Have you ever noticed that children have a peculiar quality most adults seem to be missing? Think about it. When you watch a child playing, what is different about him or her compared to adults? To state the obvious, they are young, and they don’t have all the baggage adults have. But there is something else – a quality that rarely carries over into adulthood. I’m talking about the freedom to dream. Kids allow themselves to dream, to hope, to be inspired, to look forward to all the exciting things life has to offer.
I don’t know about you, but when I look around me at adults, I see a lot more fear than freedom. It’s like they have locked themselves in cages and can’t find the key. We spend our adolescence trying to make it out of school alive, then we are pressured into doing even more school on top of that, and then we spend the next 20 + years developing a career so we can feed our families and retire early. And that is supposed to be a successful life – the American Dream. There are some people who thrive on that kind of a life, and are very good at it. But all to often it leads to burnout, discontent, and broken relationships. It’s like we are enslaved by routine and we feel the need to force ourselves to keep doing what we’ve always done, as long as it pays the bills. I mean, who even has the time to dream anymore? And anyways, what’s the point? Even if we do dream, what are the chances that those dreams will come true?
That, ladies and gentleman, is the very belief I would like to challenge. I think we sell ourselves short when we “grow up” and quit dreaming. I understand that life gets crazy and once you are stuck in a rut it can seem like there is no reasonable way out. But can I suggest something to you? Maybe, just maybe, there is a way out. And maybe that way out is through the power of allowing ourselves to dream, to hope, and to be inspired. Maybe it will be risky and crazy and hard to break out of that rut, but really, everything worth having involves some risk, a bit of insanity, and hard work.
Let me ask you something. On a scale of one to ten, how content would you say you are with your current job? Do your coworkers build you up or weigh you down? Do you feel that your talents are being utilized to their full potential? Do you have enough time on the side to live life in a way that fulfills you and blesses others? If you said yes, then that’s awesome! Keep doing whatever you’re doing! But my guess is you answered with a number below ten. Maybe even below five. Now let’s take this question a step further. If you are at all discontent with your career, how does that affect other aspects of your life? Does it affect your family? Your relationships? Your happiness? I’m sure it has a significant effect on the non-work related areas of your life.
My final question to you is this, what do you think could happen if you allowed yourself to dream again? If you let yourself plan to take a vacation to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, or if you called up that old friend to hang out, or maybe something bigger like quitting your current job to pursue the one you know you would be better at? I’m not saying you have to or even should do any of those things. I’m simply asking what good you think could happen if you did. It seems to me that the people who are most content with their lives are those who allow themselves the freedom to dream, to be themselves, and to live life to the fullest. They don’t get caught up in fear and “what ifs.” They just live life doing what they were made to do. Sometimes that means quitting one job to pursue another. And other times it means slowing down enough to realize how good you have it, and to appreciate the little things each day. Learning to dream and be free to live life will look different for everyone because everyone is unique. But my point is, I think it’s a terribly sad truth that most adults quit dreaming when they reach high school or college.
So my advice to you (and to myself) is to allow yourself to start dreaming again. If it’s been awhile and your imagination is a little rusty, take it slow. Start by finding one small area of your life that needs improvement. Check something off your bucket list. Set a goal, and achieve it. Celebrate your success, then repeat with something bigger. Bring others along with you, help your friends and family do the same thing. Some crazy awesome things can happen when a group of people refuse to be ordinary adults stuck in a rut. Don’t live life out of fear of dying or not being able to pay the bills. Just allow yourself to dream, to hope, and to live.
Do you agree that a lot of adults have smothered their freedom to dream? What is your dream? What is something crazy that you don’t think is possible for you to achieve? Let me know what you think in the comments!
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