Dream Small

dream-smallDream Big!

You’ve probably seen or heard this advice many times — from friends, colleagues, social-media posts, and personal-growth blogs: Dream big! Dream bigger!

And yes, oftentimes, this is great advice! After all, you want a dream that’s big enough to inspire you, to get your blood pumping, or at least to get you out of bed in the morning! And if you have a minuscule dream — for instance, to chew a piece of gum — that’s probably not exactly going to fill you with buoyant enthusiasm and zest for life. So, in this case, I would agree with the multitudes urging you to dream bigger!

But what if you’re on the other end of the dream-size spectrum? For instance, what if your dream is to earn $10 billion today?! Or to personally shake the hand of every living person this month? Or to walk on Pluto barefoot?!

In these cases, maybe dreaming bigger isn’t the best advice. For these dreamers, a better piece of advice might be: Dream smaller!

Yes, these are intentionally silly examples — ridiculously big and far-fetched. But many people have dreams that seem almost as far-fetched — not because they can’t be reached, but because on some level (perhaps not even consciously) the dreamer doesn’t truly believe that they can reach them.

And that really is the key to reaching and living your dreams: BELIEF!

Belief varies greatly from one person to another. The same dream might seem too big for one person to believe, but too small to inspire another.

For instance, one person might not believe that they could earn six figures, while another person might not find that dream big enough to inspire them…unless they add a figure or two! One person might not believe that they could write a book, while another wouldn’t be inspired by this dream…unless they also set a goal to make it a #1 bestseller. One person might not believe that they could reach their ideal weight, while another one sees this health goal as uninspiring…unless they also decide to run a marathon.

None of these dreams are “right” or “wrong.” Dreams don’t come “one size fits all.” It’s about finding a dream that you find both inspiring and believable.

Sweet-Spot Dreams

Some dreams are so big that they seem impossible, some are so small that they hardly seem worth it, and others are “just right” (as Goldilocks might say) — big enough to stretch you to live more fully, but not so big that you don’t actually expect to realize/live it.

So, when setting your dreams and goals, find that “sweet spot” between uninspiringly small and unrealistically big. Sometimes this will mean enlarging your dream — to make it more inspiring, to stretch you out of your comfort zone and closer to your full potential. Oftentimes, however, it may mean scaling back (at least temporarily) so that you can actually believe and achieve your dream.

Let’s revisit our intentionally silly/enormous dreams from above. Maybe these dreams could be revised to make them more realistic, believable, and achievable: Perhaps the $10 billion dream could turn into a goal of increasing their income by 50% (or 100% or 200%) in the next 3-6 months. The hand-shaker could set a dream/goal of meeting at least one new person each day for a month (or beyond). And the Pluto trip might be replaced by a dream of visiting all seven continents (and/or other exotic locations).

Building on Smaller Dreams

One final point to remember about dream sizes is that they don’t have to be permanent! You can always start with a “sweet-spot” dream — one that stretches you yet still seems believable — and then, once you’re living it, make it even bigger!

I once heard Ted Turner bemoaning the fact that his father had set a too-small dream: to become a millionaire. Once his father reached this dream, according to Ted, he lost the zest that big dreams can inspire.

I couldn’t help thinking that, with all due respect to the senior Mr. Turner, he must have lacked imagination. Why, after reaching his initial goal, couldn’t he have built upon it? Why couldn’t he have decided to set a dream to earn $10 million? Or, like his son, why couldn’t he have set dreams about how to use that money in interesting ways? Or why couldn’t he have used the security that the wealth provided to dream new dreams in areas that went well beyond business or finances?

After all, you’re not allowed only one dream per lifetime! And your dream is not set in stone — you can build on it, revise it, scale it back, or enlarge it whenever you’d like!

A small, modest-sized, or even fairly large dream does not mean that you won’t be able to dream bigger and bigger as time goes on. What it does mean is that you won’t discourage yourself by dreaming a dream that seems absurdly unrealistic and unreachable. It means that you’ll get in the habit of reaching your dreams. You’ll expect success. You’ll create a body of evidence that you can and do reach your dreams — which will make it that much more likely that you’ll continue to do so…even as you dream bigger and bigger and bigger!

But you don’t have to start with $10 billion, shaking 7 billion hands, or walking on Pluto. You can start exactly where you are — by considering what you want, what inspires you, what you truly believe, and what vision fills you with passion.

And then you can experience the joy of moving toward this dream…and living it!

Is your dream big enough to inspire you but small enough to believe in it? How could you expand your dream to make it more inspiring (but still believable) or scale it back (at least for now) to make it more believable? Or, if it’s already in that “just-right” zone, how can you keep moving toward it and living this dream?

bring your dreams set

P.S. If you’d like to find and live your “sweet-spot” dreams, check out our brand-new journal set: Bring Your Dreams to Life. To celebrate its launch, the set is HALF OFF all month!

