Bob Denny: Don’t let that dream die


Published: Friday, July 26, 2013 at 2:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 26, 2013 at 2:52 p.m.

When a dream comes your way, do you just let it die? As kids, we fantasized about things that could be. We daydreamed, and used our vivid imaginations to explore worlds and things to do that were way beyond our reach. When I was eight years old, I was a frogman on a Navy demolition team, and an astronaut exploring the moon and planets, and a pirate!

Somewhere along the line, we may begin to give up on our dreams. We stop fantasizing about things that are unlikely or difficult. Maybe it’s to avoid disappointment, maybe it’s because we’re teased or criticized for being “dreamers.” Daydreams are replaced by more realistic and achievable thoughts, much less astounding. Instead of winning an Olympic gold medal or writing the great American novel, we settle for a job that offers enough money to make a living. Or maybe we stop dreaming at all.

Why do we let our dreams die? It’s likely that we’re afraid that our dreams will let us down. Fears of disappointment, fear of failure, and sometimes even fear of success, may be painful enough that we set our sights very low. We settle for less. When we do that, we may rule out the possibility of reaching out for chances of greater happiness. We rule out trying to develop our gifts, talents, skills, and interests. We stop noticing opportunities. We give up what we could be, and settle for less.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Isn’t it possible to allow our imaginations a little freedom, to consider what we could do with our lives, and explore paths we might enjoy choosing as alternatives to a better life? What’s the cost of doing that?

It can be a little risky, a little unsettling. It’s easy to let our fears stop us from living life to the fullest. We may fear the unknown, change, looking foolish, making mistakes, or failing. We may opt out, in favor of the practical side of life. But there are surely ways to get beyond these fears. Here are some things you could do to re-light the spark of adventure and self-development:

Talk about possibilities and opportunities with a friend, or someone close to you. Play “What if?” What if I volunteered at the hospital? Took a flying lesson?

Ask questions. Follow your curiosity. Use the web on your computer. Call someone who knows something about the subject you’re interested in. Does your local golf course offer classes for beginners?

Play. Try it out, as a hobby, sport, or interest. Read about it. How about local history? Arts and crafts fair?

Get educated. Local trade school or college subjects?

What are your friends doing that you’re interested it? Can you join them?

“Keep your day job.” Go for that dream to become an actor or singer, but don’t expect to make a living at it anytime real soon. Go for it, but keep your feet on the ground. Make sure you have a backup plan, “plan B.”

Don’t let your life become where dreams come to die. Don’t shoot down a dream without giving it a chance to fire up your imagination. Be willing to reach for that better life for yourself. It could all start with just a dream.

Bob Denny teaches psychology at Florida Gateway College. Your comments are welcome at Bob.Denny8@gmail.com.

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