’ve opened yourself up to all the wonderful possibilities awaiting you and the opportunity to pursue your true potential. You’re following in the footsteps of greats like Einstein, who reached his true potential when he solved the problems of the universe through ‘thought experiments’ or dreaming!
If you want to go one step further and plot out your journey to your big dream, you may want to check out Nourished Energy’s Transformation course, which mentors you through turning that big dream into a nourishing reality.
In love and light