“All men dream; but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act out their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T. E. Lawrence
Every so often we get a glimpse at the way our life could look or the person we could be. Perhaps we are on holiday and experience an internal peace that comes with being relaxed and away from the office. Maybe it is a Friday night and after a couple of drinks we are fun and sociable instead of shy and quiet. Or perhaps a huge smile comes across our face for no apparent reason, but we have the awareness to realize that in this very moment everything is ok (despite how chaotic or bad life usually seems).
In most cases these glimpses are quickly forgotten when we return to what we think of as our normal life or regular state. I, however, prefer to think of these glimpses as a doorway that we can have the power to either keep open or slam shut.
Recently I had one of these glimpses during my one week vacation in Hawaii. It was a wonderful week (although not everything went to plan – more on that in a future article) in which I enjoyed lots of family time, felt relaxed and had a lot of fun (well… as much fun as you can have when caring for 14-month old child).
But sure enough, the past 2 weeks I have been back in my cubicle staring at a computer screen for much of the day. With such a dramatic change in environment from one week to the next, it has been impossible for my mind not to wander back to memories of lying on the beach and swimming in the ocean. I should note here that my dream life does not necessarily involve lying on a beach all day – I think that would get old fairly quick. But I do have a desire for a type of personal freedom that this holiday in Hawaii represented for me (I will elaborate on this below).
So now that I am back and settled into my normal routine, does this mean the door has slammed shut on this glimpse of a more peaceful and relaxed life? Well it depends. The truth is that the door will only shut if I let it.
The following are what I consider to be two keys for turning your dream life into reality or changing yourself, plus a link to an excellent case study that proves the island dream is possible.
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#1: Dare to Dream
The first key to turning your dream life into reality or becoming the person you want to be relates to your mind. With an open mind you will dare to dream of a better life or imagine yourself in a different way. With a closed mind you will do the opposite.
Escaping the cubicle to live on a tropical island is a common fantasy, and therefore easy to dismiss. Most people could quickly come up with a number of reasons that, while not making such a move impossible, would certainly make it very difficult. And indeed it may not be immediately obvious how much a dream can be turned into reality. However, as I previously wrote about in my article Learning to Dream.. Again, sometimes we need to temporarily suspend the need to know how when it comes to dreaming of the way we want our life to look.
The second example I mentioned in my introduction is the person who is normally shy and quiet but, after a few drinks on Friday night, becomes more open and sociable. If this you then you have a choice. You can think that it is simply the alcohol that lets you relax and resign yourself to being this person for a few hours each week. Or, you can see that you have the potential to be more fun and sociable and then make it your mission to be this way normally. This, by the way, is basically what I did. I’m no extrovert, but I have come a long way since being painfully shy in my late teens.
The final example I gave in the introduction is the person that is normally unhappy and/ or stressed who, for just a moment, is filled with an apparently unexplained sense of happiness and calm. I was depressed for much of my late teens, and my road to recovery basically started when I had some really good things happen to me that filled me with immense happiness. At the time this happiness was only temporary, but after a few years of depression it felt like I was awakened to the possibility that I could be happy.
#2: Take Inspired Action
Dreamers frequently get a bad name because their dreams often don’t translate into action. The second key, then, is to ensure you take inspired action that moves you into the direction of your dream or goal.
When it comes to big dreams, often the key is to start small. Something as simple as starting a blog could be the first step that puts you in the direction of your dream. One of the things I am trying to do with my blogging is to destroy the idea that my income has to be tied to living in a particular location or working a particular number of hours. I actually took my laptop with me to Hawaii so that I could spend a little bit of time on Pick The Brain, which is my main source of online income (don’t worry, I didn’t spend much time on the computer during my holiday). For me, this was a taste of the location independent lifestyle that I envision for myself one day.
When it comes to being more open and sociable, one of the best things that you can do is practise talking to strangers. If the thought of striking up a conversation with a stranger scares you, I recommend this article published on Pick The Brain: The Shy Person’s Guide to Talking to Strangers . Joining Toastmasters is also a great way to develop your social skills. I went to a few meetings as a guest late last year. In the end I decided not to join at the moment because I already have enough on my plate, but I really enjoyed the meetings I attended and can see how it would be a huge benefit to someone like myself.
Finally, for the person who has had a quick taste of happiness and/ or inner peace only to have it soon fade, I suggest finding and learning from others who have dealt with a similar problem and overcome it. Even just reading a book or blog on the topic will be beneficial because it will being to expand your awareness, and with greater awareness you make better choices and consequently achieve better results. In particular, I would recommend anything by Eckhart Tolle – eg The Power of Now, A New Earthor his webcast/ podcast series with Oprah.
Chasing Coconuts – A Case Study into Realizing Your Dream Life
I’m not the first person to dream of a simpler life, and I certainly won’t be the last. Back in March I read Chasing Coconuts: From the Cubicle to the Caribbean by Mark Hayward. In this article, Mark tell how a trip to Hawaii when he was fifteen sparked a desire to live on a tropical island. Over the next ten years he took consistent action towards realizing his dream – eg serving in the Peace Corps and taking “stepping stone” positions – which finally culminated in his moving to the Caribbean. Definitely worth a read!