In this episode, Permission to Dream, we’re talking about the power of dreams (the awake ones, not the sleepy ones) and the role they play in living lives that feel full, meaningful and authentic.
We talk about why we have dreams, how dreams are connected to our faith, why we sometimes don’t act on them, and the three things I believe to be true about your dreams. Let’s dive in.
The full episode:
How are you today? I think it’s going to be a good one. Before we dive into this episode, episode number five, I want to say THANK YOU for listening. It’s been exciting to launch Beyond Happy, but even better has been the responses and reviews that have started to come in. They mean so much to me and encourage me. Thank you for listening, thank you for commenting that you’re sharing these episodes with your friends or your coworkers or your husband or your sisters. That tells me that this is getting valuable, helpful content out there to you, and THAT is my whole mission here. And please keep ‘em coming! For a newbie podcast like Beyond Happy, these reviews and ratings mean EVERYTHING because they help others find the podcast.
So far our episodes have been very foundational. I’ve been teaching some concepts that are setting the stage for what we’ll be building on in the weeks ahead. We’ve talked about circumstances – what they are, what they aren’t, and how they’re neutral. We’ve talked about circumstances triggering thoughts in our brain. These thoughts create stories – we are literally walking through life telling ourselves stories about our lives by what we make it mean. Did you ever realize that you’re an author? You aren’t just metaphorically writing a story when living your life. You literally create the story of your life by the thoughts you choose. We also talked about how thoughts create our feelings. Every single one. Every feeling you have is tied to a very specific thought. If you’d say you feel good most of the time – that is, you’re experiencing what you’d call pleasant or comfortable emotions – it’s because the majority of your thoughts are creating these feelings. If you’d say the opposite, that the majority of your life is spent feeling uncomfortable emotions – and there are so so many, but these might include feelings of anger, sadness, worry, frustration, disappointment, confusion, guilt – this is also because the majority of your thoughts are creating these feelings.
So we’ve laid some groundwork, and today’s episode is going to be a little different in nature. In this episode, we’re talking about what you want in your life. We’re talking about those powerful things called dreams. Specifically, giving yourself permission to dream.
The coaching clients I work with come to me usually for one of two reasons. The first one is that they have a problem or life challenge they want help with. This looks like many different things but it might include a marriage or relationship issue, maybe something they’re struggling with as a parent, or business owner, or maybe they’re constantly frustrated or disappointed and just want to feel better. That’s the first reasons clients come to work with me. The second reason clients like to work with me is because they have a dream or a goal they want to make happen in their life.
As a big dreamer myself, I love this work. I love working with clients on chasing their dreams. The thing is, many of us love to dream, don’t we? It’s fun! It’s exciting to think about what’s possible in life.
What makes dreaming about our future so fun?
Dreams are fun because they’re safe places to think big. To create. To imagine. Dreaming gives us a break from reality. And while dreaming, like daydreaming, can be an escape from reality, seen as irresponsible to some, they can actually be safe places to “try on” ideas and ambitions without the element of risk that doing so in real life would entail. Dreaming can be fun because it shows us the big picture of what is possible. In everyday life, seeing the big picture while in our everyday routine, focusing on the details and responsibilities right in front of us can be tough. Dreaming lets us take a step back and gives us a different perspective.
As kids, we start dreaming early. We dream about what we want to be when we grow up, we dream about what we’ll do when school’s out for the summer. We may dream about who we’ll marry or what our family will be like. We dream about being cowboys and princesses and doctors and life coaches. Just kidding. I didn’t dream about that. But as kids, we use our imagination and expectation to let that dream take shape and then think about how the experience of living it out will feel. Dreaming lets us step out of what IS and into what COULD be.
We dream as adults too. But often, we don’t dream as big or as openly as we do when we’re kids. While some of us are more comfortable with dreaming than others, some feel it’s just irresponsible. Impractical. Immature. Distracting. Unrealistic. And yet for others, dreaming is everything. It fuels them thinking about growth, opportunity, possibility. It’s empowering to some to think about what is possible in life, and CAN lead to setting goals and creating tremendous life changes.
Even the biggest of dreamers are tempted to stay quiet. To play small. To keep those dreams internal. Keep it to themselves. Why is this?
It’s because of FEAR.
It feels like anxiety or nausea and it sounds like the voice inside you sharing all the thoughts like:
You shouldn’t be doing this.
WHO do you think you are?
This is never going to work.
You’re not smart enough.
This is a terrible idea.
You don’t know what you’re doing.
These thoughts come up because of that primitive brain of ours. It likes to be comfortable, right? It likes to play it safe. Protect you. And dreams? Dreams that reach you and stretch you and grow you? Not safe, says your brain. Not happening. Our brain is programmed for self-preservation. And the unknown nature of dream chasing is SCARY. Our brain wants to nothing to do with it. So it tries to tell you all the reasons this is a VERY bad idea.
And in most cases? Your brain succeeds. Because you concede. You give in.
