There are four kinds of dreams. You’re probably already familiar with the first three:
- Literal Dreams – the kind you have when you’re sleeping. (A fascinating topic, but not the focus of this post.)
- Emerging Realities – the goals and visions that you’re actively working toward manifesting. (These are the “dreams that you dare to dream” that really do come true – works-in-progress where there’s actual progress!)
- Pipe Dreams – far-fetched fantasies, unrealistic flights of fancy, or downright impossible dreams. (This is the kind of dream that, I believe, gives dreamers a bad name!)
But there’s a fourth kind of dream that’s rarely discussed…but often experienced: velleities.
Merriam-Webster defines velleity as “the lowest degree of volition” or “a wish or inclination that is so insignificant that a person feels little or no compulsion to act.” In some ways, a velleity is like a pipe dream – a wish that, on some level, the wisher knows isn’t likely to come true. (For instance, wishing you could quit your job, sell your house, and go live on Pluto is a pipe dream.) Unlike a pipe dream, however, a velleity IS possible and realistic…but only if the dreamer takes the steps to make it real!
Velleity is one of my favorite – and least favorite – words!
It’s one of my least favorites because I find it so depressing when people have beautiful dreams but never take the steps to make them come true – thereby depriving the world of what would have been a beautiful reality!
But velleity is also one of my favorite words because, aside from making a critical distinction between dreams that are unlikely to manifest and those that are already on their way, it also calls the dreamer’s bluff: Do you REALLY want this dream – enough to make it happen (or at least give it your best effort) – or is it just a velleity?
Because I’m a writer, I’ll use writing a book as an example of different kinds of dreams. (If you’re also a writer, you’ll probably be able to relate to this. If not, I’m sure you can still apply this idea to examples in your own areas of interest.)
If you say, “I’m going to write a 3,000-page epic trilogy that uses a multi-generational romance to trace the history of Europe during the middle ages…and I’m going to start and finish it by the end of this month, the world’s #1 publisher will release it next month, Oprah will recommend it a few weeks later, and it will sell 100 million copies by the end of the year,” it’s easy to tell what kind of dream this is: yes, a pipe dream. It’s completely absurd, wildly far-fetched, and downright impossible. In short, it ain’t gonna happen. You know it. Everyone knows it.
But what kind of dream is it if you say, “I’m going to write a 200-page book based on my personal experiences. It will be positive, uplifting, and as well written as I can make it. I’ll finish it by the end of next year, self-publish it, and market it to my ‘tribe’ through social-media, emails, and a variety of creative promotional techniques.” – is that an emerging reality or just a velleity? From the outside, it’s hard to tell. Only you can know for certain.
Sure, many people say they’d like to write and publish a book. And most of them actually mean it. But what some of them mean is, “It sure would be nice if I’d already written a book, but I don’t plan on putting in the time and effort to actually write one in the foreseeable future.” (In other words, for these people – those who are merely dreamers but not doers – this dream is just a velleity.)
But there are some people (dreamers who are also doers!) who actually plan on writing and finishing a book within the coming year (or whatever time frame feels realistic). How do you recognize these people – and how can you tell if you’re one? How can you tell if you’re “working on a dream” (to borrow Bruce Springsteen’s phrase) that’s actually going to come true, as opposed to merely entertaining a pipe dream or velleity?
You can start by asking yourself these four questions:
- Can I “see” my completed dream? Do I know what it will look like (and feel like) when my dream comes true? Can I visualize it as an accomplished goal, or does that feel too far-fetched to even imagine?
- Is my dream a work in progress? Am I already taking steps to achieve my dream (such as writing down ideas, outlining, or actively writing a book), or is this a dream deferred indefinitely?
- Is it realistic? Do I have “SMART Goals” (that are specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound) or just some vague notion of wanting to accomplish something at some point?
- Have I enlisted help? Even for an activity as seemingly solitary as writing, you still need some kind of support: such as from an editor, agent, publishing/marketing expert, or (at the VERY least) an accountability partner to keep you on track and moving toward your goal.
If you can answer YES to these questions, chances are, your dream is more than just a velleity or a pipe dream – it’s an emerging reality!
If not, however, I urge you to do whatever you need to do to turn your dream into an emerging reality. You’ve probably heard the expression, “Don’t die with your music inside you.” Well, please don’t die with your book inside you (or your paintings or your company or whatever your dream happens to be). And don’t put it off indefinitely, either!
I’ve been on both sides of the dream (with books and other areas): feeling the frustration of letting a dream stall, stagnate, atrophy, and disappear…and also knowing the satisfaction of watching my “emerging reality” emerge – holding my published book in my hand and knowing that my dream became a reality! And I can tell you unequivocally: the second option feels a whole lot better!
Whether your dream is to write a book or do anything else that’s important to you (and others), remember that your dream came to you for a reason: to make it come true. I sincerely hope you will.
P.S. If you’re like me and you do have a dream to write, publish, and market your own book within the coming year, I’d love to help! In fact, my wife and I (along with a team of experts in design, marketing, editing, and other related areas) have put together a year-long program to support you in making this dream a reality!
It’s called Your Soulful Book, and for this month only, you can sign up at a huge earlybird-special discount! To learn all about it, please visit www.yoursoulfulbook.com.
I hope you’ll join me and a supportive group of fellow authors in making 2018 the year you successfully write, finish, publish, and market your soulful book! Let’s make a deal that your beautiful dream will NOT be a mere pipe dream, a velleity, or a dream that disappears the moment you wake up – but an emerging reality…soon to be a bona fide dream come true!