4 Kinds of Dreams

book dreamsThere 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.

Your Soulful Book - a heart-centered writing programP.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!

Ego and Soul: Opponents or Partners?

I love to read for so many reasons: for inspiration, for education, and just for the fun of it! I read because it expands my world and introduces me to new people and new perspectives. I read, as C. S. Lewis said, “to know we are not alone.” And I read because, every now and then, an author takes a thought that I’d had, but hadn’t been able to put into words, and articulates it far more eloquently than I could’ve done. I recently had this experience (again and again and again) while reading Jodi Chapman’s new book, Soul Bursts.

I love so […] Continue Reading…

Goes to Show, You Don’t Ever Know

I recently experienced a frustrating — but ultimately eye-opening and heart-opening — situation with a company I’d contracted to do some work around my house. The situation was that they never showed up and never returned my calls…even after they’d been paid for the work.

Because they’re a reputable company, I wasn’t worried that they’d split the country with the money I’d already paid (a relatively small amount, fortunately); I was more just confused. I couldn’t help wondering: Didn’t they want the work?  Didn’t they want the rest of the money I would’ve paid them (if they would actually show up and do the […] Continue Reading…

I’ll Have What She’s Having

If you’ve ever seen the movie When Harry Met Sally, you undoubtedly remember the famous scene of Meg Ryan, um, “faking it” in the deli. (Even if you haven’t seen the movie, chances are you’ve seen this clip in one of the countless montages it’s featured in.) And, in either case, you also probably remember the “topper” line that closes the scene (delivered by the director’s mother, Estelle Reiner): “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Aside from its raunchy comedic value, this line offers great advice about relationships, business, and just about every other area of life: Rather than trying to […] Continue Reading…

What’s Next?

Have you ever experienced (or witnessed) any of these scenarios?:

You just got married, and people immediately start asking you when you’re going to have kids.
You just experienced a loss or setback, and people immediately start trying to “help” you move forward.
You just finished a major project, and people immediately start asking you what you’re going to do next.
You watch a sports team celebrate winning the championship, and a reporter asks about their plans for next season.

In these situations (or any similar ones), the questions all boil down to the same essence: What’s next?

What’s next on the agenda? What are you going […] Continue Reading…

My (Belated) Words of the Year

For the past few years, I’ve come up with a word of the year — something that encapsulated my desired focus and aspirations for the coming 12 months. I fully expected to do the same this year as well, but when January 1 rolled around, I just wasn’t feeling it.

No single word was calling to me — and the words that did keep springing into my mind (such as anger, bewilderment, disgust, and disillusionment) were hardly ones that I wanted to serve as my theme for the year! But trying to force myself to “fake it till I make it” […] Continue Reading…

And for my next act…

Yesterday, Jodi and I (along with over 250 contributing authors) launched our new book, 365 Life Shifts: Pivotal Moments That Changed Everything. I am so grateful to everyone who contributed to this collection (the third volume of the 365 Book Series), the hundreds of people who promoted it (which helped it become an instant #1 bestseller on Amazon), and the thousands of people who will read it and open their hearts to these true stories of transformation.

As I reflect on this project, I realize that it came about at a perfect time for me, although it didn’t always feel this […] Continue Reading…

The Upside of Anger

I used to think that anger was always bad. Growing up, I got the message that it was an unacceptable emotion. And as a young adult, I thought that it was somehow “unspiritual.” More recently, however, my perspective has changed.

I still don’t think that anger is a fun emotion to feel or a fun “place” to hang out (and I’m extremely wary of those who make it their home), but I’ve come to see that there is an upside of anger.

As I now see it, here are three of anger’s biggest benefits:

1. It allows you to practice self-acceptance and […] Continue Reading…

Hold the Light

For most people, this is one of the most festive times of the year. And, for most of my life, the same has been true for me.

I generally love the holiday season, and last year I had one of the best Christmases of my life, as Jodi and I made our first trip to the beach in our new hometown.

But this year, if I’m being honest, I’m not really feeling the holiday spirit. Between the election, recent world events, and the general tone of public discourse, I’ve often found my recent moods swinging between blah and yuck.

Fortunately, though, I know […] Continue Reading…

Be the Change

During this time of deep personal (and, to a large extent, national and international) grief, I find myself looking for rays of light and glimmers of hope.

As I mentioned in my two previous posts, I often draw inspiration from spiritual quotes and the Abraham-Hicks teachings; so now I’m combining these by taking an Abe approach to one of my favorite quotes:
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”*
– Mahatma Gandhi
I’ve been thinking about these words in relation to the Abraham teaching of contrast — namely, that when something clearly shows you what you don’t want, it helps you […] Continue Reading…