On dreaming a little dream – and bringing it to reality
“I dream of painting, and then I paint my dream.”
Vincent Van Gogh
Dreams float in and out of our conscious thinking throughout our lives. Dreams are an essential part of being human. Dreaming about something we would like to do gives us something to look forward to, and ultimately, dreams can be responsible for shaping our lives. If we delve into the history of every invention, discovery, creative masterpiece, and personal accomplishment, we would likely discover they have one thing in common. We would find each one began as an idea, a dream, and blossomed from there. Even some favourite movies and songs speak to the importance of dreams. In their 2015 song, A Head Full of Possibilities, American band Coldplay speaks to the infinite possibilities that exist inside each of us. This song is one of hope, dreaming and looking forward:
“You can see the change you want to
Be what you want to be
When you get ahead
A head full of dreams.”
Coldplay, A Head Full of Possibilities
But ‘what if’?
The key to turning a dream into reality is often not as straightforward as the initial dream that ignites the sense of passion. Many dreams don’t progress any further than a dream. This is a valid point; some elusive dreams are impossible to visualize happening, causing us to doubt our own ability to make it real.
We may question the logic of a dream. Is the presence of a personal dream circumstantial or a mere coincidence? Or maybe it’s a construct we have built in our mind in response to strong negative or positive stimuli surrounding us? Maybe it would be wise to give our dream a cool-down period to allow room to back out with ease and without significant loss or disappointment.
Dreaming with self-doubt
“What am I thinking? I can’t do this.”
“I’m out of my league.”
“This project is too big for little old me.
Some problematic thoughts fill my mind as I begin the groundwork for my next project. Consumed by research, my fleeting moments of pure excitement and inspiration can be swiftly crushed by an unrelenting sense of self-doubt. A self-defeating belief whose sole intention is to convince me that any more than a blog and several photos is a bad idea that will never be taken seriously. My mind is one of self-sabotage.
In a previous blog, Looking forward to 2022 with hope, I wrote about hope and the importance of maintaining a sense of hope as we move through difficult stages in life. Like hope, dreams are integral to life. The not so humble dream that mulls away inside our mind can play a significant role in shaping who we are and where we head in life. They define who we are meant to become and are the essence of our life purpose. So, what’s the secret?
Making our dream a reality
The song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow from the Wizard of Oz is about dreaming, and its last line encourages us to dream. When Dorothy sings, “Dreams really do come true,” she certainly isn’t wrong but what this classic and uplifting song is unable to convey is the part about the effort, determination and persistence required on our part to achieve our dreams. The process of chasing and turning dreams into reality is achievable, and the experience is enriching. The feeling that accompanies accomplishment is one you want to make happen over and over again. So, what’s stopping us?
I’m not referring to the physical obstacles that can get in our way as we walk down the street, but rather the mental obstacles that can be etched into our minds. Each obstacle we face comes back to our mindset. Some key obstacles that I encountered when writing my first book were:
- I give up. Feeling comfortable in our world is a reassuring feeling. Feeling safe assures us that everything is okay. Often, however, a good dream pushes us out of our comfort zone and into one that doesn’t feel so great. When we feel uncomfortable doing something, we may be tempted to take the easy way out. We may quit. The problem with this can be the regret that inevitably follows. Showing my work to printers and editors booted me straight out of my comfort zone, igniting a battle of self-doubt within. I opened myself up to criticism and feedback; I took a path I would never previously have chosen. This was uncomfortable, and I came close to quitting several times. This is when I learnt to think rationally and not act in the spur of the moment.
- Work, work, work! Find one person who has achieved something significant and ask them if it was an easy feat. I’m willing to bet on the response to this being a resounding NO! Having a dream that seems an amazingly great idea doesn’t mean it will come true with ease. Anything worth achieving requires a lot of effort, sweat and tears. In my experience, this makes an achievement a whole lot sweeter. In my case, I chose to take on a significant project during one of the busiest times of my life – that is, during the pandemic lockdown with two children under the age of eight. As I juggled kids with home learning, I also wrote and photographed a book. What on earth was I thinking? It turns out the book was a great distraction and gave me something to work towards. It became one of the best things I’ve done, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
- But what if? The fear of trying and failing can be a significant factor in holding us back from starting in the first place. When we find the courage to start, things don’t always pan out as we hope. It’s an ever-evolving and ongoing process and having the flexibility to change is essential. Changing the end goal along the way does not equate to failure. It’s a sign of being flexible which is a highly recommended trait. Throughout the production of Resilience – A Year in Pictures, I had to reframe my expectations regularly. When I first came up with the idea to create a book documenting our time living through the pandemic, my initial instinct told me that this was a great idea, and I had no choice; I had to go for it. The prospect was exciting, yet, the seed of doubt planted itself in my mind from a very early stage. I’d never written a book; I’d written a few blogs, but that didn’t qualify me to go out and write a book. Another chain of thought followed this. My photography was average and wouldn’t print well. Then another chain of thought that nobody will want to read a book by me. The cycle of doubt was ever-evolving. Yet here I am, preparing to go through the process again.
Feel free to achieve your own dreams
Don’t take my word for it; now is an excellent time to kickstart that dream you’ve been holding onto. Spend some valuable time with yourself and let your thoughts flow. The world of opportunities and people willing to help is big, so believe in yourself and don’t look back. An excellent place to start is with a thorough plan of action. One that is clear and concise in covering what you want to do, sets out why your dream is important and lists the steps you will take to reach your goal. Keep the momentum moving; one step at a time is a step in the right direction. Go for it. The best part? You never know where that one dream may take you.
Great to see you dreaming, forward thinking again Sam. One of the most useful things I was taught after suffering anxiety attacks which really saw me living day today and even hour to hour was the phrase so what if….and but what if, encouraging me to worry less about the worst and more about the possibilities. It is terrific to see you using these tools to move on as well. Hopefully your next book with interviews and personal stories will sell well but what if is doesn’t, as many people I know over 50 don’t want to know about it anymore as they have taken all the precautions they can take and just want to move on. The most unfortunate thing about putting such a great photographic and anecdotal record of this period is that as a writer it takes a lot of time between beginning to completion and time is the enemy of a current record of events. By no means think that I am not behind you in your wonderful adventures with the camera and your terrific writing but if you have not already written the end of the book you may want to give some thought to including the spring/new life and moving on near the ending. I feel I may have overstepped the mark here but can only relate to you what I am hearing and seeing. Keep dreaming I know I look forward to reading and viewing your direction for the future. All the very best Julie x