So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable – Christopher Reeve.
A number of years ago I read a story that encouraged and challenged me at the same time. It was about a man who had dreamt of owning a large horse ranch when he was a kid, in spite of the fact that at the time, he had no money, no resources and no prospects. His teacher had told him it was an unrealistic dream for such a young boy in his position, but he chose to stick with his dream rather than listen to his teacher. Years later, he had the privilege of meeting that same teacher when the latter accompanied a group of thirty kids to camp on this man’s two hundred acre ranch.
We like the man in the story, all have dreams; things we want to see happen and are willing to make sacrifices for. But for many of us, as time passes and those dreams do not materialise, we decide to store them away on the shelves of the past with a label that reads, ‘unrealistic’, ‘impossible’ or ‘too late’.
A few days after I read this incredible story, I went to have my nails done and was amazed to see a sticker on the beautician’s wall that read: “follow your dreams”. Do you believe in coincidences? I don’t. Someone was trying to get my attention. I knew right then that I needed to pay more attention to this concept of dreams and I asked myself, “What happened to some of the dreams that you had?” “At what point did you decide they were no longer worth going after or it was too difficult?
In case you hadn’t noticed, one of the greatest dream stealers is time. As the years go by and your dreams begin to gather dust on the shelves I mentioned earlier, it becomes more difficult to believe that those dreams will ever come to pass. The thicker the layer of dust, the more difficult it is to even remember the dreams, let alone imagine what fulfilment will look like. Before you know it, it is either too late to go after or you are too old. What a great shame.
Another dream stealer is the opinion of people. Just as the teacher in the story of the ranch owner thought his pupil was crazy to even think he could own a large ranch, people we know and love (and of course those that we don’t) can excel at putting out the fire of our dreams. Admittedly this is done inadvertently most of the time, as they look at your qualities (or lack of them) and decide that they had better put you in your place and save you the disappointment they are certain lies in your future if you keep dreaming. This is especially true when those dreams sound impossible or farfetched. But dreams by nature are never really easily obtainable, are they? Otherwise, they wouldn’t be called dreams. The sad thing is, we listen to the opinions of others and convince ourselves that they are right and we are wrong.
Now I am not saying there isn’t something to be said for listening to the wise advise of others, especially when they are people who have proven to be of sound judgement. There is certainly wisdom in hearing what they have to say and giving careful thought to admonition. We must never however allow anyone convince us our dreams are not worthy of pursuing even if we fail to realise those dreams.
Finally there is the dream stealer that is ‘yours truly’. You. Or rather, your self-talk. That voice in your head that asks questions like “Who are you to think you could ever accomplish this?” That inner ‘sensible’ voice that insists, “It’s just another pipe dream. Surely you don’t want to set yourself up for disappointment, do you?” It is the voice of reality. Or is it? Dreams are often far from reality. And rightly so. For they are the fuel that propels you forward. They are the motivation that helps you get up every morning with a desire to do something that will improve your life or someone else’s. Everyone has a dream or two. Everyone. Sometimes, though, our dreams are buried so deep underneath disappointment and despair that it will take an excavation crew to dig them up. The fear of disappointment must never stop us from going after what we truly feel is in our future because we learn just as much, if not more failure as we do from success.
So I have decided to pick up the dreams that I left on my shelves, dust them, and begin to pursue them again. Yes, a few will be discarded simply because I no longer have any desire to see them become reality or they have to give way to bigger dreams. There are some that wisdom dictates are not mine to pursue because they clash with my personality or skill mix. But after weeding these out, the rest will be worth going after.
Will there be obstacles? Of this I am sure. Will I be tempted to give up? Most certainly. Will I come against the dream stealers of time, people’s opinions and my own self-talk? Assuredly. But I have decided that I would rather get to the end of my life knowing I had followed my heart and my dreams, than wonder what might have been. And who knows, those dreams could very well come to pass. What about you? What are you doing to do with your dreams?
Read about our story of how we followed our dream to build our own home from scratch. Building Eden: How we built our home with zero experience and not enough money