Dreaming Is Not Enough

January 11, 2016


Back in 2010, I wrote a blog post about Barbara Sher’s book Refuse to Choose, and my enthusiasm for my “six-year calendar of happiness.” Thrilled to understand myself better, I thought the calendar represented a way to focus my Scanner nature and enjoy and pursue all the things that catch my interest in a tidy and organized fashion.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

And, at first, it worked pretty well. In 2010, I played with my horse, began learning watercolor, read a couple of classics. In 2011, I did more of the same. However, despite my hopes otherwise, my freelancing sputtered to a halt. I never studied Florida history (2010), did any cross stitch projects (2011), or finished the book I was writing (2012). I had the single word “travel” under 2014, and though I visited my family in California and took a road trip to St. Augustine with a friend that year, that hardly seems like what I’d originally had in mind.

I’m sure Refuse to Choose had advice on making those dreams and goals happen, but I conveniently forgot the part where I had to take action. Here are three mistakes I made:

  1. After writing down the topics I wanted to concentrate on for the next year, I tucked the list away and never looked at it again.
  2. I didn’t break down the larger goals/objectives/dreams into small actions I could take.
  3. I didn’t revise and expand each year’s goals as I went.

This reminds me of the Sidney Harris cartoon of two men standing at a blackboard chalked with equations. Step two of the problem they’re solving is: “Then a miracle occurs.” I kept expecting that miracle to occur! I kept expecting to meet my goals or learn fill-in-the-blank or experience I-don’t-know-what without taking any steps to make it happen.

Writing down goals and dreams is a start, but it’s only a start. Just writing down “travel” didn’t take me where I wanted to go, either literally or figuratively. In 2016, things are starting out differently. After I jotted down some goals for the year, I made a list of things I’m going to do in January to reach those goals. Then I made a list of what I plan to do this week. Then I sent that list of tasks to a friend who has agreed to kindly prod me when I start blowing off the steps that will lead me to my goals. (I’m an Obliger, so this step is important for me.) As the year progresses, I will adjust my goals as I need to, and I still want to jot down a few ideas for future years—true to my Scanner self, I have many things I want to explore that I will not have time or energy to tackle this year.

Why do I share this with you? Why should you care?

First, because I hope to have many more simple pleasures and everyday adventures to share with you here on Catching Happiness. More importantly, I hope if I succeed that I’ll be a positive example to inspire you to live a fuller and more interesting life. (And if I fail, I can be a cautionary tale!)

I want to be happier and I’ll bet you do, too. While doing isn’t always the answer, sometimes it is. I want to do more of the things I say I want to do rather than only dream about them. 

What are your dreams for 2016? How do you plan to make them come true? Please share in the comments below.

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