I read The Alchemist when I was in my late teens and this quote has echoed in my mind ever since.
I’ve always been a dreamer. I love imagining different realities, different worlds. When I was little, I imagined myself as a character in Peter Pan because I dreamed of being able to fly. Then I wrote myself into my favorite book series, The Boxcar Children and Trixie Belden, as an extra character. Her (my) name was Anne. She was the fifth Boxcar sibling, had dark hair with a glint of auburn, green eyes, was an accomplished gymnast, and radiated a sense of confidence and mystery, and I merged the two worlds of these book series into one dream reality in which all the characters were friends. These daydreams seeped into my actual dreams and left me with a visceral and poignant ache that I can still feel. I don’t know how to describe it. My daydreams are still with me even though I’ve grown up and accepted reality, and they still connect me like a bridge of light to the little girl who was so secure in her sense of creativity and identity.
I love dwelling in the open and vast space of possibility. It’s like a golden bubble of potential. It’s not connected to reality, so it isn’t touched by the dark cloud of disappointment, fear, or doubt. It’s immune and separate from the negative stories we tell ourselves about how we aren’t worthy enough to have something good happen to us.
The anticipation before a big trip or event. The giddy rush of having a new crush.
I usually get a bigger high from looking forward to events or things even more than the actual experience of the thing itself. Once it's actually happening, all I can think about is that it's going to be over and left as a fragment in my memory. Possibility exists for me independent of actual outcomes, because the outcome itself doesn’t matter. It’s the thrill of the “what if?”
What I’m realizing though, is that there is a big difference between the possibilities you keep to yourself inside your imagination, and the possibilities you are brave enough to bring into reality.
When you write down a dream, goal, intention, you’re making a statement to the universe and setting yourself up for potential outcomes, either good or bad. This is when things start to get messy, but I also believe that acknowledging your desires is the crux of actually being able to design a purpose-driven life that makes you fulfilled and content.
As I’ve gotten older, it’s harder and harder for me to embrace that golden bubble of untapped possibility because I let the fear, doubt, insecurities take hold. I start to limit my dreams based on what I’ve experienced in life so far. I’ve become cautious and skeptical of joy, and if I’m extra happy I’m always paranoid of having the other shoe drop because what goes up must come down, right?
Earlier this week I was talking with one of my new coaches, Melissa, about how it’s so hard to set ambitious goals or even allow yourself to dream about reaching a certain point, if you’ve never been there before because all the doubt and negative voices set in.
When you really want to lose 30 pounds but you’ve never BEEN at that lower weight before in your entire adult life, it’s so hard to be able to believe that you can do it, because why should this time be different? There will be so many obstacles in your way. Temptation, self doubt, social events, friends and family who don’t get it. The biggest obstacle is YOU.
“I always quit, so this time will be the same.”
“My friends and family will judge me and make fun of me.”
“It’s stupid and unrealistic.”
“I’m not good enough.”
“I don’t deserve it.”
"I'm different...it won't work for me."
When you actually make it to the other side, the negative voices seem silly, but when you’re still at Point A and all you can see is the long and endless and uncertain distance that’s separating you from where you want to go, it’s almost impossible NOT to be intimidated and paralyzed by self doubt and overwhelm. And this is why so many people never realize their dreams, or even allow themselves to acknowledge what they really want. So many women never lose the weight, they stay trapped in the yo-yo cycle of diet/binging and self sabotage. So many of us stay trapped in joy sucking jobs because they are safe, even if we feel deep down a pull of jealousy when we see someone making it and living their dreams.
Well, I’m starting to call bullshit on this bad habit of squashing dreams and possibilities. After a full year of obsessive personal development reading (The Gifts of Imperfection, Start, The Desire Map, and The Slight Edge have been the most impactful books), and after surrounding myself with dozens of women who GET IT and are going through the same quarter life crisis moments, I’m finally realizing that I’m not alone in my insecurities.
I’ve been doing Jess Lively’s Life With Intention Online e-course for the past few weeks and it is CHANGING EVERYTHING. I’m finally learning how to separate my sense of worth from outcomes, how to be content and fulfilled by living in the present moment, and I’m letting my core values drive my actions and goals. A huge takeaway is that we can’t hold ourselves accountable to outcomes in our lives because we CAN’T CONTROL outcomes. All we can control is the actions we take, that align with our values, and trust they will lead us towards the desired outcome. I’ve finally started to release the self imposed pressure and perfectionism I’ve been living under, and I’m starting to come back to that daydreaming, creative, happy, and possibility loving person I used to be when I was a child.
It’s easy to either let self doubt cloud your bubble of possibility….or to let the safety and security of possibility and dreaming hold you back from taking action because you’re afraid of change. There have been so many times when I’m actually AFRAID of writing down a big scary dream in my journal and acknowledging it TO MYSELF because I am terrified to bring a possibility into reality. I’m terrified of the possibility of FAILURE, and even more terrified of SUCCESS. I’m terrified of putting self-imposed pressure on myself to succeed, because that would mean stretching my comfort zone and acknowledging that where I’m at right now isn’t actually my full potential.
Change is hard to accept, and we’re biologically wired to instinctively resist it because change threatens the status quo, and the status quo is our reality. We think we know who we are right now, We're comfortable in reality because it’s what we know as true and “safe.” But what if your reality isn’t fulfilling you? You have to be strong enough to believe that you can make change.
You have to accept that the risk of change, of embracing possibility and going for it, is NOT greater than the risk of standing still.
Are you trapped in possibility? Do you still daydream, or have you stopped because it’s “not realistic” or you’ve convinced yourself it’s a waste of time?
Giving up on our daydreams, on the sheer exhilaration of possibility, is heartbreaking. Freaking heartbreaking. Let’s not do that anymore, ok? Nothing is impossible if you are determined and willing to do whatever it takes to believe in yourself. And if you don’t think that anyone out there believes you’re worth it or capable...let that person be me. I believe in you.
I believe your dreams are beautiful and amazing, and I believe you’re good enough to figure out how to make them happen.
Let’s embrace life with a sense of adventure and curiosity, and promise to be kind and forgiving of ourselves when we have moments of doubt or disappointment. Let’s stop getting caught up on the dream itself, stop measuring our success by outcomes we can’t control, or letting the fear of the unknown control our lives. Let’s focus on the POSSIBILITY, the excitement, the magical and infinite potential of the universe. We are all connected to something much greater than ourselves, so let’s be courageous, adventurous, and inspired by life.
Let’s promise to declare our dreams with courage, if only to ourselves, and then start taking action on making them reality.
What’s holding you back?