Sometimes on the way to a dreamYou get lostAnd find a better one
I can honestly say that for most of my life I have always had a goal that I was working on/towards. As I’ve stated before, by nature I am an overachiever perfectionist. If I was told there was something I couldn’t do, I did it anyway. (I inherited the stubborn from my Nanny).
As I’ve thought about this post over the past week, one of the questions I have thought about is whether a goal and a dream should be considered the same thing? We sit a goal to save money to build a house. We dream about building the house. We dream of being physically healthy but we have to establish goals such as changing our diet, losing the first 10 pounds. In many ways, I am wondering if along the road of life we continue to get the two confused and we continuously work towards goals but never truly have a dream. We become hyper focused on the tasks and forget what we are working toward.
The post title can not be credited to me but to a friend who I had lunch with last week. It just so happens that for multiple reasons, there are several of my friends, who like me, are reestablishing themselves, or dreaming another dream. Another friend asked if I thought we were all making changes because we have reached the point of having enough life experience to justify what is important and what is not, or is this a life event that at our ages (our group ranges from already 40 to close to it) is something we naturally do. Gulp, surely we can’t be nearing a mid-life crisis when there is the potential to live to be 100 – there should be another 10 years or so before that.
So what happens when you wake up one morning and realize that you are not satisfied with the direction your life is heading? What happens when you begin to wonder why you are even doing what you are doing?
Sadly, I feel that many people continue to do things because they feel it is what is expected. A dream perhaps in inherited because it is expected, by parents, friends, society. Most of us do not venture too far off of the proverbial road we have been born on. If our parents were college graduates, that is typically expected of us. The natural progression is that after college, one finds a job in their career field, finds someone to get married, buys a house, decides to have children. Lives their little life.
We start having problems when something in the pattern doesn’t work, or we don’t want to follow that
natural perhaps outdated pattern. It is then that we start questioning if there is something wrong with us for not wanting to achieve certain goals along this map.
I’ve always admired the friends in my life who don’t follow the pattern. They make choices that perhaps we would all like to try but we are just a little too uncertain or fearful to do so. My husband has a friend who studied drama in college and spent many years working at Disney, being part of the productions on cruise ships. It’s obvious her dream has always been to be an actress. She stars in local productions (and is very good), does commercial work, even did a small film in New York City. She is achieving her dream of being an actress but perhaps it’s not on the level she had once dreamed of in college.
Several years ago, a co-worker achieved her dream of studying fashion design in Los Angeles. I can not tell you how much I admired the fact that she sold everything she couldn’t pack in her car and drove across the country to achieve her dream. She’s currently still living in LA. (not bad for a girl who grew up in Eastern Kentucky). Both of the individuals had dreams and are finding ways to fulfill them.
As I think about it, more of my life has been about goal setting that dream achieving. I might add that I’ve also been blessed to have some pretty awesome dreams come my way that I would have never imagined. (I was not one of those little girls who had a dream wedding planned, I wasn’t even sure there would be a guy to marry and each day I am blessed by what I have been given). Although I have always loved public speaking and education, teaching on the college level was never a specific dream. I am now enjoying this fantastic opportunity.
I heard on a recent call Bob and Sheri call in show about a Wall Street Journal article that stated after a major life event (this was focusing upon a divorce, job loss), that it takes approximately two years to reinvent yourself. If the event was sudden (and you had no idea it was coming), it can take longer. My friend who made the decision to leave hospice is now back in school taking another career path. We laughed that it will take almost exactly two years for her to receive her degree. She fits the pattern from the article.
From the beginning post of this blog, I have made it known that I am reconnecting the pieces of my life after the recent deaths. Over the past weeks I’ve also become aware that it is time to dream another dream for myself.
It is equally important when dreaming a new dream that we also grieve and mourn the dreams we don’t achieve, or change our mind about, or simply question why we were dreaming this dream anyway. Sadly, many of us do not take the time to grieve those dreams. The loss of a dream can be equally as significant as the loss of a person. That dream has often become an active part of your life and then suddenly, because of a job loss, or the realization it will not happen, it is no longer an active part of daily functioning. There is a missing piece.
The quote at the beginning of this post is something I found on a journal at Target many years ago. I simply love it. The reality is that sometimes the dream we are working towards may have never been our dream in the first place. Perhaps it was a dream we inherited from a parent who couldn’t achieve it, or it was something that everyone else was doing so it was easier to follow along than be the one who states “I don’t think I want that: the first (or second) degree, the marriage, the house, the dog, the kids”.
It takes courage to dream. It takes even more courage to follow our dreams.
My friend who is dreaming another dream, isn’t sure what the next dream is. I encouraged her to try to be OK with not having one right now. However, she is someone like myself who has always had something she was working towards. It feels awkward to not have that checklist.
I am going to be honest and put it out there that currently, I DO NOT know what dream I am working towards. I have some basic ideas but nothing is concrete or specific. Right now in regards to my grief, there are days when my goal is to make it through the day and accomplish something small (like cook dinner).
Of course, that is what I would suggest to a client. Make small goals to feel that I’m successful rather than big goals that I don’t truly have the energy for at this time, and not achieving them would make me feel like a failure.
I have explored ideas, most of which I know I do not want to dream.
– One friend is considering a PhD. I have had several people ask me if that is what I’m going to do. I looked at the courses. I cringed. I realized that is not what I want to do, despite others stating I should consider. Obtaining a PhD is not how I want to fill the next 5 years of my life.
– I’ve been told about certain full-time jobs that in the past would have sparked interest. I’m realizing there are now certain populations and certain positions that no longer interest me. (or perhaps I’ve gained enough experience to see the complete picture).
Of course, as I look towards the future, I also know there will be dreams I need to let go of. The reality is that I have a box of IVF medications that I need to donate to our fertility clinic in Cincinnati. I was fortunate enough to pay only $500 and there are couples without insurance who spend thousands for that box. We had planned for the second cycle, and then I felt I couldn’t do it, and Mom was diagnosed.
And it’s a year later and that box sits in the closet.
We both keep hoping it might happen naturally. A gift perhaps from my Mom and Nanny. We talked about what we are willing to do, what they physician would suggest. We mention adoption. Neither of us push the other to do anything and so we do nothing. Perhaps that is telling us something.
Letting go of a dream is hard.
It’s a loss.
However, there are often better dreams out there if we are willing to go off of the path we are on.
I’m with my friend, I’m off to dream another dream.
Hoping you are following your own.