Your brain is so powerful. The most amazing tool. Incredible. The human mind was built with capabilities so beyond what the other parts of creation were given. We were created not just with the capability to survive as a being, but to THRIVE – to go beyond. To experience hope in the unknown, faith in things we cannot see, intense emotion, possibility. We were created with the capacity to grow. We were made for more, and that includes the ability to dream.
Today, I want to give you permission to dream.
It’s not that I think you NEED permission to dream. But that for some reason, you may be holding yourself back for dreaming big for yourself. Maybe you’re hesitating. And if something I could say could help you break free from that? From holding back on living out the life you REALLY want to pursue? To have the freedom to reach for more, to live big and go for it? Then it’s totally worth it. So yep, I’m giving you permission, but it’s a permission you were already granted by God when he made you and gave you free will over your life choices. You have permission to pay attention to those nudges and urges on your heart. The whispers that call to you and don’t let go. Because just like you, they are NOT accidental. They are intentional. Planted within you on purpose. Your dreams are not my dreams are not his dreams or her dreams. Only your dreams are yours. It was planned that way.
Your dreams live inside of you because they are yours.
I love the term divine breadcrumbs. It speaks to those unmistakable occurrences that happen in life. Some we probably miss. Or maybe we miss many of them. But I believe they’re there, if we’re looking. If we’re listening. Waiting to show us the way. What starts with one nudge, one piece of the puzzle leads us to the next right thing, and then the next. And the next.
You see, I don’t believe we were ever intended to do this thing called life on our own. And these divine breadcrumbs? They speak to that truth. They also speak to the truth that you are not a mistake or an accident. You were created on purpose, with purpose, and there is a plan for your life that is likely bigger than your human mind can grasp. God’s gracious plans for our lives our infinitely more powerful anything we could imagine on our own.
I believe that sometimes the purpose of dreams is to direct us along the path we were created to follow. So often I hear the term “find your purpose”. But finding alludes to something being lost or missing. In my opinion, our purpose is very clear and not at all mysterious. Our purpose to become who we were created to be. To become who God created us to be, and in doing so, living into our true authentic self. And that purpose is the same for every single human being. So it’s not a question of purpose. Instead, it’s a question of what living that out looks like for you.
Often, we don’t chase dreams. We stay small. Where we are. Where it’s comfortable. And you know that your brain LOVES being comfortable. So it doesn’t stop us. And yet, that nudge persists. Day after day. And sometimes, we tell ourselves we shouldn’t acknowledge it’s even there because, wanting more? It feels selfish. It sounds selfish. I mean, “what will other people think? What will it say about me if I go for the big thing? What will they think if I want more, if I chase a big audacious dream without even knowing HOW I’m going to accomplish it?” but just know in my bones that it’s what I’m supposed to be doing?”
Have you been there? Tell me, does this sound familiar at all?
“What will he think if I decide to lose 50 pounds?”
“What will she say if I want to quit my job and start my dream business?”
“What will they think if I want to quit my job and stay at home with my kids?”
“What will they say if I decide I don’t want to be a stay at home mom anymore, and that I want to go back to my old job?”
“What will they think if I tell them I want to write a book?”
Run a marathon?
Go back to school?
Start a non-profit?
Move into a tiny house?
Travel the world with my family?
We also think,
“If I go for this, doesn’t it mean I’m not content with where I am right now?”
“I don’t NEED this. I just want this. Doesn’t that mean I’m not grateful for what I have?”
We’ve all been there. Admit it or not, there are many times when we let caring what others think overrule those urges we have to want. To want more in life. To reach. To dream.
Let me tell you about what I believe about you and your dreams.
Dreams help us evolve into the best version of ourselves.
What’s the difference between a dream and a goal? A dream is internal. It lives in our minds as maybe-possibility. It remains internal and isn’t acted upon UNLESS it becomes a goal. A goal is external. Once your dream is spoken aloud on written on paper, it exists. It becomes a goal that you can ACT upon. You can not only dream it, you can do something ABOUT it.
If we believe our life’s purpose is to evolve into who we’re becoming, to grow into the version of ourselves we were created to be, then we can see goal setting is a spiritual practice. Because it’s about growing and stretching ourselves beyond the comfortable and easy. Dreams and goals require a faith that just playing it safe and going through the same motions, day after day, simply doesn’t. So these dreams of yours? They aren’t selfish, meaningless desires. Often, they require something beyond your current level of ability. They require faith and belief to carry you through. Without faith in who you were created to be and belief that you are capable of doing hard, new things, you won’t. Because it is uncomfortable. Growth always is. And your brain will convince you that hard things aren’t worth chasing.
Chasing dreams and reaching goals won’t make you happy.
Yep, you heard me right. Are you thinking right now, but waaaiiit a minute, isn’t that the whole point? That I’ll be better, I’ll FEEL better, once I reach my goal? Isn’t that what makes it worth it to begin with?
