By definition, a dream is described as:
a series of thoughts, visions, or feelings that happen during sleep an idea or vision that is created in your imagination and that is not real something that you have wanted very much to do, be, or have for a long time
Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary
More often than not, each new day in our modern lives comes with an overwhelming number of responsibilities and duties that have to get done: work, school assignments, childcare, cooking, cleaning, doctor appointments... the list goes on and on!
Unfortunately, our contemporary fixation on being busy leaves very little room for dreaming. Whether we aspire to find a better job, meet the love of our life, be the first in our family to pursue a post-secondary education, or even to open our own business as a holistic entrepreneur, the reasons we all desire success are as numerous as the stars in the sky.
Many times, however, the stark reality of our current lives keeps us fixated on our fears, causing us to avoid our futures and to stop dreaming. Dreaming requires the intentional devotation of time to a vision of a better life and self; it is, in itself, part of the process of change.
"Our present thoughts determine our future.”
So what does it take to start dreaming again? How do we move from being a dreamer to being a doer? What are the attributes which are common in people who achieve their dreams?
Lou Tice, one of my favorite thought leaders, shared the following wisdom in Thought Patterns For A Successful Career: “We move toward, and become like, that which we think about. Our present thoughts determine our future.” In order to achieve our dreams and move from dreamers to doers, we must simply begin dreaming and purposefully focus on what we will become. What we say to ourselves about who we are, what we can do, what we will do, and how we will accomplish our dreams is just as important as the dreams themselves!
Let’s dig deep into the attributes of being a dreamer through the acronym of D-R-E-A-M:
D - Dare to Dream
Each of us has a vision for a better life when we allow ourselves to dream. Anything worth having in life is worth working for, and nothing comes to us for free. What is your dream? Each of us has different reasons for pursuing our education, and regardless of the reasons, we must first dare to dream. This means that we must summon the inner courage to do the inner work.
R - Responsibility of The Dream
The responsibility of our dream is a career compass. It guides, coaches, and spurs us to succeed. Life is a compilation of relationships, and these relationships allow us to weave the influences and insights of others into our dream. Ultimately, life is not a dress rehearsal, and we have the choice each day to focus on stepping toward our dream in pursuit of our best version of ourselves.
E - Enjoy the Journey
Education can be one of the main highlights in life. It allows the learner to embrace differing views and subjects which can be added to the toolbox of life. Education allows for relationships to be built in the classroom with our fellow future graduates and faculty. With the advent of online learning, the world is our classroom, complete with learners from around the world participating in every time zone. The world is quickly becoming a smaller place because of the educational threads which weave us together in our career tapestry.
A - Appreciate the Opportunity
Life is to be enjoyed together in community. Said another way, we don’t “do life” alone. A thankful heart of appreciation and the attitude of gratitude for those who assist us on our career journeys as part of our home team are critically important. These are people who see our potential. They will encourage us when we need a little extra support to keep focusing on the journey. The list of those who are in our community could be co-workers, teachers, friends, parents, children, significant others, and most importantly yourself. As we learned from Lou Tice, the way we speak to ourselves and what we say sets the stage.
M - Make It Happen
The tenacity required to succeed and make our dreams come true can be quite demanding. A great predictor of the ability to make dreams become a reality is the replacement we set for ourselves. As humans, when we can see what success looks like to us, it is easier to absorb it. Writing each goal with a corresponding replacement picture is an incredible way to incorporate our senses while realizing our dreams.
"It was only when I wrote down every goal I would like to complete on my bucket list that I fully embraced that time is finite."
Let me share an example from my life to bring this concept to life: When I was 37 years old, I decided to pursue my bachelor’s degree in business. I had three teenage children and was working full time, averaging 60 hours per week. On paper, the amount of time that I would have to dedicate in order to complete my degree was challenging. When was I going to study? How would I take care of my family?
It was only when I wrote down every goal I wanted to complete on my bucket list that I fully embraced that time is finite. I had to begin moving forward to achieve my dreams in order for them to be a reality, and I realized that education was the key to doing that.
There are two aspects that make an education so valuable. First, an education is "recession-proof." Regardless of what happens in the economy, your credentials are something that stand the test of time. Second, an education is yours to have for the rest of your life. It is the validation of your path to completion. Unlike a sleek new vehicle, that fancy pair of shoes you've been eying in the department store window, or a prime rib at your favorite restaurant, your education will always be a part of you, and it can never be taken away from you.
Ultimately, I was able to transform my career through the power of education, and so can you. I dare you to DREAM BIG! Dream and envision the best version of you. I promise it will be worth the investment!
Serving as Chief Executive Director for SWIHA
With extensive academic and operations leadership experience, Mary Ritter has proven professional accomplishments directly impacting the strategic business goals for several post-secondary colleges over the last 20 years. She is a results-oriented leader, with an expertise in people development, strategic planning and organizational transformation. Mary has served at all levels within Fortune 500 companies using a ‘servant-leadership’ model** and dreaming big!
** A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader empowers people; the needs of others are put first and the servant-leader helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.