We all have dreams, ambitions, and goals. We’re told they’re important, but what if the actual dream isn’t as important as what it says about us?
When we’re younger we’re instilled with a belief that we can be anything we want to, as long as we set our minds to it. We can be anything in our wildest dreams… but, as we grow up, and as adulthood sinks its nasty long claws in, we begin to realise it might not be the case. The cynics amongst us will tell us that hardly anyone achieves their dreams, that its a small minority of us who do, but I’m going to tell you that we need those dreams… though perhaps not for the reasons you think.
I’m inclined to agree with the cynics, that only a small minority of us truly achieve our dreams. There’s only so much spare room on a shuttle for us all to be astronauts, after all. However, I don’t think this necessarily makes dreams wrong, or even pointless, I think they have a more subtle effect.
Dreams, and our pursuit of them, tell us something deeper about who we are, about our interests, and about what we value. They’re our goals, our ambitions, they’re things we clearly define our lives by. The thing is that some of us, myself included, have a tendency to think “all or nothing”. If my dream is of being a Published Author, I wont be happy until my masterpiece hits selves. If my dream is be to be self employed, I wont be happy until I leave work and become my own boss. They’re admirable goals, but these are things that can, and often do, go awry, or get delayed, or simply struggle to come to fruition, and then you’re faced with feeling like a failure.
Now, if we’ve learnt anything from this month of January, if I’ve banged on about any one particular subject, it is about “Small Steps“, about moving forward even at a snails pace is progress. Dreams, therefore, help us steer ourselves towards that goal, but we shouldn’t allow the lack of success in meeting them to render us a failure. Perhaps, we just need more time and we are still taking those small steps. Perhaps, we are not working in the most productive manner and we need to correct our course. Or, perhaps, our dreams tell us something more about ourselves in general.
This is something I realised when planning my Wedding (or should I say, whilst Kirsty was planning our Wedding as I have, so far, been rather unhelpful). You see, before getting engaged, Kirsty and I would muse about our “Dream Wedding”, a Wedding in a Castle that was out of the way and all to ourselves, a Wedding with “Geeky” table decorations where every table was a different fictional world, from Hyrule to Hogwarts, from Middle Earth to Galifrey, and it would be something we invited everyone we knew to come and enjoy with us. That was before the engagement. Since getting engaged our vision has become more realistic, and costs have become a lot more realistic. We haven’t been able to plan our dream Wedding, but neither of us are disappointed by that, instead our plans have changed, perhaps even for the better. The experience has taught me one thing in particular; that we don’t always want to achieve our dreams, perhaps we merely want to be guided by them.
Dreams, in a more general sense, tell us a lot more about the things we hold important. We may not be planning to get married in a castle, but we’ve booked a hotel that is rustic and characterful, it’s intimate and out the way. We’re not having elaborate table decorations, but it was never about the grander decorations, instead we’re having geeky touches throughout. And finally we’re not inviting everyone we have passing greetings with, but we’re narrowing down the list to those people that matter most. Dreams tell us what is important in principle; it was never the Castle that was important it was the feeling behind it, it was never the elaborate decorations, it was what they said about us. What if we distil it even further? Or dream was never to have “the ultimate wedding” it was simply to “be wed“, and even that can be distilled further to simply say “to be together“.
It’s taught me that my other dreams are flexible too. It’s taught me that the reason I want to be a published author isn’t because I want to have my name embossed on some leather hardback on my shelf (as nice as that would be), but instead its just because I want to share my words with other people. It’s taught me that my dream to be self employed stems more from me simply wanting freedom and responsibility, than any other real desire to run a company. Dreams are, therefore, guidelines and can tell us something much deeper about ourselves and what we value, about our internal workings and the things we strive to find in life. We can learn a lot by analysing our goals, perhaps we can even find other ways of making ourselves feel satisfied and fulfilled when a dream is just a bit too out of reach.