It’s Sunday night. All the little projects that were on the To-Do list for the weekend somehow slipped from Saturday morning to Sunday, and then to Sunday night. Some got done, others didn’t. The three calls Carol promised herself she’d make never got made. “Darn it, they’re going to think I don’t care. But now it’s too late.”
One of the calls was to her high school piano teacher who had somehow tracked her down and left a message to see what she had done with all that talent.
No time for any of that. There’s just enough time before bedtime to make a new list from what’s left of the old one, and then add the key things that need to get done this coming week.
Monday morning. The cycle starts up all over again. Like running a marathon, but with no one marking the progress. One foot in front of the other, moving forward. Minimizing any damage. Staying focused. Maximizing the results of the efforts she’ll make in her business.
And it’s time to call a time-out and get them back.
First let’s look at where they went.
Where Our Dreams Went
As teens we could spend entire Saturday night sleepovers talking with our girlfriends about what we wanted our lives to look like: what we’d do, what we’d achieve, what kind of guy we’d marry, how many kids we’d have and what mark we’d leave on the world.
We’d even draw conversations like that out of whoever we were dating, so we could share our dreams and see if his were a likely match.
College was a time to experiment and to add more exotic elements to our dreams.
Then came the job world, marriage and mothering … and the time spent dreaming shifted to time spent worrying about everyone around us. (Nurturing, they call it.)
And the years passed.
Sometime in our forties we start to feel a rumbling, a gentle dissatisfaction. The kids will be gone in a few years. We’re on track with the work we’ve chosen to do, but it feels like living a check-list of things that have to be done to fulfill a plan. A cut-and-dry plan of what’s expected of us.
That rumbling may not grow large enough and the dissatisfaction may not explode into deep questioning of what life is about and what we’re running the marathon for. If not, by our fifties they will. According to Harvard neuropsychologist Dr. Louann Brizendine’s book The Female Brain, shifting hormones will release a rash of questions like:
- “Is this all there is?”
- “What about me?”
- “What am I going to do with the rest of my life?”
What we realize is that we turned off our “dream button” for one or both of the following reasons: (1) we made other people’s dreams more of a priority than our own and/or (2) we figured that, as adults, those exuberant dreams of youth were silly.
Turning Our Dreams Back On
Nothing could be further from the truth. Dreams are what give meaning to our lives, giving us something to strive for that touches our souls. To keep them at a distance means that, even if we reach what others consider “success,” it will feel empty.
Turning our dreams back on is actually a simple process. All it requires is quiet time and permission.
So, in case you’re feeling as if you are obediently fulfilling a life plan that lacks the exhilaration and zest of those teenage dreams, make yourself this promise:
I, _____________________, promise to set aside time for myself, in a quiet place of my choosing, where I can dig back for the feelings I had when I dreamed about what my future would look like. I will adjust those dreams to my passions and priorities of today, without losing the vitality. I will write them down. And I will give myself permission to start fitting them into my life so that the rest of my life is as fulfilling and passionate as I know I deserve.
(And if you need a little help, the best tool I can recommend is Whitney Johnson’s book Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream)
Let us know in the Comments section below what youthful dreams this may have brought back for you.
Bio: Sharon O’Day fixes financial lives. She is a tell-it-like-it-is money expert with a successful career in global finance, plus an MBA from the Wharton School. Today she specializes in getting entrepreneurial women over 50 back on their game so they can have more money, less stress and more joy. With her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” strategies, they take actions that lead to their ultimate goal: financial peace of mind.