Big dreams come naturally to us when we’re young. We think anything is possible in our lives, especially if we haven’t gotten around to trying those things yet.
Then come the inevitable disappointments and setbacks that we all face as we try new things and strike out on our own. Dreaming can get harder as we get more experienced and our responsibilities start to get heavier.
Although kids are usually the ones who get encouraged to dream big with classroom posters and enthusiastic guidance counselors, I think it’s the adults who really need that encouragement to dream.
Adults are the ones who need to re-learn the practice of dreaming, or give ourselves permission to dream again. And we’re often the ones who may need to consciously unlearn some of the “lessons” we’ve picked up over the years about what we can’t do, or about what’s not practical, or about what’s impossible.
The fact is that dreaming, or imagining where we’d like to be in our lives, isn’t some silly habit to be avoided in favor of more practical applications.
It has power in and of itself, regardless of whether you ever decide to take steps toward making those dreams a reality.
Here’s more about what I mean.
The Power of Setting “Realistic” Aside
Being practical and realistic definitely has its place, especially when you’re running a business.
I’m all about the nuts and bolts of actually planning to make things happen. That requires measuring progress, getting specific, using calendars, etc. (For more on my goal-setting progress, check out my post on Planning for the Upcoming Year.)
But those tools are not necessary at the beginning of any goal setting process. In fact, they get in the way.
When you’re wondering what you really want out of life, you have to start — however briefly — by tossing all expectations of what’s realistic out the window.
That’s not always easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult when you’re going through tough times. If you’ve been feeling burned out, disappointed, or hurt, the idea of boundless dreaming might not seem very appealing right now.
Dreaming takes a little bit of vulnerability. It takes a willingness to go back and remember a little bit about what it felt like when we truly thought anything was possible.
But it’s worth it. Dreaming keeps us questioning the direction we’re headed in, and what we really want out of our lives and businesses.
If we don’t keep our dreams close, how will we stay in touch with the bigger purpose in our lives? How will we stay on fire, passionate, and visionary — all of which are things that interior design solopreneurs, in particular, need for success?
How to Dream Boundlessly
It might seem ridiculous for me to give you pointers on how to dream, but I do think that certain tactics make it more effective.
First of all, get ready to have fun. Loosen up. You’re not committing to anything yet. This should be a playful brainstorming process, not an internal executive meeting.
It may help to remove yourself a bit from your normal routine or at least go somewhere you’re feeling relaxed. Try a change of scenery to get your imagination going.
Finally, really put yourself in the shoes of your future self. Try to think about what it would actually feel to do or be the things you’re dreaming about.
What would you do on a typical day or week? How would those activities make you feel if you did them today? What are you wearing in your dream? How do you get from one place to another? What kind of physical environment are you in?
Imagery and emotion can help bring your dream into focus.
Once you’ve visualized some potential futures for yourself, you can start to drill down to why you like each one. Realizing why you’re aspiring to something in particular can give you clues about what motivates you, and perhaps about other ways you may be able to get what you want.
Once you have a clearer idea of what you would dream if your dream was boundless, you can focus back in on your life now.
What are you tolerating TODAY that’s getting in the way of those dreams? How would circumstances have to change in order for you to get closer to them?
Don’t worry, you don’t have to change right away. Maybe the “obstacle” to one dream is fulfilling another dream in some way. For example, if your dream is to be a rock star and tour the country, that might conflict with your dream of being a very hands-on parent while your kids are little. (For more on goal setting during parenting, check out my post “Why I Never Use the Term Work-Life Balance.”)
But in other cases, you may find other ways to view the obstacles to your dreams.
Maybe when you’re really honest with yourself, it will be clear that some of the things that are holding you back are fear of failure or rejection. Those fears often come from less-than-helpful places mentally.
It’s also possible that there are ways around some of the obstacles you assumed were immovable.
Remember, you don’t have to make any bold moves right away. But you can focus on taking small steps toward eliminating those barriers.
Keeping the Long Game in Mind
By the way, Your “crazy” dreams might not be as crazy as you think. Click To Tweet Will you be able to achieve them tomorrow, next week or even by the end of the year? Maybe not.
But consider this quote, attributed to Bill Gates: “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years.”
Ten years can be hard to wrap your head around. So much can change in that time. But, what if you were to stay on course for the next year? Your dream might start looking a lot more achievable in that context.
Most of us don’t want to wait that long to get what we want, which is why we stick to “dreaming” — or more accurately, goal setting — for the next year or two.
But, don’t forget, if you consistently head in a certain direction, you just might achieve something that seemed completely unrealistic at the beginning. That’s why you have to set that course now — and you can only do it right if you dream as if your dream was boundless.
As always, if you want to talk more about this topic, or about goal setting for interior designers, please contact me. I coach interior designers both individually and in mastermind groups. I’m always looking to work with new passionate and driven interior designers who want to make their big dreams a reality.