Are You Following Your Dreams?

PERSONAL GROWTH

Are You Following Your Dreams?

If not, do you know what is stopping you? Who is the voice in your head that talks you out of going after what you really want for yourself and achieving your potential?

- by Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard

This is top of mind for me as both friends and clients alike struggle to, not only follow their dreams, but feel safe to put them out there. Last week, two friends bailed on their dreams – one because of pressure from peers to start making more money, the other because she cannot see how to be a mother and pursue her career ambition. When helping a client to define her desired future state for her career, every time she said what she wanted, it was quickly followed with a ‘but that’s not possible, that doesn’t exist’.

Where do we learn to limit our dreams?

Yesterday, my 10 year old daughter’s teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, what she envisioned for her life when she was older in terms of her career, her home, her hobbies – in essence he asked her about her dreams. My daughter has a very clear vision of what she wants and it has not changed from the time she was 2 when she asked how she could get into the TV like kids that were on the shows she was watching.

Her teacher responded by telling her that it was unrealistic and that very, very few people who want to become stars ever do. He went on to tell her she would have to be a waitress and learn to live modestly because she was unlikely to achieve her ambition. When questioned by me, he said that he was hoping to ‘inspire them to start humbly’. Imagine my daughter’s confusion – that to be a star, she must first be a waitress and so needs to focus her plan on that goal instead. Imagine my confusion that dreaming requires us to be humble; there is an oxymoron in there somewhere.

Why do we bail on ourselves?

It doesn’t surprise me, but it saddens me to see how we bail on ourselves and achieving our potential. Too often, people reject the dreams of others, dismissing them as being impractical and so we start to do the same towards our own dreams. When I decided to change my business focus, my husband told me I would never make any money at it and so shouldn’t pursue it. My dreams scared him, despite my track record of building a successful business. I chose not to let him get in my way but it cost me my marriage.

To envision our future, we must engage the upper right rational quadrant of our brain. This part of the brain is only concerned with what we see as possible, what we intuitively know about our potential. However, most of us have learned to filter these ideas against the emotional/experiential parts of our brain, which shifts the focus onto what is realistic and what keeps me in my comfort zone so I don’t trigger any fear.

How to become dream chasers again?

Acknowledging and articulating our dreams – to ourselves as well as others – is frightening. When we take that risk, only to get met by negativity, fear wins and we pursue other paths instead of our dreams. We become self-protective and use emotional reasoning to aim lower, tell ourselves it doesn’t matter or that we likely would have failed. We talk ourselves out of achieving our potential because we don’t know who we are meant to be and let the external world – and the people in it – define it for us.

Each of us is hard wired with all the talents and abilities we need to achieve our potential. Understanding our brain organization and the needs, as well as fears, that drive our behaviour, allows us to chart a course to realizing our dreams. We stop doubting what we envision for ourselves and instead focus on what it will take to get there. Maybe my daughter will not be a movie star, but given her innate talents and abilities, we both know that she will be a star on some stage if she continues to pursue her dreams and believe in her potential. It’s my job – and her teacher’s – to help her to create and execute the plan to get there, not tell her to stop dreaming.

Want to learn how to chase your dreams again? Learn how to shift from self-protective behaviors and leverage your whole brain to become who you are meant to be.

 

 

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