I have been thinking a lot about dreams. You know the ones I mean. The ones that drove us to achieve something. Remember? For example, “my dream is to play professional football” or “my dream is to be a famous architect” or “my dream is to be as famous as Tom Cruise.”
Now if you are anything like me, you probably had many of these, more than likely in your teenage years. In some ways, our dreams were the answer to the awkwardness of being a teenager. My dream was to be taller, fitter, stronger and mega-rich.
As naive as some of our dreams were, they transitioned us away from the more childish “what do I want to be when I grow up.” Being able to express our dreams moved us to a place more cemented in reality. When we spoke about our dreams, there were real actions we could take to achieve it (except for getting “taller” – that did not work for me).
But at some stage, I stopped talking about dreams. We all seemed to have stopped. As we got older, we started talking about “goals” and “objectives”, maybe “aspirations”. No longer “dreams”. Dreams sounded too much like a fantasy.
Is it just semantics or is there a real difference between these words? What do they say? Goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound). Everything dreams are not. Most of our dreams are probably not SMART at all. Dreams tend to be bigger, daring, elusive and in some ways, unreachable.
Dreams lay the foundations to goals. After all, when we set a goal, this is probably in pursuit of our dream. And if it is not and there is no linkage to it whatsoever, we should wonder, what is it for?
Yet we shy away from using the word “dreams”. It still sounds like a fantasy, not steeped in reality. And that is precisely the point. Dreams should not be steeped in reality, they need to be based on possibility. Dreams should challenge us, excite us, drive us, humour us. They fuel our imagination with the possibilities out there. The possibilities we can only think of when our dreams may be unreachable. The possibilities that arise when we have to imagine.
Dreams need to remain part of my vocabulary, part of my repertoire. I am not too old to dream. You are not too old to dream. Because if we ever want to make this world a better place, we need to dream. We need to think bigger, be more daring, search for the elusive and not be afraid of what may appear as unreachable.
What are you dreaming about?
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