Do you build castles in the air? Some dreamers dream wildly extravagant dreams that have little chance of coming true. They buy a lottery ticket, and laugh it off…”when I win, I am quitting my job and buying a mansion in paradise.”
Some people have dreams and know, deep down inside, that dreaming is just the beginning. They know that they can create the life of their dreams and they take steps to make it happen. It is not only having a vision, but making plans and taking action that takes these wild, seemingly impossible dreams from wishful thinking to reality.
The path of least resistance is to drift through life, reacting to circumstances and accepting what is given to you. We settle for a job that is okay but doesn’t make us happy, because it pays the bills. We settle for Great Aunt Nellie’s sofa, even though it is ugly and uncomfortable, because we can sit on it and it is easier than getting a sofa we like. When we don’t like our lives, it is easy to get stuck in a rut. We buy things to make ourselves happier, run out of money before the end of the month and dream of ways to escape.
Though it is easy to believe otherwise, it’s not all about the money. There are plenty of miserable millionaires and celebrities. The research on lottery winners suggests that although they feel increased happiness immediately after their win, they are not happier in the long run. A 2016 Time magazine article explains that many winners feel hijacked and cursed by their new found money.
What are we are really chasing when we dream extravagant dreams? At first glance, it seems we are chasing money, but what we are really chasing is how we want to feel. We may want to feel secure, or recognized or appreciated. We may want to feel free, or loved, or accomplished. We may want to feel more joyful or less stressed. We are chasing something bigger than money.
We might not win the lottery, drive a Lamborghini or live in a mansion. What we can do is have a vision for the way we want to live and then make a plan to get there. In this way, we can create our dream lives.
Here are some questions that will help you to think about what you really want in your life.
1) What do you value? If you value family, then you will never be happy unless you build family time into your life. If you value travel, you will save your money in order to travel or find work that allows you to travel or even join the Peace Corps to live in another part of the world. If you value status, you will seek to wear designer clothes, drive exotic cars, and yes, even work for that mansion. I have spent ridiculous amounts of money on education, because I value learning and knowledge, but I can happily wear a ten dollar flea market watch. Aligning your life with your values is the first and most important step to creating your dream life.
2) What does your perfect day look like? Perhaps you think your perfect day is lying on a beach sipping drinks with little umbrellas. Maybe you long for endless sleep. Do you see yourself out with friends, partying the night away? What do these dreams tell you? Maybe you need to relax, get more sleep and spend more time with your friends. I longed for mornings that were less rushed, flexible and meaningful work, and more time with family and friends. I wanted to stop being too busy to watch the sunset, go for a swim or mess around in a boat. These aren’t necessarily extravagant things, but if how we spend our days is how we spend our lives, these days will make me happy.
3) What kind of space do you want to live and work in? Cluttered and junky? Sleek and sterile? Beautiful and organized? Warm and cozy? Friendly and welcoming? There are no right answers. I believe that our space is important to our sense of contentment. If you are unhappy with your surroundings, it is easy to long for a palace. I dreamed of a cozy and warm cottage near a lake and in a city. It took three years of step- by- step planning, but I live there now.
4) What do you want to accomplish in your life? Do you want to help people? Save the owls? Raise wonderful children? Perhaps you want to be known for your expertise in a certain area, or for your legacy in a business. Yogi Berra famously pronounced, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll wind up someplace else.” Knowing what you want to accomplish is the first step toward achieving it.
When you have inner clarity about how who you want to be, how you want to feel, how you want to live and what you want to accomplish, your decisions are easier. You can make a plan to stop dreaming about your perfect life and start creating it.
If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost;
that is where they should be.
Now put the foundations under them.
Henry David Thoreau