Do You Dream Big Enough?

Do You Dream Big Enough?


“If your dreams don’t scare you – they’re not big enough!”

I saw this sign during a recent vacation and have not been able to stop thinking about it. In fact, my wife bought me the mug for Father’s Day so I can obsess on a daily basis (thanks Honey)!

After about a month of staring at the mug and thinking about it, I’m ready to share my observations (and hopefully hide the mug in the back of the cupboard)! Here’s what I realized.

  1. Dreams are different than Rewards.
  2. Too many people use these interchangeably.
  3. Dreams can be intimidating!

Let’s dig deeper…

Rewards are great, but they have a different role in your life. They are used to push you through a tough time or to reward you for ‘above and beyond’ behavior. These are the “treats” you provide yourself on a periodic basis.

Dreams are bigger. Dreams are the manifestations of that which you desire, but recognize as low in reality or probability. A dream can be wishful thinking – almost a fantasy, but far too many actually expect them to actualize. Hence the name – “dream” – it ain’t reality.

Simply put – Rewards suggest an ending or prize while Dreams represent a new, different, desired future worth risking or fighting for!

With our terms defined, think about what you “carry around” – Are you:

  • Looking forward to a “once in a lifetime” vacation?
  • Hoping to travel more when you retire?
  • Wanting to winter in a warm climate?
  • Planning on building a woodworking shop in your basement?
  • Thinking about a hobby to start when you have more time?
  • Considering doing more volunteer work when your kids leave home?

These are not dreams – They are rewards. They’re nice, but they are rewards. They are your personal “M&M” waiting for you after you hit some level of financial security, career milestone and/or age.

Don’t get me wrong, I want you to keep these in place. However, don’t stop there. Build some Dreams that scare you. Create a compelling future worth risking and fighting for!

What makes a Dream scary is the risk needed to achieve it. Dreams that are big, hairy and audacious enough to intimidate you are the type you would LOVE to achieve but often force you FAR from your current comfort zone! Consider ideas like:

  • Give up your career and become a missionary.
  • Go back to school after age 40 and do something completely new.
  • Take your family off the grid and live abroad.
  • Sell your home and sail around the world.
  • Give up your ‘day job‘ and start a business.

These can get your blood pressure climbing – both from excitement and fear!

I like both Dreams and Rewards. I do have some Dreams that scare me – in fact, battling my fear has become a part-time job! However, the thought of attaining the dream makes me smile every time I think about it. In the meantime, I have rewards in place to keep me going and to recognize key life milestones.

I challenge you to do some reflection and consideration. You may be in need of both Rewards and Dreams! It is worth the effort.

Do the Work:

  1. Write down that which you are looking forward to, planning for and/or thinking about for your future.
  2. Indicate on a scale of 1 to 10 how much each “scares” you. 1 = not at all and 10 = don’t like to think about it.
  3. Label each as either a “Reward” or “Dream” based on this article. Don’t get hung up if you aren’t sure – use your gut.
  4. Link those labelled “Reward” to a particular accomplishment or criteria – be sure you have a plan to pursue and achieve.
  5. Review those labelled “Dream” and the corresponding level of “Scares me.” Where relevant – look for ways to kick it up a notch. Make them bigger! Redraft them from well outside of your comfort zone and see what you think.
  6. Start to think about what it would take to devote some time and energy to the Dreams.
  7. Strive to spend a minimum of an hour a week on attaining your top Dream.
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