Yes, I believe in dreams (up to a point) but I prefer to describe the concept as thinking big with a specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable, time-based plan. To me, there is no such thing as a dream home or dream vacation – there is only an earned home or an earned vacation. You eventually wake up from dreams and get back to reality where you only have what you earned.
Not long ago two alarming conversations took place with people I deeply care about. One involved a seasoned company founder hoping external macro factors would ultimately solve a revenue challenge. The other involved an individual dreaming and yearning for a particular future while metaphorically running in place without a plan or even a plan to make a plan. After listening, making innocuous comments and offering bits encouragement the discussion moved on.
Later I felt tremendous guilt. On one hand, there was guilt for not opening up a deeper discussion that could provide usable perspectives to my friends. On the other hand, there was a responsible, cowardly feeling because I avoided a deeper discussion only because I was not in the mood, or just too tired that day, to deal with potentially emotional responses.
Somewhere between being perpetually driven 24X7 “without a life ” -or- sitting around aimlessly hoping and dreaming while clutching a box of tissue lies a balanced response. It does not take much energy to make a simple plan to address the problem, or at least start to do so with some reasoned effort. After thinking, the dark side of dwelling hopes and dreams crystallized into 4 basic points:
- Dreams are often a morass of feelings and yearnings but these emotions too often betray us.
- Dreams usually have no action-plans and plans contain some level of accountability.
- Hope is not a method, it merely shifts responsibility somewhere else. (See also this book by General Gordon Sullivan)
- Hopes and dreams can mate which gives birth to the evil twins: excuses and self-victimization. (I was hoping that this would happen… I guess my dreams were not meant-to-be).
So, I am going back to finish both conversations without being a know-it-all or a screaming stepmother. If I am to be true to these two relationships, then don’t I have a duty to deliver an encouraging, actionable response with care and compassion? Both conversations will include my encouragement to turn hopes and dreams into action-plans with clear objectives, no matter how small. I will also give each person my commitment to hold them accountable and walk the path with them in whatever way they feel is most effective. If I care, which I do, then I owe it to them.