How do you create a dream? What are your dreams? Spend a few minutes, right now, writing them down. Of course, don’t edit your thoughts, just ask –what are my dreams? And start writing down the thoughts that come immediately to you. Make a list.
I’m a dreamer. I got it from my Dad. He always played the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. He’d say “you can’t win if you don’t play” and he’d dream. He dreamed of big sailboats, travel and I’m sure enough money to pay off our house and finish the master bedroom and all the other projects around. I play too and I know exactly what I would do if I won. My Dad hasn’t won the Publisher’s Clearinghouse. I’m not sure he still plays. I haven’t won either, not Publisher’s or the lottery. We’re both dreamers and we’ve both created some of those dreams in our lives without the millions promised in a sweepstakes or lottery.
Several years ago I looked at my life and wondered – how did you get here? It felt like it had all just happened and I had watched and participated but I hadn’t necessarily been in the driver’s seat. I took some time to figure out what type of career I wanted. At the time I was a mid-level manager in a non-profit organization serving people with disabilities. It was work I had been doing since I was 14 years old. I explored my desires and dreams through experiential adventure. First, I participated in a 72 day leadership course with Outward Bound. At the top of an 80 foot rappel I sat terrified behind dark sunglasses, wondering – how did you get yourself in this mess? And the reality was I had signed up for the course and each step was a challenge and accomplishment. I did tie-in to the rappel line and backed off the side of the mountain and lowered myself the 80 feet to the ground. On rappel, the rappeller is in control of the descent. I had the ability to stop or slow down whenever I needed to. But I had to finish the rappel to be on solid ground again. I learned many things on that trip and lessons that I continue to figure out and use throughout my life. Outward Bound has a strong values based philosophy. Despite the challenges my group found in living these values I began incorporating them into my life: self-reliance and interdependence, physical fitness, compassion, service to others and craftsmanship.
After finishing the Outward Bound course I returned to my non-profit job and continued to explore my destination. My work in residential programs with people with disabilities had been filled with creating life plans and program plans for the people we served.
Through this process we created all sorts of new and innovative living arrangements, jobs, community supported goals for people.
I did much the same thing. I found a long lost passion for cycling and joined a bike club and started riding. I love the feel of travel, wandering and exploring. I decided to follow through on a dream I had and created a cross country bike tour. I began taking steps to make it happen.
1st: I joined a cycling club and began riding a lot
2nd: I told people I was going to bike across country
3rd: I signed up for a tour leader training course
4th: I found an organization that sponsored these types of trips and obtained local and national sponsorship support for the trip.
5th: I created an advisory committee to help me with the plan and oversee route development and safety.
6th: I worked on the day by day route, accommodations and service sites, making contacts and setting up our itinerary.
In creating the Peace Tour I had to keep working each step over and over to create the overall plan. And it ended up with a great tour route. We had one person sign up for the whole tour and two people sign up for shorter sections of the tour. I always felt like that was a failure, but the reality is that the sponsoring organization took on the marketing of the tour. My goal was to bike across country and I did. So from a perspective of goals, I accomplished my goal. I biked across the country and loved it. I love the feel of my bike with packs on it and the feel of the open road. A bicycle with everything we needed, right on it, is a true recreational vehicle.
I learned new things about myself on that tour. I saw the country from a close-up perspective. I met hundreds of Americans and found that the majority of people are good with no negative encounters with people, only generosity and kindness.
It is what is done in large corporations all the time. It is the clarity of vision and of purpose that provides a clear path or direction for the people within an organization. As individuals, we too, have vision and can develop a plan for making it happen. Setting a step by step plan has a better chance at success than does just having a passing or recurring day dream. For me, cycling cross country happened because I made it happen.
I took it step by step. Ask yourself, what are the pieces that make this dream happen? What do I need to put in place to create it?
Take it one step at a time. First, write your dream or vision down. Write in great detail, as if it is happening right now or picture yourself in the vision. How does it feel, how does it smell? What are the sounds you hear? What do you see? What are you doing? How has it changed your life? Write the details including all the feelings that being in your vision creates.
Step 2: What are the resources that you already have that can help make the vision a reality? Money, materials, supplies, time, property, frequent flier miles, friends, colleagues, and/or acquaintances? List them all.
Step 3: What resources or supports do you need to achieve your vision/dream/goal? List everything that could help you in succeeding. This is not the place to write in winning the lottery. Each item needs to be realistic. Things that seem out of reach are okay because these are often reachable, with determination and a plan.
Step 4: What steps do you need to take to achieve your vision/dream/goal? What are the steps? Break the vision down into the steps that need to happen. These often have a chronological order, but also may have steps that have to keep happening over and over. The steps can become the smaller goals you work towards so make them small and easy to achieve.
Step 5: When will you know you have succeeded? What will it look like, feel like, and sound like? This might be similar to your vision that you developed earlier but it is an important step as it helps you to measure your success. You can develop a measure for each step of the way and then check it off when you complete it. Or buy stars and give yourself a star for success for each step along the way. I have used stars for years with staff working with me. People think it sounds silly, but we all got a charge from them when we saw them on our paper in elementary school. As adults, we go right back to those feelings when we get one as adults. It makes the process a game. The check marks or stars become reinforcing for you as you succeed. They build enthusiasm and energy for success and they keep you moving forward.
I recommend once you are clear on your plan that you also tell people about it. Share your excitement and enthusiasm with others. They can be your resources and perhaps resources you didn’t realize existed. Talking about your plan helps to move it forward. When I started telling members of the bike club I rode with that I was cycling across the country they started helping me train. They made sure I was out riding and riding far. They helped me ride hard and fast and prepare for the Rocky Mountains. Share the plan.
Being a dreamer is great when you take hold of the dream and move it into your life.
Dream, create, live.
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Written by Donna Price, M.S., M.S. President and Founder of Compass Rose Consulting, LLC. Donna is a life coach and business coach providing extraordinary services to individuals and businesses. Donna has 18 years of management experience, has completed 72 day wilderness leadership course, cycled across the country and created new paths and directions for her life based on her vision for a healthy and balanced life.
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