We’re all dreamers. Or at least we all have been dreamers. But if we don’t reach those dreams fast enough, society tells us that while dreams are nice, they’re not practical. We are taught that to believe in your dreams is in and of itself a pipedream.
This is bullshit. Deep down we all know it. But fear is a real motivator. And when push comes to shove, it’s easier to back off on those dreams than it is to put our necks out there.
I get it. I have lived a large part of my life on the sidelines watching others persist even when the dream seems lost. I’ve seen some fall flat on their faces. I’ve seen others fall many times and before eventually reaching the dream.
I’m sure you know those types of people too. Regardless of the outcome, the difference is they’ve given it a try. They’ve taken a shot and — whether they succeed or not — they come out the other side better than before.
It reminds me of the speech “The Man in the Arena”, by Teddy Roosevelt. He’s talking about those who have the courage to try and says “…if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Even if we’re not quite ready to try, keeping those dreams alive is the only way they can ever become something. And in the meantime, some interesting things can happen.
The Three Different Types of Dreamers
Let’s talk about the different types of dreamers as I see it. We could get much more detailed in how we classify them, but for the purposes of this post, I know of three kinds.
The Dreamer With Conviction
Those who fall into this category are almost not even dreamers anymore. They have bought in with such conviction that it’s like the dream has already become a reality. The downside is they can be prone to delusion. Or, even worse, they fail to take action because to them the dream has already arrived.
The upside is if they can balance what is real with what isn’t yet, they can become exactly who they are aiming for. The life of their dreams is within reach because they believe it to be.
The Hopeful Dreamer
These dreamers are not convinced of anything. They haven’t given up, but they also don’t expect that their dream will come true. It’s just a nice thing to think about sometimes and hey, it might happen, right?
The downside is they aren’t as likely to do much in the way of acting upon their dreams to make them real. The upside is they haven’t completely abandoned any and all hope. They’re still hanging on — by a thread, maybe, but at least there’s still a little light left.
The Once-Upon-A-Time Dreamer
People in this category no longer believe in their dreams. They haven’t given up on life, and may still find it to be enjoyable. But they no longer carry dreams of creating the life they’ve imagined. All their dreams have either been reached or abandoned.
The downside is they have muted their potential. They may already have everything they could want from life, but isn’t there always something more you can become, something more you can give? The upside (if there is one) is that they aren’t haunted by the need to chase something that is often elusive.
Why It’s Important to Believe In Your Dreams
This goes without saying, but abandoned dreams are less likely to come true. Aside from the obvious, continuing to believe is important for other reasons too. When you’re thinking about quitting (we all do at one point or another), here are three reasons to keep the faith.
If You Don’t, Who Will?
Dreams are fragile depend on us to nurture them. When push comes to shove, we are the only ones able to keep them alive. Others might provide support and encouragement, but no one will ever care about our dreams as much as we do. If we don’t continue to believe in them, we can’t expect anyone else to either.
Provides Context and Meaning In Our Lives
We get the most out of life when there’s a “why” behind our actions. Believing in a dream helps to give us a constant and consistent why. When we have a greater purpose, no matter how big or small, all our activities carry that much more meaning.
Believing In Our Dreams Gives Us Hope
Life is full of ups and downs. One day you’re on top of the world, and the next it seems like nothing can go right. Having a dream is a good way to keep a light at the end of the tunnel during the hard times. And it helps to provide extra motivation and direction during the good times.
What Happens When You Believe In A Dream
Having a dream means nothing unless you believe, deep down in your soul, that it’s destined to become real.
Even if you never reach the dream as intended, interesting things happen when you believe.
I’m sure there are many others, but here are four things that I’ve experienced in my own life. Each of them has the potential to be a life-changer.
1. They become real
I don’t mean that you can just believe and **POOF!** your dreams are real. But something happens when you cross over that threshold from wishing to believing.
They become easier to visualize, which makes them easier to achieve. And your thoughts, actions, and energy shifts as if they’ve already been accomplished. This can help you see the path toward completion.
But be careful about how you share your belief. A study by NYU psychology professor Peter Gollwitzer showed that announcing your goals may make it less likely you’ll achieve them. Why? Because, according to this Inc.com article, sharing it out loud with the world is more likely to give you “a premature sense of completeness.”
Of course, this begs the question, “should I share them or not?” Only you can make that decision. Some people thrive under the “pressure” of needing to deliver on the dream. For others, voicing the dream makes it feel so real that they become content with the vision and never move beyond that.
Whether you announce it publicly or not, as long as you believe, the dream has been planted. And provided you nurture it, that dream will first feel, then become, real.
2. Your confidence soars in other areas
Ever have that “I can conquer the world” feeling? Or what about the times when everything just seems to be going right?
That’s this in action. I don’t know if it’s been proven or disproven, but in my experience it’s true. When you believe you can and will accomplish one big thing, that confidence bleeds over into all the other things you do.
A few things start happening for you, before you know it, you’re riding that momentum in all areas of life. Confidence begets confidence.
So believe in that dream, allow it to feel real, and ride that wave into all other parts of your life.
3. You inspire others
There’s nothing more inspiring than a confident person. Notice I said “confident” not “cocky.” Walking that fine line is a whole different post. But when you’re feeling good about your dreams, others will feed off that.
It’s not even something you have to actively do. You just go about your life. But you will project a vibe that attracts and inspires others.
We all want to be around winners. And we will naturally be pulled toward someone that we can see knows where they are going.
4. You push yourself
A dream you believe in helps to provide purpose. And when you have a purpose, it’s easier to find motivation.
Think of it like this. You go to the gym and in the cardio room are a dozen treadmills. People are walking, jogging, and running on them. They’re moving, but they’re not really going anywhere.
If you didn’t know it was good for you, it would seem ridiculous for people to pay to walk on machines and never go anywhere.
Yet that’s exactly what we do when there are no goals or dreams to believe in. We walk and walk and walk through life with little meaning in where we go and why.
Of course, we know that there are health benefits to cardio workouts. And that understanding is what gives meaning to us walking or running. It even makes sense for us to pay for that opportunity.
Without a dream we commit to, we won’t see the meaning in getting on that treadmill of life. But with a purpose, we’ll show up every day to run, we’ll push ourselves when tired, and we’ll even invest in that process.
We Are All Works In Progress
Adopting a mindset where you believe without a doubt in the reality of your dreams is not an easy thing to do. Most of us enter this zone in fits and starts. Some days are better than others. We may spend days or weeks going through the motions. Sometimes life happens and we get pulled off track.
Instead of beating yourself up for this, spend that energy course correcting. We are all works in progress. And that’s how it should be. When we stop looking to grow, we stifle our ability to reach those dreams of ours.
I am a marketer, a writer, and a thinker. Sometimes I do all three at once. My greatest achievement is convincing my wife to marry me. We have three kids and yes, one of them is my favorite. I'm the author of "Lessons for Joey: 100 Things I Can't Wait to Teach My Son" and "Where Greatness Lives".