How to Dream Big

Ever know someone whose every dream seems to come true? You know the type: they say that in five years they’ll be doing this-or-that, and sure enough, five years later, they’re doing exactly what they said they’d do, while you’re still trying to figure out what it is that you want.

Those people aren’t luckier or smarter than the average person. They simply have the ability to Dream Big. Dreaming Big involves letting go of what you believe is possible and giving yourself the freedom to believe that you can achieve anything. Once you have a dream (or even several), you have direction in life. Instead of wandering around from job to job with no forward momentum, you’ll find yourself working at something, which is a powerful thing unto itself.

But what if you don’t have a dream? It’s easy to simply think up something to do with your life, but very difficult to find something that fires your passions and that will keep you motivated for long periods of time. When we’re kids, we’re experts at dreaming; we see the world as full of possibilities and act them all out. As we get older, though, we narrow our scope of what is possible, oftentimes forgetting how to dream in the process.

Relearning how to Dream Big takes practice and can be done anytime, anywhere, and any way. However, for many people, Dreaming Big (without the expectations and restrictions we usually put on planning) can seem to be a near-impossible task itself. To help you get started Dreaming Big, try this exercise:

Go somewhere comfortable and away from distractions. This could be in bed or in the shower, on a park bench or at a coffeehouse table. It doesn’t matter where you go, just that you go somewhere you feel safe enough to be able to free your mind and let go.

Spend a few minutes clearing out all the stuff that usually bounces around your brain: money or relationship worries, to-do and grocery lists, songs or TV shows you’ve recently heard or seen. Take some deep breaths and let go of everything. If you like, spend some time meditating.

Once your mind is clear, try to visualize your life in 5, 10, 15, or 30 years (or any length into the future you wish to go). Assume that you are living your perfect life, even if you don’t know what that is. Ignore all the things that you can and should be and open yourself up to what you want to be.

Take your time in this future world and get the details. Walk yourself through a day in your future life, noticing everything from the color of your bedroom walls when you wake up to where you eat dinner. Watch your life like a movie, imagining conversations, events, and other details. The more details you can gather, the more real your dream will seem, and the more energy you will put into trying to achieve it later.

Besides a day in your life, take some time to imagine special events in your future life. Maybe you will eat lunch with your best friend once a month in the future. Imagine one of those lunches, from the salad to the coffee and all the gossip in between. Picture a fundraiser for that nonprofit you dream of starting. Hear the conversations you’ll have, picture what you’ll wear.

After a while in your future world, come back to your present world. Do this slowly, basking in the positive feelings your dreams have given you. Then, pick up a pen and write down what you just dreamed about. You can do this writing in any form; it is just for you. Some people prefer to write in prose, others like to make lists, still others write it out like a screenplay. As long as you record it somewhere, the form doesn’t matter.

Come back to this dream and harvest other dreams on a regular basis, preferably daily. The more you dream, the closer you will get to finding what you want to put your energy into. Keep the writing about your dreams together in a binder or a journal. (I call this a Big Dream journal.)

The more you practice dreaming, the easier it becomes, and the more detailed your dreams will become. Detail is important, because it will help you map out a path to achieving your dreams and will also help you feel that your dreams are real and possible, which is the first step to moving from idly dreaming to reaching your goals.

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