The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.
Stop for a minute and really think about this quote. Apply it to your own life. How high are you reaching? Where are you selling yourself short? Do you have aspirations you won't let yourself pursue? Most of us have potential that far exceeds the goals and dreams we actually allow ourselves to have.
Part of the reason we don't aim as high as we could is that the idea of having a target that is so far beyond the horizon we can see feels scary. What if we fail? What if it really is out of our reach? What if we aim at it and fall short? "See? I told you it was all just an unrealistic pipedream!" Ouch! With thoughts like that, no wonder we avoid the big dreams.
The Big Dream Guidance System
One way to shift how you think about those big dreams is to see them as a way to define the direction and scope of your efforts. Think of them as a guidance system, rather than goals that must be achieved.
For example, my big dream might be to be able to reach millions of people and help them create a life that lights them up while making a difference that inspires them. The idea of that many people making the world a better place by living a life they love is incredibly energizing.
To be more specific, I might want to have a string of best-selling books. I might want to be one of the top speakers in the world, touching thousands of people at a time. I might want to be a regular on Oprah and other talk shows.
If I look at that as my Big Dream Guidance System, it tells me that my primary focus - regardless of scale - is to help people make the world a better place through a career and a life they love. That is a constant whether I am doing it at a local level or an international level.
It also gives me a scope: writing and speaking. Again, these are things I want to focus on regardless of the scale I achieve. And as I focus on the things within that scope, I can see that other things I might find really interesting and fun - travel photography, for example - won't necessarily fit. That focus keeps my energy moving in a direction I really care about most.
Step by step with sub-dreams
Having that direction and scope then allows you to dream targeted "sub-dreams," smaller-scale dreams that aim your energy in the direction of your big dream.
One of my sub-dreams might be a single best-selling book. Or even just having a book accepted by a publisher. Or writing a book - published or not - just to show myself I can do it.
This is similar to the idea of identifying a big goal and chunking it down until you get manageable bites. But in this case, it's about harnessing the energy inherent in dreams.
You may never reach your big dream. But when you use it as a guidance system instead of a goal, that doesn't really matter. What matters is that it helps you plot a course for your life that will leave you feeling energized, inspired, and engaged.
Time for a career change? Launch it with...
The Occupational Adventure Guide:
A Travel Guide to the Career of Your Dreams
by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst