If you really want to achieve big things, make sure to take time to dream.
We’ve all been told that productivity is crucial to our success. So we hack our days in order to be faster, more efficient, and laser focused. But there is something to be said about slowing down and taking the time to dream.
Why it’s important to take time to dream
- Dreaming gives your mind a break. From constant deadlines to endless phone notifications, your brain needs a reprieve from all the stimulation. Dreaming is a chance to relax and refresh your mind.
- Dreaming allows for non-linear thinking. When you lie down or gaze off into space, your overly logical and analytical mind gives way to non-linear thinking. Your mind can wander, make connections, and find solutions to problems.
- Dreaming can connect you to your intuition. Our inner critic or censor makes it hard to tap into our true desires and goals. We let fear takeover, instead of our intuition. But dreaming is an opportunity to silence the inner critic and listen to our inner voice—the voice that is not controlled by fear, but curiosity and passion.
Ways to let yourself dream big
From an early age, we’ve been conditioned to pay attention, be productive, and to avoid staring off into space. Because dreaming has often been associated with laziness, it can feel awkward and silly when we finally give ourselves permission to dream.
Allow yourself to dream big by doing these simple exercises below.
Write in your journal
There’s something about writing in your journal that feels so confessional and freeing. When you put pen to paper, you feel less self-conscious and more expressive.
A great journaling exercise you can do is the Morning Pages, a writing method from Julia Cameron’s popular book The Artist’s Way. The idea behind the Morning Pages is to free-write for three pages in your journal as soon as you wake up. You might find that the hazy/dream-like state in the morning keeps the inner critic at bay. And that the Morning Pages helps you dump out all the complaints, worries, and other distracting thoughts from your mind. It is when the mental clutter is cleared out that you can make discoveries about yourself—projects you’d like to work on, people you’d like to connect with, and hobbies you’d like to pursue.
So try writing in your journal to dig through your thoughts and uncover your dreams.
Go for a long walk–without your devices
Another way to let your mind wander is to go for a long walk and unplug.
While many people like to use their walks as a chance to catch up with a friend or listen to a podcast, try to dedicate at least one walk a week without your phone. A long, leisurely walk, especially when it’s out in nature and without your phone, can help you decompress and feel more connected to the present moment.
And when we’re feeling calm and centered, our mind will naturally feel inclined to start dreaming.
So try going for a long walk in the park or hike along a quiet trail in the woods. Be aware of the sights and sounds around you. And let your mind go exploring.
Create a vision board
It can be overwhelming trying to articulate your big dreams into words. Sometimes it’s easier to express yourself through photos and images.
Here’s how to do it: Gather a bunch of magazines, and start cutting out images that call to you. Try not to overthink it. Just cut away. Then, start pasting the images onto poster board or construction paper. Take a step back and see if you notice a theme or pattern emerging. Example: if your board is composed of images of beaches and trees, maybe it’s a sign that you want to spend more time outdoors or relocate from a city to a home that’s near nature.
Keep your vision board in your bedroom or a place where you can look at it frequently. It will serve as a visual motivator to achieve your big dreams.
How to integrate your dreams into your life
So you’ve taken the time to dream and gained more clarity on your big goals. Amazing! Here’s how to start integrating your dreams so that you can make your dreams a reality.
Integrate goals in the long term
When it comes to achieving your dream goal, you’ll want to plan it out and create a timeline. Depending on the size of your dream, you may need 5,10, even 20 years to see it come to fruition. Don’t be put off by how long it will take. You will set mini goals along the way to get you closer to your dream.
Ask yourself: What are the big steps I need to take in order to reach my goal?
Maybe your dream goal is to move to France. Big action steps could be: find a job overseas, learn French, meet people who’ve successfully relocated, apply for a visa, etc.
Remember: you will not attempt to do these steps overnight or in one fell swoop. These will take place over a period of time. But it’s important to define your targets now, so that you know what direction to go in.
Integrate dreams in the short term
Sometimes it’s the tiny steps that make a big difference over time. What are the little things you can do everyday to make your dreams more tangible and real?
So if your big dream is to move to France, some tiny steps you can take are: do five minutes of Duolingo a day, connect with people on LinkedIn and social, research companies in France, make a list of potential cities to live in, go to bed earlier to have more energy for your dream goal.
By keeping your eye on the long-term view, and doing something small everyday that’s related to your goal, you will progressively turn your dreams into something real.
And this was all made possible by taking the time to dream.
Written by JiJi Lee.