“Dream it, and then you can be it!”
I’m calling bullshit.
You know those sun-soaked, flaxen-haired, boho-chic girls in Instagram memes, the ones who blow dandelion petals into the air as they stare longingly, and yet purposefully, into the distance?
This is precisely the kind of advice they give. And it’s terrible.
Don’t believe me? Then ask yourself, “Why would I ever take advice from a girl in a flower crown?”
And yet this insidiously optimistic promulgation of dream-manifestation culture persists.
I dreamed once that I was the Queen of England. And, still, no one feeds me tea and crumpets every day at 3 pm.
I’ve done some hard things in my life, things that I never thought were possible. I didn’t do them because I imagined I could or even start them because I imagined I could. I did them because I started on the path that interested me, and along the path, I gained confidence that I had some promise, some grit, some tenacity.
And that promise, grit, and tenacity turned into an insatiable hunger that had to be fed. I ran the first mile of my life when I was on the precipice of 40 years old — seriously, I had 596,394 excuses to get out of PE as a kid but nothing stops the freight train of the midlife crisis. It took me nearly three months to get to a point where I could run the entire mile (slowly at that) without stopping. But as soon as I did, that little Fred Flintstone Gizmo devil popped onto my shoulder and whispered, “You should run a 5K.”
So I did. Slowly.
But as soon as I did that, The Great Gizmo popped back up and whispered, “Hey what about a 10K?”
One thing led to another and I ran three marathons.
Now, did I dream that I could run a marathon? Pfft. I get tired even driving a marathon.
If you asked me after that first mile to name a BHAG (a big hairy audacious goal), I never would have said: “I’d love to run a marathon.” I could only dream as far as I could imagine. My imagination was limited my where I currently stood. I ran a mile, so I dreamed of being able to run three. That was as far as I could see. That was the top of the mountain from my seat at the bottom.
Here’s the thing about climbing mountains, when you get to the top, you realize that the view is entirely different than imagined. There are other mountains that you couldn’t see before, bigger mountains, mountains you wish to climb.
If you limit your dreams to your current view, you’ll never dream big enough.
Shut up, show up, and do the work. And the work will build your confidence, which will fuel your dreams.
Don’t dream it so you can do it. Do it so you can dream it.