Do you remember what it was like to dream?
Remember laying on your back on a summer star-lit night, a warm wind caressing your cheeks, studying the sky and listening to the sound of your own heartbeat through the excitement charged darkness? Remember staring up at all those small shimmering stars, wondering how many there were, how many had your name on them?
One of my favorite Disney movies, Pinocchio, has that awesome song, “When You Wish Upon A Star..” remember?
When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you.
I’ve done a fair bit of wishing in my time. Wishing, dreaming, praying… Growing up, my parents would tell me I could be whatever I wanted to be, do whatever I wanted to do…anything you set your mind to… It’s a wonderful concept.
At some point, I stopped believing.
Let me explain.
While I still believe I can do some things, I know I can’t do all things. I know I’m not supposed to. It’s not my journey.
Dreams are wonderful, magical, and awe-inspiring. Not all dreams come true. And dreams carry with them the unfortunate reputation of being larger than life, surreal and never quite ‘all there’ if you will. Have you ever had what you thought was ‘a dream come true’, something you wanted very badly but never thought you’d get, and then you did. And it wasn’t quite what you expected.
It’s like being a kid on Christmas morning. You wait and wait and wait and then…oh, yes, morning comes and you scramble out of bed and yell as loud as you can to wake everyone up, run down to the tree and your eyes pop wide at the stacks of shiny colorfully wrapped presents…and you got everything you asked for…and then, you sit back at the end of the unwrapping frenzy, and a strange feeling settles. Like being a bit too full after a good meal. Something isn’t quite right, but you don’t know what. There’s still a certain restlessness in the room…
Santa came through. But you knew he would. The risk of disappointment on Christmas morning was marginal. So, you brush the feeling aside, toddle off with your toys and in a couple of days you’re making next year’s list because you’re already bored with the stuff you’ve just been given.
Dreams are not goals.
I used to dream about becoming a published author. I decided I loved to write, I was pretty good at it or so I was being told, and I allowed myself to dream about what it might be like to someday see my words in print. (And go on Oprah). Somewhere along the way, that dream became a goal. (Not the going on Oprah bit).
You dream with your eyes closed. You can’t see the moon if you’re not looking at it.
While I loved dreaming about success and the millions of dollars I would earn, the minions at my beck and call and my name on the NYT best-seller list, I wasn’t entirely stupid. I might still dream about some of those things, (kidding) but they are not my goals. I don’t wake up each day and flex my fingers with the thought, “Right, today is the day I will write the book that will be become a best seller…” Maybe I should, but I don’t. That is a good dream, a fun dream, but it’s not my goal.
My goal is to write words that are pleasing and acceptable to the One who has given them to me.
That’s it. It’s that simple.
But I don’t sit back and say, “Ok, God, here ya go.” No, I hone, polish, read, re-write and start all over again a dozen times a day. I do the work. Whatever happens after that, whether that book succeeds or fails will not be because I did a half-ass job. I don’t do half-ass.
This is work, people.
Once I set my goal of becoming published, I knew I had to meet a certain criteria. I needed to do a lot of work, reading, studying the craft, taking online lessons, going to conferences. I have not yet ticked that box and I pray I never will. There is always room for improvement when it comes to writing. I needed an agent. That was a given for me, so I set that goal and achieved it. I was no longer alone in the journey. And then one day, after a very long wait, mind you, I held my first book in my hands. Yes, I say it was a dream come true, and it was. But it was also I goal I’d set for myself, and accomplished.
Dreams and wishes are granted. Goals are earned and achieved.
The cool thing about dreams is that they’re always there. Always floating around someplace, maybe a little to the left of the moon. I think dreams are necessary and worth holding onto, worth shooting for. But make a plan to get there. And don’t be surprised if, when your dream comes true, it’s not exactly everything you wanted.
Sometimes it’s more. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes reality falls somewhere in between what we hoped for. Sometimes when dreams fall short of our expectations, they spur us on to greater things.
And that, my friends, can only be a good thing.
Are you shooting for the moon today? Or are you happy to land somewhere in the vicinity?