Nope. No M’am (or sir) it isn’t.
Often, we want things in our lives because of something we lack. If we don’t feel happy, we must need to change something to make ourselves happy, right? That’s what we tell ourselves. We don’t feel happy when we look in the mirror, so we want to lose weight. We don’t feel happy when we see our paycheck, so we want a higher paying job. We don’t feel happy in our marriage, so we get a divorce. Or maybe we don’t feel happy in our marriage, so we have a baby. It’s like riding a hamster wheel. Continuous pursuit of happiness in ways that will never make us happy.
Why won’t reaching goals make us happy? Well, we know happiness is a feeling. And we also know all feelings come from our thoughts. We’re not going to find happiness in a future circumstance we create for ourself by reaching a goal. We have to feel it now. Already. Chasing a dream, reaching a future goal or achieving something isn’t going to increase our capacity for happiness. The point of having dreams and setting goals to not to be happier than we are right now in this moment. We set goals because, if our purpose in this life is to be who we were created to be – to stretch and grow and use our God-given gifts and talents to serve Him and others, this is how we become that version of ourselves. Goals give us direction and opportunity to stretch and grow into who we’re becoming.
It’s more about the journey getting there than it is about the accomplishing dream.
Are you thinking I’m nuts right about now?! (Laugh.) I just told you chasing your dream or reaching your goal isn’t going to make you happy, and now I’m telling you it’s the chasing of the dream, the striving for the goal that’s actually more important than reaching the goal itself.
Okay, now that I said that out loud, I can see why you might think I’m crazy. Stay with me.
I also COMPLETELY believe this. It’s all about the process. Life is a process. Goals and dreams just provide direction along the way.
Does this mean you should forget about dreams and goals? Absolutely not! They’re still and life-giving and empowering as ever, just for different reasons than you might’ve originally thought.
First, goals give your brain direction and supervision. Since we aren’t living in a world today where our brain needs to be on the lookout for potential animal attacks or constant life-threats, like it was thousands of years ago, giving it purposeful direction is a really good thing.
Next, goals push us outside of our comfort zones. When we stick with it, we develop confidence in our capability. We learn that we can do hard things. We face obstacles and learn how to use the resources we have at hand to overcome them. We learn things about ourselves, about life and the world that we never would have otherwise. We test our faith and we test our beliefs. We grow deeper and further into who we’re becoming, and it’s all happening before the goal is even reached.
Finally, dreams and goals allow you to create an intentional life – a life you truly want. If we believe that the world is in constant tension between good and evil, between positive and negative, and if we believe that around half of our life experience will be uncomfortable – because that’s how it is, then we have a choice. We can stay where we are, comfortable and safe and not evolving, yet still uncomfortable or experiencing some negativity half the time, OR we can choose to experience that 50% discomfort while chasing dreams and doing big things and learning and growing by showing ourselves what’s possible. Because there’s hard work and discomfort involved in chasing dreams and reaching toward goals for sure, but if you’re going to experience some discomfort either way – just different forms of it – why not choose to go for it? Reach for more and see what happens?
If you are one who’s never really thought about want to want for your life, what is possible in the big picture, this is your permission to dream. Maybe you’ve been playing it safe where it’s comfortable. Maybe you’ve been content with what’s familiar, and that’s okay. Many of us are. But let this be an invitation to you. An invitation to consider that maybe there is more waiting for you if you’re willing to stretch. It’s not that you aren’t enough right now – because you absolutely are. Your value comes from who you are, and who you were created to be – NOT by what you do. BUT, when you think about what you want your life to be, maybe this permission slip of sorts is that first step for you to acknowledge that it’s okay to have dreams. It’s more than okay. Dreams turn into goals and goals make things happen. How might you impact your life, your family’s life, or even a complete stranger’s life, if you show someone else what’s possible by reaching for more?
Now, maybe like me, you totally ARE a dreamer at heart. You thrive on possibility and potential. You’re just as excited thinking about doing the thing as you are actually doing it. But I have to ask, what are you doing with those dreams? Are you keeping them safe up in the attic of your brain, where no one else can see them, or are you making them come alive? Think about the impact of letting just one dream or goal, one life change coming alive in your life. Is it scary to speak our deepest dreams out loud. It’s completely scary. YES! Remember, your brain wants to tell you why you should just stay comfortable. But. Do you know the ONE thing that separates the dreamers from the DOERS? Can you guess? It’s TAKING ACTION. Taking action is the scary part of dreams, but it’s the necessary part.
And in episode 6, that’s exactly what we’ll be talking about. TAKING ACTION in life.
Okay. That wraps up what I have for you today. I pray this speaks to you and is helpful as you learn more about what you want for your life. Have the best day, and if this episode taught you something, fired you up or just gave you new perspective, share it with someone you know who might be blessed by the message. I believe this work changes lives because I see it happening day after day. Thank for you taking the time to listen and invest in your own wellness. It means everything. It changes everything.
Be well friends. Until next time.