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[Photo by lindrik / 123RF Stock Photo]

Life Lesson from Steven Wright

There’s an old joke by Steven Wright: “Somebody stole everything in my apartment and replaced it with an exact replica.”

I always loved the surreal humor of this one-liner (and dozens of others from Wright’s seemingly endless supply, made all the better by his deadpan delivery). Recently, though, I got to thinking that this bizarre hypothetical scenario might contain an important life lesson.

As strange as it may seem, many things in our lives are repeatedly replaced with “replicas” — relationships, possessions, and situations in all areas of life:

You get out of one relationship only to have it replaced by another with the same dynamic.
You […] Continue Reading…

Seeing Yourself Through the Eyes of Love

The Lie of Self-Criticism…and the Truth of Self-Love
Have you ever seen the Dove Soap commercials where a police artist sketches women based on verbal descriptions?

The artist (who doesn’t see the women) makes two sets of drawings: the first set is based on each woman describing herself; the second set is based on other women’s descriptions of them. The differences are staggering: The drawings based on others’ descriptions show beautiful women, while the drawings based on self-descriptions are ugly—almost deformed—with every so-called flaw grotesquely magnified.

This experiment illustrates (quite literally!) the extent to which many people suffer from poor self-image—an issue […] Continue Reading…

Smoke ’em if ya got ’em!

When my dad was in basic training for the army, every time they’d take a break, someone would yell out: Smoke ’em if ya got ’em!

(This was in the early 1950s, when it was assumed that the only reason someone wouldn’t smoke during a short break was because they’d run out of cigarettes!)

At the end of the 15 minutes (or however long the break lasted), it was back to basic training. The window of opportunity for cigarettes was officially closed, whether or not you’d smoked.

Although I’ve never been a smoker and definitely don’t encourage the habit, this line does make a […] Continue Reading…

Your Biggest Addiction

Unless I know you fairly well, I don’t know what addictions you do or don’t have. I don’t know if you smoke, drink to excess, gamble compulsively, binge eat junk food, or bite your nails.

I also don’t know if you have any positive addictions (or, if that feels too much like an oxymoron, we can just call them good habits). You might meditate every day, exercise, drink green smoothies, or do anything else on a regular basis that helps you feel better — and that, if you were to stop suddenly, would make you go through withdrawal (or at least feel […] Continue Reading…

How Do You Solve the South Pole?

As ludicrous as it might sound, what if your friend told you that they wanted to “solve” the South Pole? (And no, they weren’t talking about global warming — and no, they’re not a penguin.) Imagine the ridiculous conversation you might have:

Friend: I’ve got a big problem: Every year I go to the South Pole, and I always get really cold — even if I bundle up in the warmest clothes I have.

You: Well, then just don’t go there!

Friend: But that doesn’t solve the problem! That’s just avoidance!

You: Exactly! I think that you should avoid going to the South Pole! Maybe instead, […] Continue Reading…

Getting out of the Mental Mud

The biggest change in my life over the past few months is that now, unlike before, when I realize I’ve made a wrong turn, I don’t keep driving down that road!

I’m not talking about literal wrong turns (although it’s true for those as well).
I’m not talking about figurative wrong turns — actions that lead you someplace where you didn’t want to go. (I’ve already written a post about that — and what to do when it happens.)
I’m talking about mental “wrong turns” — thought patterns that take you off your intended path…perhaps even into an inner “ditch.”

It’s not a big deal to have unintended thoughts. In […] Continue Reading…

What’s Your Word of the Year? (Here’s Mine)

For the past few years I’ve practiced my own personal New Year’s tradition:

On January 1, I pick a word for the year and write it on my bathroom mirror — where it stays for the next 365 days.

I write the word in bold, blue Sharpie and position it so that whenever I look in the mirror, I see it just above my head (or, if I’m standing with particularly good posture, as if it’s written directly on my forehead).

Each time I see the word, it reinforces its meaning, its power, and its role in my life — so I’m careful to choose a word that […] Continue Reading…

New Year’s Manifestations (NOT Resolutions!)

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope that you had a wonderful end to 2014 and a happy New Year’s celebration — and that 2015 is already starting off great for you!
So, it’s that time of year again: time to turn over a new calendar page, turn over a new leaf, and make your New Year’s resolutions.
(Or not.)
When you think of New Year’s resolutions, do you think, “Yay!” — or do you think, “Ugh!”. Or do you start off thinking, “Yay!” (in January) and end up thinking “Ugh!” (by February, if not sooner).
If you’ve ever gotten excited about a New Year’s resolution — […] Continue Reading…

Be Like a Kid on Christmas Morning

Here’s something you can probably imagine, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas or have kids…

Think of a kid on Christmas morning — before they open presents…or even see them.

How do you think they feel? Bored? Excited? Or do they not feel much of anything at all until they actually open their presents?

Most likely, they’re bouncing off the walls with excitement from the minute they wake up! (That is, if they managed to sleep at all!)

They don’t wait until they actually see their presents until they feel excited. They don’t wait until they open them. They don’t wait until they […] Continue Reading…