Today I wanted to say something about the importance of allowing ourselves to have dreams and fantasies. In this particular case, I am not talking about a one night stand with your favorite celebrity, but rather, dreams and fantasies about your life and your future.
I believe that, in the right context, dreams and fantasies are a critical component of inspiring us to learn, grow, and reach beyond the daily monotonous comfort zones our lives can easily become. Dreams can be the catalyst that motivates us to take risks that are necessary for healthy change.
While I am sufficiently challenged in my current professional position, there are times when I find myself looking at other employment opportunities. When I look at posted positions and think about applying, I allow myself to take a moment to view my professional career in a new light. If I give myself permission to fantasize further, I may picture myself in a different location, or community, and I may be able to envision myself being challenged to grow in new ways. The impact of this dream or fantasy goes beyond an advertised job that may never come to fruition in my life. As I fantasize about the position, the image of who I can become is one that can begin to manifest itself in my current position as well. My fantasy slowly becomes my reality by allowing myself to dream and envision the personal growth and change.
When are dreams and fantasies unhealthy? When they are used to escape reality in a way that causes the individual to lose touch with the real world. For example, when bored, unhappy housewives or househusbands escape into romance novels to “escape” it may create unhealthy, unrealistic expectations for their relationships with their spouses. These expectations of life lived like a romance novel have been known to destroy marriages.
One critical thing I have found with healthy dreams and fantasies is that they involve changing MYSELF and SELF improvement, as opposed to imposing change on someone else. Healthy dreams allow a person to look into the future and imagine how their lives would be different if something where to change (such as their job position, financial status, or relationship status). Again, the key is to see yourself in this equation, actively participating in the process that allows for life improvement.
Fantasizing about winning the lottery can also be a lot of fun (and we all know that the real value of purchasing a lottery ticket is those few days of fantasy prior to the numbers being called and your not winning). This fun is not unhealthy in and of itself, but becomes unhealthy if an individual cannot see it in its true context – a fun fantasy with very little grounding in reality.
As I continue to dream about my future career path, I do hope it continues to inspire me to improve my job performance in the present. By making progress in my present reality, I will move myself closer to the fantasies I so enjoy.
It is my hope that, as I move towards 40 I am able to apply these principles more fully. If I allow my dreams and fantasies to motivate me, I wonder what my career will look like just 360 days from now.
I look forward to finding out!