Sometimes our dreams and desires are set aside. There are often good, reasonable grown-up reasons for this. Maybe you get married or have a baby and things need re-prioritized. Maybe a crisis occurs and it’s all-hands-on-deck to just survive and get well. Maybe our dreams are just not working for us and we need free from them for a bit.
All of these have been true for me. But … a real dream never dies. It just gets buried under the stuff of life. There comes a time—as the marriage settles in, the baby grows, the crisis abates—when you will try to remember where you left that dream. It won’t be there. Like the victim of an Arabian sandstorm it will be covered up with the dust and dirt of life. You may not even remember where you left it … or what the dream even was. Unless you start digging.
Here are five exercises to recover dreams long forgotten. The first time I did this, I remembered dreams that I had as far back as eight years old! They had been buried a long time. So take 15 minutes now and write down the answers to these questions (I first discovered these five questions in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron). Don’t over-think them—just write.
1. List five hobbies that sound fun.
2. List five classes that sound fun.
3. List five things you would never personally do that sound fun.
4. List five things you used to enjoy doing.
5. List five silly things you would like to try once.
I first made these lists in my journal in 2003. Back then, one of the things I would never do that sounded fun (#3) was, “Move to Los Angeles and pursue acting.”
I was doing that thing I would never do about 18 months after writing it down.
The great thing about this exercise is that it stands alone. You don’t have to trail it with a list of action items and strategies to meet your goals. Because these aren’t goals—at least not yet. These are dreams. If you uncover something that really is a buried dream, you won’t be able to lose it again. It will find a way into your life. And it might even sneak onto your to-do list someday soon.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Nick Carter