How big do you let yourself dream?
You can be honest, now. Nobody’s really looking or reading or listening to your thoughts, I promise.
Because I have this theory. It’s not fully formed so bear with me.
I think that when things get bad, money-wise, we get scared out of our big dreams.
The ghosts of our past Lecturers — you know, the Grown-Ups who lectured you when you were a kid, maybe your parents, maybe teachers, what- and/or who-ever they might be — start up again in our heads.
And the stuff they have to say is pretty cringe-inducing, if yours are anything like mine. They usually start with some variation of WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE and WHAT MAKES YOU THINK and HOW DARE YOU.
Or maybe you weren’t quite as audaciously frustrating as I (apparently) was as a kid. Maybe your Lecturers start in with the NOW, HONEY and the DON’T YOU THINK YOU SHOULD and MAYBE A BETTER IDEA WOULD BE.
Is any of this sounding familiar? If it isn’t, well, then click yourself on out of here, rock star. You don’t need what I’m pushing today.
But if it sounds all too painfully familiar? Read on, compadres.
The Pressure to Dream Small (Or Not At All)
There are a ton of forces in this world that will act upon your big dreams and they have a gazillion different methods but only one ultimate effect:
To squeeze your BIG DREAMS down to practical bite-sized itty-bitty dreams. (Although, frankly, to call some of them ‘dreams’ at all is hyperbole.)
Now, I know. I get it. When things get That Bad, and you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it’s awfully tempting to squeeze those Big Dreams down to size yourself, am I right? ‘Cause it’s scary as hell out there. Truly.
But here’s the thing: it’s scary no matter what size your dreams are. Big Dreams? Scary. Little dreams? Scary. No dreams at all? Scary. Plus freakin’ bleak.
And then there’s this: No great thing ever happened because somebody played it safe.
You might well ask yourself: In these hard economic times, isn’t it your duty to dream big? Hell, your idea might be the thing that turns it all around for everybody, right?
It could happen.
Getting Real About Your Dreams
And then there’s this gem, pulled out on me by (of all people) my ex-husband, when I was trying to decide whether to go into business for myself the first time around, or stay in my cushy public employment job that was killing my soul because I was subjected to having to deal with a handful of elected officials. Local officials.
(Local politics, by the way, is so bloodthirsty because the stakes are so low.)
And here’s what he said, after I had trotted out all the Reasons Why This Is A Stupid-Ass Idea And I Should Just Stay Put:
“So, let me get this straight. You’re going to choose to have your livelihood and sense of self dependent on the whims of twelve elected local officials, rather than your own skills and efforts? Did I get that right?”
Oh, damn. I got schooled.
Now – ahem – yes, he was right, and yes, even though he was right, that first business failed in a HUGE spectacular way. I mean, it imploded.
And I survived. And I picked up the pieces, eventually. And sometime later, I started playing with those pieces. And then I started putting them back together again, but in a (we hope) sturdier and more structurally sound fashion.
So, here’s my question to you: If it’s gonna be scary no matter how big the dream is, why not dream big and GO big?
Yes, you may well fail. You may, like me, be fortunate enough to screw up so brilliantly that they’ll still be talking about the fallout decades from now in hushed and awed tones. And then you’ll look at all the pieces around your feet. And then one day you’ll pick them up, and then one day after that you’ll start playing around with them, and you’ll try again — but better this time.
Or, you might not. Fail, I mean. You might just succeed.
And rest assured, I’ll so be taking some of the credit for that.
I’ll leave you with this thought: Just pretend for a few minutes that you’re allowed to dream BIG. (Just … humor me. For a minute.) What would that BIG DREAM look like?