Are you on track with your New Year’s Resolutions? Are you on track with your goals and with your life goals?
When You Still Had Dreams
Remember when you were a child. Did you want to become an astronaut, a superhero or a princess? What happened with these dreams? Maybe you did not achieve these goals? Maybe you don’t even want it anymore. Your dreams and goals have changed and this is fine. Maybe you found out that it is not such a good idea to become a princess.
But, what about your spirit? When you were a child it was normal to dream big, to imagine yourself as a hero and to see more opportunities than obstacles. This might have changed too.
Do you still have big dreams and goals? Or, are you a cog in the machine, working for the big dreams and goals of other people? Has this become your new normal?
The Dream-Stealing Machines
Imagine a machine – a huge machine. It takes playful, creative and ambitious children as an input and it spits out obedient, adapted and specialized adults. These adults have learned to fear failure and to work toward an expected, predefined result. They have become cogs in another machine. These machines are called school and work.
The More Optimistic View
Sometimes these machines have cogs that behave differently. Do you still remember your favorite teacher? This one teacher that inspired you and where everything suddenly made sense. This teacher who shared the love and motivation about her subject, not only the knowledge. How influential was this teacher for you? Did she influence your career path?
And what about this boss? No, not the one you hate, that stole your idea and got a promotion from his boss for the same. The other boss, the one that protected you when you made a mistake. The one that helped you to strive. The one that was more like a mentor than a “typical” boss.
You probably remember these exceptional teachers and leaders and most likely they influenced you more than the average ones.
Dreamcatchers and Dream Keepers
A dreamcatcher is a handmade willow hoop with a woven net and maybe some feathers. You can hang it above your bed to keep bad dreams away.
You need to protect your dreams. There are many people, environments or habits that all want to steal your dreams. Take your boss that always rejects your ideas, or your friend that does not believe in your business idea, or your boring office environment, or your habit of watching too much TV every night. What does all this do with your dreams and goals?
There is this psychological concept called learned helplessness. If you put a dog in a cage where he cannot escape and then you give him electric shocks he will try to run away. He can’t because the cage is closed. If you do this long enough the dog will surrender to his fate and he will not even try to escape when the cage is not closed anymore. Please, don’t try this at home.
The same is true for humans. If you put humans in an environment where they cannot strive, where they cannot pursue their goals, they will surrender – they will become cogs in the machine.
Don’t be a cog in the machine. Don’t destroy dreams. And, don’t let someone destroy your dreams.
The good news is that you can control your environment and the people around you. You don’t think so? Yes, you can. First, you need to identify the factors that support your dreams and the ones that undermine them. Then you can take steps – small steps first, if you like – to reduce the undermining factors and to increase the supporting ones.
This might be something as simple as rearranging your office desk, or to watch less TV, or something more difficult like spending less time with the naysayers in your life.
Think about creative ideas about how you can protect your dreams and goals. Create your new and supportive normal. It is worth it.