Americans are known for dreaming big, reaching for the stars, and pursuing opportunity. Everyone, no matter what age they are or where they are from, has aspirations and dreams. While this can be a wonderful thing, what happens when we hit a wall? What do we do when our dreams don’t come true, or when we must forfeit a dream for more important things?
To answer these questions we need to look beneath our dreams and ask ourselves what wants and needs are central to them. While you don’t have to give up on the dream, you can make things easier on yourself no matter what happens by asking yourself these questions:
1. What wants will be satisfied by fulfilling this dream?
– Take a sheet of paper and brainstorm about how you feel this dream will satisfy you. (Examples could be “I’d feel accomplished,” “prestige,”
“ engagement” “something to devote myself to” or “fun and excitement.”)
2. What needs will be met by having this dream come true?
– Take some time to think of these and list them also. (Needs could be “I’d feel like I belong,” “I’d accept myself,” “I would have made life better for others,” or “I’d have a community around me.”)
3. What are some other ways that these wants and needs can be met?
– Let’s say a man has always dreamed of holding a political office. He’s working towards that dream but doesn’t know if he will ever be elected. Upon reflection he realizes that the biggest reason he wants to be in office is so that he can be empowered to improve the lives of others. He sees that the core of his dream is living a meaningful life by having an impact. Once he realizes this, he can think creatively about ways to lighten his family’s load, lift up a discouraged friend, and be more kind to clerks and service workers he meets. Maybe he starts a habit of picking up litter or creates a community organization. In any case, he is living his dream in smaller ways everyday, instead of waiting for someday. We can do the same.