What are your dreams? I don’t mean those that fill your brain as you sleep at night; I mean the things that occupy your thoughts, keep you from falling asleep at night, or divert your focus when you are trying to get something done.
Those things you dreamed of becoming, dreamed of going, or dreamed of attaining, but not the things you dreamed of having – those materialistic things.
Langston Hughes wrote about what happens when you give up on a dream in his poem “Dream Deferred.”
What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore-- And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over-- like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?
I used to teach this poem in American Literature. We talked about dreams. We talked about what happens if we give up on our dreams for our future.
Many of them had the perfect dream life in their mind: a great job, a house, a family, friends. You get the picture. When I asked them how they planned to achieve their dreams, many had no clue. They hadn’t made the connection between dreams and goals. Many had the impression that after they graduated from college they could work at their chosen career for top, six-figure pay the first year on the job. Pointing out the reality of their opinion was futile.
A dream can’t be achieved until it is turned into a goal: something to aim for and a plan developed in order to achieve that goal.
I wanted to become a veterinarian. I loved animals. It was my dream career, one of several in a long line of possible careers. When I began researching how to achieve my dream and what steps I would need to take to achieve my goal, I found, in the 1970s, that it was not an achievable goal for me. I didn’t have the right grades to get me into the right college/university for my undergraduate degree, and even if I did improve my grades, I would need to excel at physical science, chemistry, and math in addition to biology. (Go ahead. Laugh now. Laugh a great big belly laugh.) Not to mention the cost and the additional years of schooling beyond the bachelor’s degree and the time involved.
In the long run, I was never disappointed that I pocketed that dream. I saw the many points along the path where I would never quite hit the target.
I have a dream now of finishing a novel and having it published. I’ve been playing with that dream for several years now. Recently, I began to take my dream seriously. I’ve set down some framework in the form of goals in order to be successful in achieving the goal of publishing my novel. Is it easy? Nope. And it isn’t the kind of goal that is easily and quickly accomplished, but it is worth my time.
Your dreams are worth while pursuing, but first, turn the dream into tangible goals. Then, you can break that goal into the steps you need to take to get where you want to be.