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It has become a cliche to say, ‘make a wish’, or ‘make your dreams come true’. Most of the time the ‘dreams’ we are referring to are constructed by society around us; the media, the generation before us, people who want you and me to meet their expectations. They are shared dreams - like getting married, having children or having lots of money.
I am a big sucker for these dreams. Not only do I want them, but I also use them as the measure to beat myself up when things are not going well. For instance I torment myself that I have never been married so my children have been raised as part of a single parent family. During low moments, this can provide me with hours of material for why everything is wrong. But if I stop and think, does this actually mean I have not been living my dream?
Earlier this year I applied for a job which I did not get. I was devastated at the time: before the interview I had been uncertain about whether I wanted the post, but when I didn’t get it I was equally distraught. But why? What was it I really wanted? Potentially nothing was going to make me happy!
How can I actually be sure the ambitions I desire are ones that I really want and will make me happy?
So this is my first strategy for life planning that I will share with you - this is figuring out what it is you really want.
CREATE YOUR DREAM SEQUENCE
You can do this in your head, but if you record it, you can refer back to it. If you are anything like me it is precisely when I need to remember these things that I cannot keep them close to me.
So I would suggest that you start with a blank sheet of paper.
Then, sitting quietly, recall what made you happiest as a child - what did you imagine you would be as an adult? Record this down. For me this has always been writing and working with animals - what would yours be?
Next, think about the moments when you have been the most happy and content. Perhaps you get this in peaceful moments with friends or family. Or in moments of satisfaction when you have achieved something. Write these down as well. For me these are moments at the coast, with animals, friends or family, in the sun with a good book.
Now think about your ultimate lifestyle. You are probably likely to pick something which relies on lots of money and free time; but you should be interested in the type of lifestyle you have chosen. Do you see yourself in the countryside, or somewhere hot? Or perhaps you would like to fulfill a dream of living in a major city. For me, I would always have to be in or near the countryside, with regular access to sunshine.
Now read it through and think about what this tells you about you. Is there a big difference between what you see on the page and the life you live? Do you need to make changes that link the Now You with the Original You on the page? By linking the responses to all of these together you should be able to build a picture of what it is you really want. This should make up the fundamental elements of your dream which you are really aiming for. Any time you are feeling dissatisfied with your ambitions, reflect against your dream sequence and see if there is a gulf between where you are headed and where you want to be. This may be why it is not working out!
By doing exactly this I realised my devastation had come because I was chasing a dream which wasn’t mine - with or without the job I had applied for I wasn’t winning. I needed a change in direction; this summer has forced that to happen. I am now in the process of ensuring I don’t just slip back to a safe and secure place where I am unhappy. Let’s face it, security is desirable in itself, particularly during tough times. But something which is easily secure doesn’t always afford happiness.
I keep my dream board in my journal. I check it every day - this way no matter what is happening, how I feel or how busy I am, I have grounded myself with my aims and desires at least once.
When I am trying to achieve something that I know makes me feel fulfilled, satisfied and happy I feel contentment in each day; even if for a short time, I have touched base with the me I am inside and who I want to become. This is important - especially right now when my life it tough. It keeps me working at resolving the things I don’t like and heading on the path I really want.
Despite my blog focussing on the crazy moments, blogging itself is part of my journey to achieve my dream. It is not enough to wish upon a star - you have to reach for it and climb up to it. This is only possible if you know the direction and the destination you are aiming for.
Keep your dream sequence close to you. Add to it and amend it as you learn about yourself more. Dreams rarely stay exactly the same as you should be growing and evolving all the time. This should help guide you to make choices for you and your future that will make your very own dream come true.