When Old Dreams Change
Once upon a time, five years ago, I was nurturing a dream to "retire"
from my consulting practice and focus on writing books. As a child,
I'd been fascinated by photos of writers' studios and imagined that
authors led a romantic life of the imagination. (Inexplicably, I
held onto this fantasy even after experiencing the reality of publishing
But sometimes, I've found, we grow and change without realizing
that our dreams haven't grown and changed with us.
In Organizing For The Spirit, I wrote about my friend, Laurel, and
a discovery she made along these lines:
"She had been chatting with an old friend, who mentioned
that he was selling his house. Laurel had always loved his home
and for years had hoped that one day she could live there, should
he decide to move on. She went to bed that night enthused about
the possibility of having this dream come true, only to find that
she couldn't sleep. And the reason wasn't excitement. It was confusion.
But why should she be confused? Wasn't this what she had always
wanted? The house was perfect; no work needed to be done. Where
were her doubts suddenly coming from? It took her all night to
understand that this long-term dream of hers was actually an old
dream. In the interim, she had remarried and was happily settled
with her new husband. Although her dream house was lovely, it
wasn't much bigger than the one she was living in. Yes, it would
be easy to move forward the way she had always imagined, but was
this what she still wanted?
It's reasonable to assume that as we change, our dreams for
ourselves will change. But as Laurel's story shows, we're often
not aware that we are changing. We may be hanging onto outmoded
ideas of what will bring us joy."
I came back to this concept, myself, in 2005 when considering whether
to purchase a house on the Jersey shore. I had always wanted a house
at the beach and jumped at the chance to consider a few. However,
I soon realized that something felt wrong, and it wasn't just the
high prices. Like Laurel, I was confused. But why? Wasn't this what
I had always wanted?
Yes, this was what I had wanted as a child, a teenager, as a
twenty-something, and even into my 30's and 40's, but today in
my 50's, my priorities are different. Now, living at the shore
isn't just about frolicking in the ocean and enjoying summers
with the kids, it involves concerns about declining property values,
cost of travel, sun sensitivities and fears about hurricanes in
this age of global warming.
How do you know if your dream is an old one? It's not something
you can determine just intellectually. You have to go within and
ask yourself, "How does this feel?" If you're not sure,
or if you're confused, you're telling yourself something right
then and there. Clarity is one of the hallmarks of pursuing a
dream that's right for you now. A sense of peace is another. There's
a difference between having questions about pursuing a certain
course of action and having doubts. Questions mean you need more
information, whereas doubts imply a level of discomfort that needs
to be explored further in case changes have occurred that you
haven't been conscious of.
Laurel's experience was powerful because it drove home the awareness
of just how much her life had changed. So was mine. We both were
able to release our old household dreams because they don't fit
in with our chosen lifestyles today.
Have you asked yourself lately if you still want the sorts of
things you used to want? Some ideas may travel with you until
the end of your days, while others will just be a rest stop on
At the moment, my dream of the writing life is not working for
me. I feel isolated and frustrated by the present-day realities
of the publishing business. I'm discovering that what gives me
the most pleasure and fulfillment is my interaction with others,
particularly my coaching and workshops. I still love to write
(and will be doing that in more depth on my blog), but not as
an exclusive pursuit.
My current dream is helping people in transition learn about
their core values, and how to use these values to make the best
choices for themselves and the others with whom they are involved.
Activities related to this dream feel exciting, challenging, and
most importantly, give me a tremendous sense of peace and clarity.
Look carefully at your old desires. Ask yourself:
Are these still my dreams of today?