Don't Follow Your Dreams, Swallow Your Dreams

I’m not a big fan of the phrase, “follow your dreams.”  

This mantra implies that your dreams are out there wandering around, and that you just need to follow them along the road of success.  

In theory, it’s not a bad idea.  Keeping your focus on a long-term vision can definitely help you stay determined when roadblocks appear along your path.  

But I think it can be disempowering to think of our dreams as separate from us.  So I’m going to advocate a different approach:  Swallow Your Dreams.  

Think of who you want to be in the future.  Where do you want to live?  Who do you want to have in your life?  What activities or experiences do you want to have on a regular basis?  

Now, picture that you’re currently living that life.  Notice how your body feels.  Do you feel more positive, more confident, and happier?  Do you feel more fulfilled?  

The power of visualization has been proven, and the reason it’s so effective is not some mystical law of attraction from The Secret.  Visualization works because it conditions your mind to take the kinds of actions that produce the results you want in your life. 

If you feel your dreams are separate from you and somewhere off in the future, there is a significant gap between your current reality and your fulfillment.  

But if you are living your dreams right now, if you have swallowed them and made them part of you, then you will take actions as if you were already living the life you want.  You will reach out to people you want to be around.  You will start doing activities that you really want to do.  You will make plans to move where you want to live.  

We often feel like everything needs to be “in order” before we can live the life we want.  We need more money.  We need a different job.  We need a different relationship.  We need more stability.  THEN we’ll make the changes to get the results we want.  

The irony is that when we make the changes first, our life will start to look more like our dreams, which creates a positive feedback loop of us taking more action to make those dreams a reality.  

So start today.  Swallow your dreams.  Embody them.  Reach out to that person you’ve been scared to approach.  Sign up for that activity you’re not ready to try.  Apply for that job you’ve told yourself you’re not qualified to do.  

After all, we only have a short time on this earth.  And the worst that can happen is that you’ll be right back where you already are, except then you’ll have more knowledge and experience to do it better next time. 

As the poet Dylan Thomas said, “Rage against the dying light!” 

Posted on July 9, 2015 .