Dr. Raj … on Creating Your Dreams
Children are so good at daydreaming … but grown-ups? Not so much. Many people tell me they feel stuck in their lives, stuck in their stories, stuck in their responsibilities. Some see no point in having hopes and dreams anymore, while others find themselves without ideas to dream about or energy to make them happen. Lots of them tell me they can’t do anything about this dream or that because they don’t have the money or the time or the know-how or the business contacts. And there’s another frequent theme too, which is the mothers and fathers who are focused on realizing their dreams through their children!
Let’s start with those parental dreams (Hay House listeners, you know I talked about this on today’s show). I’ve never met a parent who doesn’t have hopes and dreams for their child and I hope I never do! Envisioning your baby learning to walk, to read, to play sports … graduating from high school, college, medical school … as an actor or a dancer or a musician is part of the fun; helping your son or daughter grow up, discover talents, learn new skills and to set goals and figure out how to meet them is part of our job as parents. But – this is a big “but!” – the dreams need to belong to your child, not you. I’ve seen many, many adults who go through life feeling like a failure (because they couldn’t meet a parent’s expectations) or feeling like a fake (because they did meet the expectations, but it’s not the life they hild wanted for themselves).
Moving on to our own dreams the first and most important step is to have a dream! You are never too old to learn a new skill or try out a new identity for yourself. You don’t have to change your whole life (maybe you will but that’s a topic for another day) but you can make your life happier and more fulfilling by making small changes that lead you closer to where you want to be – whether learning to dance, writing poetry or losing 35 pounds.
Then you need to start making plans. If you don’t plan correctly, you won’t succeed. It helps to start with a vision, a mental picture of yourself having accomplished your goal. You’ll need this to keep you motivated because the truth is, dreams come true when we take a bunch of small, sometimes boring steps, one after the next after the next.
Setting a goal you care about can help you fight the excuses. If you are working toward accomplishing something that matters to you — like competing in an upcoming road race — you’ll be able to push yourself out the door at times when you just don’t feel like getting out there.
Some tips on setting and achieving goals:
- Be realistic. Don’t decide you’re going to run a marathon in three months if you can’t run two miles.
- Be specific. “I want to be really great at playing the piano” isn’t motivating because it’s too vague and there’s nothing to work toward — “I’m going to be able to play (something) in six weeks” may be within your reach.
- Track your progress. Keep a log or use an app to monitor yourself on your way to achieving your goal.
- Talk it up. Tell friends and family — they’ll give support and praise, plus they’ll hold you accountable.
Even though I am in my 40s and a father, I still have many things I want to accomplish. In fact, I didn’t decide to be a doctor until I was a sophomore in college and in danger of flunking out. After earning my diploma I went on to get a master’s degree and only then began to seriously dream of being a doctor. I started medical school determined to never give up. And now I’m a doctor who has written a book, has a radio show and am working on making other visions a reality as well.
I can’t imagine living my life without dreams – what about you?
Guided Practice: What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?
Imagine that you got a call from your bank. A rich uncle you didn’t know about has died and half of his estate — $50 million — –has dropped into your account. You’re not as rich as Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, but if you’re careful with your investments, you’ve just been liberated from the need to earn a paycheck – ever. Ask yourself the following questions and write the answers in your journal to help identify your higher calling with regard to your work life.
- What is the first thing you would do if this happened? (Besides buying a house in Hawaii and a Porsche.)
- When you were a child imagining a grown-up life, what did you want to be?
- What were you good at doing when you were a child?
- When are your natural talents? What comes easily to you?
- What do you most enjoy doing? What’s the most fun you’ve ever had?
- What do you like to do most when you are on vacation? Do you even take your paid vacation time? Do you stay intoxicated when on vacation?
- Who do you wish you were … and why?
If you find that your dream job is not the path that you are now following, consider starting to look into what it would take to create a job that is in alignment with your dreams. But first, a word of caution: Do not quit your day job, as you’ll need to keep things going while you are working on finding your dream job!