By the time I was thirteen I’d concluded that dreaming would not get me that hot pink paisley swimsuit with ruffles on display in the junior department of the Brandeis Department store downtown. I’d been babysitting for years and knew that only money from my summer nanny job and a layaway plan would.
Instead of dreaming, I set goals and made plans. Set a goal to go to college. Plan to finish in three years. Set a goal to have a 100 people protest. Plan a march and get them there. Set a goal to throw a party. Plan the perfect pesto and pecan pie.
I thought the only way to get what you wanted was by hard work and waiting. Dreaming felt like a waste of time when doing seemed to work so well. Besides, who had time to stare out a window when there was a sociology exam to study for? Even today the stack of books by my bedside reveals my penchant for the practical. While friends discuss the latest novel offered up by Oprah, I read books with a yellow highlighter in hand.
Hard work and tenacity yielded rewards. Thanks also to white privilege, decent genes, and exceptional teachers. Student loans paid. Great children raised. More than one meaningful career. Book written.
Dreaming appeared irrelevant to a meaningful life. Why dream about the impossible when you could focus on the attainable?
Then one day, I awoke to realize how many of my unknown dreams had come true without my ever having set a goal or made a plan.
My law partner Angela lived 60 miles away when she invited herself to practice law with me. I had no plans to hire. Twenty years later she’s running the largest woman owned law firm in the state. Dream come true.
While in California I picked up a magazine and read a description of life coaching. I’d been happily practicing law for twenty years. I’d never considered doing anything else. In that moment my encore coaching career found me. Dream come true.
Last year while on a walk with a coworker she blurted out her certainty that she knew to a man I would make my life with. Being both divorced and widowed, I was happily single without any plan— let alone goal—of finding my perfect mate. He and I will share our second Thanksgiving together next week. Dream come true.
What else might come true in life without effort? With complete ease? I may think it unimaginable, but I have ample evidence that dreams come true. I will always be a goal setter and a planner. I’ll work hard and persist with some measure of patience. But among my goals is to make some plans for dreaming.
When was the last time you allowed yourself to dream?
How does dreaming add to your life?
What dreams have come true for you in your life?