Pursuing Dreams

A dream is an ideal, aspiration or ambition that is dear to our heart. Our dreams are an expression of our true self, as unique as our fingerprints. They are reflections of our passion, talents, hopes and values and the particular purpose we are here to fulfill.

Dreams come in all shapes and sizes: taking a special holiday; finding a job; buying a home; bringing about social change on a particular issue; becoming an adult student; creating a healthy lifestyle; going into business; being able to speak effectively to a group; leaving a destructive relationship; achieving at sports.... the list is endless.

The achieving of dreams is not just for ‘other people’ - the intelligent, talented, privileged or successful - it’s for everyone. Pursuing our dreams gives our lives meaning and direction. We all need the sense of personal power we gain when we are moving ahead in our lives and the feeling of inner contentment that comes from having a life that is lived fully. Yet it can be a challenge to decide to follow our dreams.

It requires courage to step away from an unsatisfactory job or relationship, to venture into unknown territory or to persevere when the going gets tough. When we do the rewards are truly worth it. We are capable of achieving well if we give ourselves the chance.

Most of us have dreams we would love to achieve, yet how many of us expect to realise them? Rather than believing in our ability to achieve and perhaps even excel in the area that interests us, we sell ourselves short by opting for the security and safety of our familiar routine.

Too often we dismiss our dreams as impossible before even beginning to explore them. We make the mistake of focusing on the potential difficulties, rather than considering the possibilities. Dreams get put in the ‘too hard’ pile - forgotten, abandoned or written off as ‘unrealistic’. Often the dreams we deny ourselves continue to niggle away at us in the years to come, bringing a sense of disappointment, frustration and regret. Eventually we may look back and sigh, ‘If only...’

It can be difficult to contemplate our dreams if we are focused on day-to-day survival, but this is often the very time we need to have aspirations we are working toward. There are always choices we can make to improve our lives, even on a very small scale. An unhappy life, without a dream for change, becomes a life without hope.

Our dreams can set us free from the most mundane and despairing of circumstance, provided we are willing to commit to them and take action. Over time small steps can lead to significant changes and sometimes inspiring achievements.

People who accomplish extraordinary things are ordinary people who have taken an area of interest and worked on it until they have achieved excellence. Just as successful people have chosen to take that path we too can decide to put our energy and commitment into pursuing the things that hold special interest for us.

Nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without effort. Undoubtedly it takes commitment, careful planning, hard work and perseverance to achieve our goals. However the effort required is not the drudgery of halfheartedly tackling a task we dislike. It is the inspired energy that comes from engaging in something we feel passionate about.

Passion is the driving force that provides the necessary impetus to pursue our dreams. There is a special power that comes when we follow our heart and do what we love. Our real talents lie where our passion is. Surprising and exciting opportunities often present themselves when we allow our passion to guide our choices.

One of the biggest challenges people face is when they don’t feel passionate or excited about the possibilities for their future. Fortunately passion can be discovered or rekindled and the questions in ‘Personal Reflections’ are designed to help you clarify where your passion lies.

If an idea or dream lingers and seems to make sense to us at a deep level we need to take that dream seriously, even if other people are unable to share our vision at that time. Many people have followed dreams that they found compelling, which on the surface seemed impossible and have eventually succeeded.

These people believe in what they are trying to achieve and are prepared to keep striving until they reach their goal. Their commitment to their goals is so strong that as they focus on achieving them they are able to call on new reserves of energy and determination that they hardly know they have.

It is possible for us all to find hidden reserves of energy and inspiration when we are engaged in a task that captures our imagination and ignites our passion. If we can take a chance, follow our heart’s calling we are likely to discover we will not only cope and survive, but we will thrive.

Achieving dreams is not about being reckless. It’s about making the most of every day, breaking out of routine, taking calculated risks and daring ourselves to go beyond where we have been before. When we believe in ourselves, commit wholeheartedly to something that truly interests us, maintain our focus and give 100% we can create a fulfilling outcome.

© Copyright Kay Douglas. Kay Douglas is a registered psychotherapist, counsellor and life coach. She is also the author of four self-help books: Invisible Wounds, Challenged by Childhood, Living Life Out Loud and Power Games (co-authored with Dr Kim McGregor). She is in private practice in Auckland, New Zealand. For more information please visit www.kaydouglas.co.nz

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