How to Dream Big as a Do-Gooder (Part 1)

Mar 22, 2016 | Life Coaching Blogs

And Make Your Dreams Come True

Admittedly, this title is pretty lofty and makes a really big promise: that your dreams can come true! What I’m really describing here are those Big Hairy Audacious Goals (all kudos to Jim Collins) for our personal lives. These are the future-oriented projects, actions, lifestyles, and careers that take much courage to admit to ourselves and to others. They may sound something like this for you:

  • I want my nonprofit to be one of the best places to work.
  • I want to start a company that blends making money with doing good.
  • My family will take a year sabbatical and travel the world.
  • I’m going to move to Germany in three years.
  • I want a calligraphy career that allows me to be a business owner and a mom that works from home.

These are all real-life dreams that I’ve heard from friends, clients, and myself in the past year. You know you’ve hit on a dreamy goal when your heart flutters, you feel uncomfortable, or you’re even reluctant to share it aloud.

The Myths of Dreaming Big

This first post is really about the misconceptions you might have about your big vision for your life. I’ve worked with so many people that judge and shut down their dreams before they even begin because they’re afraid, insecure, or are allowing other people’s expectations to lead their life. They allow being practical to trump being themselves. In the next post, I’ll talk about the steps to take to make your dreams come true.

  1. Your dream will become crystal clear in an instant. A dream is a sort of vision that needs time to crystallize. I’ve found in my own life that my dreams become clear after much hard work, soul searching, and usually frustration. Dreams don’t become clearer by just thinking about them. It’s not possible.
  2. You must have it all planned out before you begin. There is such a thing as over-planning, but usually this need for planning is a need to control the future or the outcome. We use this need as a way to not move forward on our dreams. Usually all you need to do is visualize the next step. The path becomes clear as you walk it.
  3. If it’s meant to be, it will be easy. No doubt about it: if you’re pursuing your unique dreams, more doors will open, you’ll be less stressed, AND you’ll be willing to eat the shit sandwich, as Elizabeth Gilbert says. None of this is easy, but if you are truly following your dreams, it will feel easier and you’ll be more willing to deal with it, i.e. eat the shit sandwich. This meal is what we MUST bear in order to live our dreams. For writers, it is getting their work rejected many, many times (think: at least 30) before it is accepted once. For nonprofiteers looking to change the industry, it is sitting in board meetings being told that they are too ambitious and that’s not how things work around here. If you run a business, it might be doing your own accounting work until you can afford a bookkeeper.
  4. You only get one big dream for my life. Dreams change at different stages of our lives and that’s okay. It is often with hindsight that we see that every action we take toward a dream leads us closer to clarity. More than likely you’ll have multiple careers in different industries. That’s all great experience for helping you achieve your dream. As a high schooler, I envisioned myself as a fast-paced, high-flying CEO that traveled the world. As I’ve matured, I’ve realized that there are pieces of that dream that are truly a part of who I am:
    • I want to travel a lot to have adventures in foreign lands (even though I’m a nervous flyer).
    • I want to be a business owner (I am now).
    • I want to have a big impact on this world as part of my legacy (I’m slowly working on that, but this piece seems murky right now).
  5. The dream is a destination. So many of us think that the goal is the destination, the ending place. We strive; we wait impatiently; we wander through the day waiting for the goal to be accomplished. The dream is TODAY. Today is the best day. When you develop gratitude for this very moment, you will have arrived.

Now It’s Your Turn

What are your big dreams? Don’t judge yourself or others.