“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
I grew up with a stepdad who was a dreamer. He lived in a world where positive affirmations created a positive life. He believed that going after your heart’s desire was as important as anything else. He lived in the clouds and in his designs and in his visions.
I used to wake up and find that he had left post-it notes on my bathroom mirror with quotes about reaching my dreams such as, “You can if you think you can,” and “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.”
He bought me a pillow speaker when I was seven, so every night I could listen to a subliminal tape repeating how I would succeed beautifully in life.
He held a vision for himself to create his own business. He invented a product to put on every street sweeper and set out to make this dream come true. He worked tirelessly at it for many years, and eventually it took off. He had done it. He was living his dream.
I would love to say that this is where the story ends. I would love to say that he lived happily ever after embracing his dream. But that just wouldn’t be the truth.
What actually happened is that my stepdad’s dream—this life that he created—began to unravel almost as quickly as it had been created. And eventually, he lost everything: his dream, his family, and his life.
(He was never the same after his business folded; his zest for life left him, and he ended up dying at fifty-six from unknown causes. I think that his spirit was broken and his will to live was no longer there.)
But, even though it ended so badly and sadly, he happened to pass on the dreaming torch to me. And I carry it proudly and almost defiantly.
Dreamers aren’t always revered in our society. Sometimes they are seen as flaky or irresponsible.
But growing up with a dreamer and becoming one myself, I can say without a doubt that being a dreamer allowed me to create the life I am living today. It allowed me to believe that anything is possible, and that definitely is a good thing.
I believe that carrying big dreams in our hearts and then bringing them to life is an essential part of living fully. Just because my stepdad’s dreams didn’t go as he had hoped definitely doesn’t mean that all dreams will fail.
Quite the opposite, really. I have brought many dreams to life. And I give him a lot of credit for that. During our journey together I learned some powerful life lessons about dreaming, each of which helped me hold true to my dreams:
1. Believe in yourself as much as you believe in your dream.
I have seen many beautiful dreams fail simply because the dreamer didn’t have the self-confidence to see them through. They worried that maybe it was too big of a dream. They started to feel that maybe they weren’t actually good enough to want something so amazing.
Knowing that you are worthy of your dream is an essential part of bringing it to life. Growing up with positivity and affirmations helped create a solid foundation of self-esteem for me. I don’t believe my stepdad had this self-confidence, which is one of the reasons why his dream fell apart.
2. Be okay with failing.
If you never try to reach your dreams because you’re afraid that you’ll fail, then you’ll never know for sure if you could have made them come true.
I saw my stepdad go through several “failed” versions of his product before he came up with the final one. And each time, he was even more determined to create something that held his vision. He learned from each prototype and then incorporated these changes into the final version.
He was okay with failing and with making mistakes; he knew that it was part of the process. Knowing this gave me permission to make mistakes in my own life as I’ve moved toward my dream.
I’m sure I’ll continue to make mistakes, but one thing that stays true throughout each of these so-called failures is that I am here today because of them. Each one led to a shift in my perspective and a different path, which led me to the next, and the next.
3. Keep going.
I have worked for myself for the past ten years. And throughout that time, I have had many moments where I wondered if this entrepreneurial lifestyle was worth it. I have questioned why I took this path and asked myself if I should just get a job with the security of a regular paycheck.
But the dreamer in my heart knew that I needed to keep going. I saw my stepdad keep at it, and I knew that he eventually reached his dream by doing so. And so I kept going and stayed on course, knowing that perseverance is the way to success. Staying power and continuing on is what separates the true dreamers and the achievers from the dream hobbyists.
4. Enjoy being different.
Being a dreamer transcends the dream itself. It’s a personality trait, a lifestyle, a way of thinking and being. When you’re a dreamer, your life isn’t going to look like everyone else’s. You think differently. You act differently. You live differently. And sometimes, this can feel uncomfortable.
My stepdad was definitely an outcast—he didn’t have many friends. And while I don’t think this needs to be the case, I do think it’s important to bring friends into your life that will accept you and embrace your dreams rather than minimize or criticize them.
I love that I have created a life where I get to do pretty much whatever I want. And I love that I have brought into my life a loving community that understands me and appreciates the dreamer in me. It’s definitely possible to enjoy being different and to find a tribe who enjoys it, too.
5. Allow your dream to change.
I believe that one of the reasons my stepdad’s dream fell apart was because he was holding onto the original vision without being open to new manifestations of it. Dreams change, just like we do. But when we resist those changes, we miss out on new possibilities.
Someone offered to buy my stepdad’s company for a lot of money, but because this wasn’t part of his original dream, he wasn’t even willing to consider this possibility. Shortly after he refused this offer, his company fell apart.
While this was heartbreaking at the time, the lesson that I have taken from it is that sometimes we have to allow our dreams to change. Sometimes we have to let go of our original plan and surrender to the possibility of whatever our dream may become.
My stepdad taught me that being a dreamer is something to be embraced rather than denied.
I’m a proud dreamer who takes risks and lives my life in this space of passion and innovation. Even though his dream was never fully realized, I’m glad my stepdad was an incurable dreamer.
It allowed me to grow up with hope and faith and creativity and life. And I’m proud that I have taken this trait on and will continue reaching my own dreams. I would love for you to do the same in your own life. The world can definitely never have too many dreamers.