How long has it been since you connected with your dreams? Dreams of what you’d like your life to look like and how you want to spend your heartbeats. Dreaming is something that comes easy when we’re young. We’re encouraged to dream about doing and being anything we want. Then life happens and can harden us. Fast forward a few decades to midlife and it’s easy to give up on dreaming.
We might’ve already ticked off some big goals: a good job; a nice house; raised a family; some great holidays. We might wonder – what’s next? It’s all too easy to settle, but if you create a habit of dreaming with purpose and intention your midlife can be full of adventure, meaning and a renewed joy for life.
We don’t give ourselves permission to dream
It’s important to understand WHY we don’t give ourselves permission to dream and why we’ve lost the habit of dreaming.
We’re scared of what people will think
We might believe it’s selfish
We’re afraid of failing
We think we’re too old to do things differently
There’s another big stumbling block I’ve been thinking about lately; the negative framing of the word ‘dreaming’.
“It’s just a pipe dream”
No wonder cynics see dreaming as an idealised concept not based on reality!
I prefer to flip the word ‘dreaming’ to be a positive, realistic and powerful practice.
Why we should dream
Dreaming ignites passion and purpose. By giving yourself permission to dream you’ll get to the bottom of a whole lot of things: what’s important to you; what drives you and what environments you thrive in. It’ll become clear what makes you happy and how you want to spend your time. You’ll learn more about who you are and the direction you want your life to take.
Dreaming is a great way to focus on where we are right now and what we want the future to look like. It doesn’t matter about the past – dreaming is all about the future. It’s a great way to bring positivity to your life.
Dreaming is fun and it taps into your imagination and creativity. It’s great for your brain health!
I know this is blindingly obvious but we can’t hear it often enough:
We have one life to live and it passes by so quickly.
We might fail or quit or change our mind about a dream, but so what? Don’t die wondering.
What’s the difference between a dream and a goal?
I like to think of dreams and goals as part of the same process. Identifying your dreams helps you to uncover your true essence, what your values are and what you want to spend your time and energy on.
By creating a habit of dreaming you’ll find that some dreams keep demanding your attention. You might choose to turn those dreams into goals and set about taking action.
So, dreams are really the seeds from which goals grow.
How to get in the habit of dreaming
Make dreaming an activity you do regularly. Write down your dreams, start a list, make voice recordings, say your dreams out loud or make a vision board. Whatever method works for you to bring life to your dreams.
I love this simple but powerful question that Kristina Karlsson in her book Your Dream Life Starts Here asks:
“What would you do if you had all the money, all the time and you couldn’t possibly fail”.
So, what would you do?
Don’t censor yourself. Open your mind to as many dreams as you can, big and small, no matter how ridiculous they might seem. Remember, you can’t fail. Your dreams might be about what you’d like to do, where you’d like to go, who you’d like to help, what kind of world you want to live in and what habits you’d like to acquire or change.
Here’s a few examples, and yes some of them are dreams on my list!
Learn to swim
Be financially secure enough to work part-time
Participate in a medical research trial
Go camping in Kakadu National Park
Live in a world where more women are in positions of power
Be inspired by dreamers
I love taking inspiration from people who are honouring their dreams.
At 54, Jo Moseley became the first woman to stand up paddleboard across UK’s waterways, raising funds and awareness for environmental organisations.
Jo’s story reminds me of the power of aligning your dreams with your vision for the world. You can read Jo’s inspiring story here.
My friend Annabelle also inspires me to dream big. Annabelle had a dream to do stand-up comedy in New York. In 2019 she travelled to New York and did a course which culminated in doing a routine at a renowned comedy club. Since then Annabelle has performed at a club in Toronto and also at the Melbourne Fringe Festival. I’m in awe of her bravery. Annabelle’s vision is to perform comedy shows to raise funds for not-for-profit animal refuges.
Jo and Annabelle are women who are honouring what gives their life meaning. They’ve given themselves permission to dream big AND they’ve taken action to fulfill their dreams.
Think about the people you know who inspire you to dream. Let their stories inspire you to live your dream.
I’m living my dream
I love the saying that sometimes taking action towards a dream is really uncomfortable, but NOT taking action is even more uncomfortable.
This one powerful thought inspired me to finally start my blog. I’d parked this dream for years telling myself it wouldn’t be good enough, worried about what people would think. The day I heard this saying was the day I promised myself to take action on my dream.
My blog isn’t perfect and it won’t change the world but I’m living MY dream. That makes me so happy.
A word about expectations
Society (and sometimes our families and friends) has written a script for midlife women. Going off-script can be challenging. Dreaming big doesn’t mean disregarding your responsibilities to others, but your dreams mightn’t fit the mold of what others expect of you.
This can be hard to accept, but trust that you’ll find support – sometimes in the most unlikely of places.
Are you ready to start dreaming?
Dreaming is a powerful habit which gives you clarity about the kind of midlife you want.
Find a process that works best for you to identify your dreams and keep refining them.
When you make dreaming a habit, you’re more likely to take action on the dreams that matter. The ones that represent who you are, what you stand for and how you want to live the next half of your precious life.