Sarah May Bates
April 06, 2014 9:00 am

How do you decide whether or not you should pursue a flickering dream in your life: something that’s lingering in your heart, that you have passion for, but it’s just never practical and therefore feels unrealistic? A dream can be hard to measure because it’s so far away, so sometimes they become almost intangible to us: do we really want this thing or was it just a half-hearted fancy we had long ago? We also dismiss dreams when there isn’t a clear path to them in our current lives: we don’t have time and no opportunities seem to present themselves that would allow us to even try. And with all the regular responsibilities in life, it can be daunting to think about adding something else to your plate, especially something that doesn’t pay you for your time.

If you feel like you sorta have a dream but it lacks any kind of concrete detail (or maybe you have a couple of them and none of them feel like they’re your “true calling”), it could be because the rational you has dedicated all of your time to things like work and fixing the car, among other things.  Or perhaps your dreams are so far off that they’re simply abstract. Stop for a moment and ask yourself honestly: “Am I happy?” Think about if you would live your life differently if money or the expectations of others were not factors.  Examine whether or not you are truly leading the life that fulfills you or if you might be neglecting a part of yourself.  A yearning or an instinct that comes from deep down, that seems impractical but oh-so fun. Well, here’s something to help you understand what’s important to you in your life – it’s a little interview with yourself to enlighten and inspire a shift of focus toward what you value most.

Grab a pencil and your journal or a piece of paper. This set of questions is worth answering, if not just to become more aware of yourself and what guides you. It’s a process from this book about time management.

What are your governing values? Write a list. Maybe there are five, maybe there are fifteen. It’s different for everyone. What do you value as the most important in your life? Family and love might be on that list, as well as physical health and balance. Whatever they are, write them down and describe what they mean in a few sentences.

Now look at that list. What has the most importance? What you would risk your life to have? In other words, what makes your life worth living? Probably family and love, health and balance. Now ask yourself: Are there values of high importance that are not being fulfilled in your life currently?  If so, you should consider a shift.  Nothing dramatic, but just a reorientation of your eyeballs toward the stars.

Consider for a moment: What if you could do something to change that and fulfill this other part of your life?  Who would you become and what do you yearn to do? Don’t worry about the details of why that’s not possible right now or why it’s highly impractical.  Just dwell on that dream.  Savor how happy it makes you to think about it – what it brings out in you, how fun it is, how quickly a day would fly by.

Remember that you only get one of these things – the “thing” being life. You don’t get a do-over. This is the one.  It’s like a roller coaster that takes lots of twists and turns and then everyone has to get off and go home.  Laugh and smile and take in as much as you possibly can.  Let go of fear and what others may say, because this is about your life and your story.  You’ve got nothing to lose and only experience and learning to gain.  Why wouldn’t you try?  Because it might be terrible?  You might fail?  Your peers will mock you?  It’s frivolous to do something that won’t bring in money?

It’s worth far more than you could imagine.  You broaden your power as a person just by deciding to take one tiny step toward something new.  Regardless of how far you get, even the tiniest bit of action creates growth.  You change. Like doing one half of a push-up, you flexed that muscle. And even though it’s half of one push-up, compared to inaction, that’s super awesome! You are making yourself stronger.  No matter how seemingly irrelevant a discipline, growth of any kind is always worthwhile. And it serves every other area of your life because there’s more that you can give.  You gain new experiences that will inform and enhance who you are as a parent, student, teacher, manager or an athlete and in everything you do now.

You have absolutely nothing to lose by gazing toward this dream of yours, or casting a bit more light upon it and investing in it further.  Let go of whether or not it’s possible or practical – because that has nothing to do with you.  That’s not your job. You can’t solve for the future because it is unwritten.  All you have to do is see what it looks like.  It’s a dream.  Don’t try to solve how it will come about in reality, just have it and honor it by giving it validity and a place in your mind.  Picture it, enjoy it and render it further.  And once it becomes clear in your mind, to feed it.  Feed it what? Anything you can to help it grow.  Whether that’s reading a book about it before you go to bed, or enrolling in a class after work or school.  Don’t jump into the future or start trying to solve for that’s impossible-times-a-million. Just allow it to grow.  It will alight its own path and become what it needs to when it needs to, in your life.  The only important part is that it be acknowledged and honored – because it is a true and vital part of your person. For you to be happiest, you must satisfy all of yourself.  Not just the part of you who knows how to manage a lot of stress and can get rid of debt or drive a car or get good grades. No matter what practical rules make up the life you live now, you have room to invite a dream in.  There is always time for things that are important.

Ponder your dreams, often. What would you do if you could do anything?  Whatever they are, give your dreams your time. Picture them, shape them, wander through them in your imagination, and practice feeding them in any way.  Because whether or not you’ve addressed your dreams thus far in your life, they are real and a part of who you are. Claim them so that they may grow.

Happy Sunday lovely friends. Hope you’re having a fantastic one! xoxo, Sarah May B.

Featured image via Flickr

If you want to hear more about the book I referenced, this podcast is worth a listen.