All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. ~ Walt Disney
Ah, the things we fantasized about as children! Before anyone told us we were just being silly, when we still believed in talking mice and Hobbits, and thought being a nurse or a firefighter would be exciting but not really work.
A time when we believed that the only reason we couldn’t do anything was because a grownup said “no” and that when we were the grownups we would be able to do anything we wanted.
Then we grew up.
In my last article we explored the four steps to moving a fantasy through the stages of dreaming to visioning to creating a reality.
Every time I speak about this at least one person says “but some fantasies just aren’t possible.”
And when they say that a lot of other people nod sagely.
Well someone forgot to tell Walt Disney that talking mice weren’t possible. Millions of kids show up to talk to Micky and Minnie every year. And Peter Jackson created a world where Hobbits came to life along with Dwarves, Elves and Orcs. To some people, being a nurse or a firefighter might be so exciting and enjoyable that the effort doesn’t feel like work.
I think one of the best guides to telling you who you are, and I think children use it all the time for this purpose, is fantasy. ~ Peter Shaffer
Indulging in a rich, unedited fantasy life is as essential to the creative wellspring as food is to physical function.
When we say “that’s impossible” or “I can’t” what we usually mean is “it can’t happen exactly like that.” That may well be true. I have yet to meet anyone who has gone on a romp through Wonderland with the precocious Alice, or sat down to a dinner of roasted dragon with King Arthur and his knights. However, just because some flights of fancy have to stay in the realm of fantasy does not mean that we should edit them, or that we cannot choose the dreams worthy of pursuit based on the life we live in our fantasies.
I think the important thing is to learn what element of a fantasy is really worth committing to.
For instance, a fantasy about owning a private island may be about the beach but it might also be about a luxury lifestyle, about status, about ownership, about seclusion. Or it might be about none of those things and about something entirely different. Knowing what about that fantasy keeps drawing you back allows you to create a reality that includes those elements.
When I was a little girl I thought I wanted to dance. Now, even if my parents had supported dance as a career (they didn’t) I was not destined for a life at the barre. My natural build is what is euphemistically described as “curvy” which is not a desired attribute in ballet dancers. I abandoned my fantasy completely until recently when I asked myself what I had really wanted from the experience of being a dancer. I realized that the thing I really admired about dancers in any discipline was their physical control. That whether they were dancing or just darting across a busy street they could ask and their bodies would answer.
I had neglected physical training for most of my adult life but I began working with a kettlebell trainer to build strength, stamina and balance and, after six years of not putting my feet on a yoga mat, purchased two months of unlimited yoga classes at a local studio with a commitment of going to at least three classes per week. Since taking those initial steps, I’ve starting working with a fitness coach who helps me challenge my perceived limitations as they show up in both my mind and my body.
Achieving physical power and control is no longer part of a fantasy or even a “someday” dream. It has become a vision that I am focused on and willing to support with my life’s energy.
I also realized that I loved the music, the collaboration, and interdependence of ballet and the energy of the theatre. I now listen to music when I work, have created a multitude of opportunities for collaboration into my personal and professional life, and have committed myself to coaching people who seek to develop their creative energy - very similar to actors and other artists.
I do not intend to ever take the stage as a dancer, but what I learned was that the performance was never the element of dance that drew me to that fantasy.
I am living my fantasy in a very real way because I have crafted a career and life that hold the elements that made that fantasy appealing in the first place.
As a child I also loved color. I had dreams of training as a make up artist, a painter, a clothes designer, an interior decorator, any career that allowed me to play with color. But visual arts are not my area of talent.
In revisiting my old fantasies and dreams and encountering again the old thoughts about having a career where color was a key element, I realized that I do work with color. When I am engaged in a creative endeavor my mind’s eye sees color. Swathes of bright silk fabric or bands of colored light flow in the background when I am writing or even coaching. Writing this, I’ve been seeing the pink you would expect to see in a summer sunset. Giving myself permission to acknowledge it and play with it has allowed color to drive my creativity even though it is not a visual element in the end result.
By turning my focus to the role that color does play in my creative activities I have incorporated it into my vision for my life. As a result, I find my creative juices are easier to free up, I am more productive when I am writing and have even more laser focus when I am coaching.
There are all kinds of reasons we let what could be our visions languish in fantasy or dream land. Commitments require courage and fear gets in the way. We have naysayers in our lives and often even in our heads who tell us it is impossible or we don’t deserve it. We may have partners in our lives or businesses who do not share our vision. Sometimes there are even practical reasons for letting fantasies keep their “entertainment only” status.
However, when you make a commitment to turning your fantasies into dreams, narrow your focus to turn dreams into visions and create a plan to turn visions into realities, you will find that your life undergoes a dramatic change. What was once an “if only” or a “when and if” conversation with yourself becomes a “how am I going to make that happen” conversation.
You begin to set goals, you begin to plan, you begin to allow yourself to believe, and you begin to take action.
And things begin to happen that you thought only happened to story book heroes.