We all do it. Walking down the street, late at night, in the wee hours as we beg for sleep to join us, or in the shower: we have aha! moments. An idea, a path, a plan comes into mind, and we think yes! That would be so great for me. The thought moves throughout our body, until all of you is on board. You begin to think of all positive consequences, the ways that this idea, this thought, this new avenue would change your life. And then: you step out the shower, you fall asleep, you turn a corner and suddenly reality is looking back at you. You can’t just go to Thailand for four weeks: what about your rent? your job? your girlfriend? You can’t quit your menial job and write your novel: what about food? your apartment? the 401k? savings? You can’t try online dating: what about the stigma? the swiping? the judgements? You can’t create the exact life you want, the life you are absolutely committed to having: what about the cost? the consequence? the chance of failure? There is this that and another thing, and you can’t have that dream. There are too many puzzle pieces, too many ways to fail, it’s too hard, too costly, too far in the future, too unrealistic.
The mind, the eternal nay-sayer, yet also the beacon of hope, the process point where dreams are first planted. At one time telling us we can do something, yet also listing all the evidence against this. We have the cheerleaders and the away team sitting in the same bleachers. We have the dreamer creating images, narratives, and endings, and the swift saboteur who sweeps in to take them away. How many of you know your inner saboteur? What does he or she always say? How does he stop you? Scare you? Make you turn back? What are you giving up or letting go of because an inner voice is near to distribute the “cold-hard-facts?” I recently had a friend tell me their ultimate dream. For ten minutes he gushed about a particular literature classroom he wants to create: what it would look like, who would be involved, the local and global benefits that would follow, how this he felt was his purpose, his place on the earth. He then took a sip of his coffee, chuckled, and said, “but that could never happen…” I was aghast. How could someone who so clearly has this image and this passion be suddenly deterred?
“I don’t have the right Master’s, and the education system is so fucked it would never be possible. I don’t have the resources, or live in the right city. And creating the syllabus… I can’t do that. I don’t even know how to create a weekend itinerary let alone a year of a student’s life,” my friend continued on and on of all the ways this dream could never come true. And I listened intently as any friend would, for about four minutes. Until I could handle no more.
“You do realize that you are the only one currently taking away your own dream no?” I asked, and he starred back blankly. “Why are you concocting your own enemy?”
“What do you mean? I fully support this, and I want it for myself and the world. But it’s just not possible, think of all these things that would have to fall into place. Weren’t you listening? In every direction there is a fence, a hole, a problem, a stoppage.”
“The only stoppage I see here is your relationship with your own dream. In fact you aren’t even allowing it to blossom, but are suffocating it at the seam.”
“I am being realistic.”
“If by realistic you mean doing what every person does in the face of challenge, then yes. And like everyone else you are describing and managing your dream away. Dreams were not made to be perfect, they aren’t designed to be easy, or cost free. They also are bigger than our inner voice can imagine. You have a fire and you are quickly stifling it with water, only you can turn the water off.”
“What are you saying?”
What I was saying was this: we all need to take on the practice of feeding the fire, not stamping out the flames. We constantly come up with things in our mind that we want, no matter what they may be, but then we automatically “describe and manage” them to death. We are pros at suffocating our own imagination. Why? Why do we let ourselves stand in the way of us? This isn’t the first conversation I have had with someone that went like this, and I know it won’t be the last. And the most recent incident inspired me to write this post. To share my thoughts and what I have learned about the power of our mind, and our words and intentions. We need to stop describing, managing, and listing all the ways something might go wrong, or where it might get hard. We need to do.
It is time that we stopped taking away our dreams from ourselves, and take on the practice of Declare and Fulfill. Say what you want, and make it happen. Tell your inner saboteur to fuck off. Do not let a voice stop you from creating the life you want, find your stops out in the world, get your feet dirty. Fall, get back up. Declare to the world what you are going to do, and make it happen.
Be weary of what you tell yourself, and which voice you decide to tune into. Align on the side of the dreamer, the goal setter, the planner— not the pessimistic naysayer who yearns to keep everything the same. We are creatures of habit and our mind and bodies love comfort. Stand up for the voice in your head that wants a challenge, that is dedicated to serving you so powerfully that everything you want for yourself erupts. Our world, our generation, our daily lives demand that we evoke excellence in ourselves. Only we can stop us. My invitation to anyone that reads this is to stop describing to themselves why their dreams and goals are out of reach. Tell the world what you want, DECLARE IT, and then, Fulfill. Push yourself to become the person you want to be. Act. Be your cheerleader, come alive, because no one is going to do it for you.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman