Reclaiming the Lost Art of Dreaming with Intention
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
I vividly remember my daughter Anna’s kindergarten graduation celebration. Her class was on stage and the school gym was packed with family members. (Clearly this wasn’t 2020.) We had our camcorder ready because each child was about to share what they’d like to be when they grow up. Anna was always one of the smallest kids in her class, so we had to be sure we were positioned to see her perfectly. When her name was called, she walked up to the microphone with purpose and said in a clear voice “When I grow up, I want to be a fairy.” Then she turned around and skipped back to her seat. It was an epic moment. This was not her wish; this was her intention. And who wouldn’t want their child aspiring to become a mythical being with magic powers??
We are born with an incredible ability to dream and to believe in the existence of vast possibility.
We only need to look to children to see this demonstrated so beautifully. Over time, and for some children, far too soon, messages and circumstances, start to narrow our belief in what is possible for us, and instead intensify our focus on what we think is practical, good enough, or immediately available.
Even the word “dream” has questionable messages associated to it. As a noun: a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person's mind; a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal; or an unrealistic or self-deluding fantasy (yikes). As a verb: to indulge in fantasies about something greatly desired; or to waste one's time in a lazy, unproductive way. This doesn’t leave one with much motivation to engage in the activity does it?
I’d like to offer this alternative description:
Dreaming is a critical practice that allows one to uncover ways to experience the abundance of life more fully and deeply. A practice that when done with intention, allows one to create unique and meaningful value for themselves and others.
This is a practice I take my clients through and it never fails to bring up some fantastic thoughts and beliefs to explore. If you allow yourself to dream up an idea or goal that feels exciting and kind of scary all at once, your brain may offer you thoughts like these, that can keep you second-guessing your desires and staying stuck.
You might fail and be disappointed.
It might be “too” hard. People might judge you.
You should just appreciate what you have now.
That dream would be amazing BUT <insert reasons why it isn’t possible for you>.
I’d like to offer the following equally possible and available thoughts when it comes to your dreams. These are thoughts that enable you to keep moving forward, even when things get tough and there are barriers to overcome along the way.
Remember, you can do hard things.
That dream would be amazing AND <insert reasons why it is possible for you>.
You might become stronger, braver, more creative and resilient.
You might blow your mind with what you are able to create in your life and in the world.
Ready to get started?
Here are four suggestions to help you reclaim the lost art of dreaming with intention:
1. Ensure you have dreamers and people with diverse lived experiences in your life.
When you forget or can’t see, their lives will be an example of what’s possible. If you start to wonder if you are crazy to pursue something, they will remind you of how capable you are.
2. Give yourself permission to desire FOR YOU.
This is especially important if you’ve been socialized as a woman, as we are generally taught early on that we must care for others before ourselves and thus we must want for others before ourselves. This often leads to thoughts like “I should or shouldn’t want this.”
What if living your full, authentic life inspires others around you to do so as well? What if by filling yourself up with your desires, you can more easily support and give to others, and do so from a place of love rather than obligation?
3. Don’t forget to desire what you already have.
When I ask my clients to brainstorm what they want in their lives, they very seldom list anything they already have – even when I tell them to! Are you choosing to want what you already have? If not, why not?
4. Cultivate an abundant mindset.
What if you believed that everything you needed would be available to you when you needed it? What if what you needed came from an abundant source rather than a limited supply? Really sit with those questions. How would it change the options you consider or the decisions you make? If you believed there was an abundance of ways to move forward, how would that change how thoroughly you searched to find YOUR way? When you allow yourself to believe you will figure out the “how”, it opens you up to focus more intently on your why. Why is this dream important to you? Do you like your reasons?
More powerful than the best laid plans, a strong why and an abundant mindset will keep you committed and empowered, no matter what you encounter along the journey to your dreams.
If you want help learning how to dream with intention, be sure to check out my Get Unstuck coaching program here.