Since I started talking to people about dreams, I have had a lot of really interesting conversations. One topic that keeps coming up, over and over and over, is the definition of dreams. Specifically, people want to know the difference between dreams and goals, or dreams and wishes, or dreams and resolutions. I have thought a lot about these questions. I have looked up definitions. I have talked it over with friends. Here is what I have come up with so far. These are just MY thoughts and ideas. They are not official. Please feel free to continue a dialogue with me about this. I am still learning and developing my thoughts on this topic.
The easiest for me to define is resolution. I think that “resolution” has kind of a negative connotation. It stirs up memories of year after year of making “New Year’s Resolutions” that don’t stick. When I say that I am making a resolution, I am almost saying that I know this is something I should do, but I don’t really want to or I don’t really believe that I can succeed. If I were to give an example of a resolution, it would be to lose weight or get fit.
A wish is something I want, desire, or long for. How does that differ from a dream? For me, a wish seems less likely to come true. Also, a wish seems less under my control, like I have no power to make it come true. It will come true only if I am lucky. If I were to make a wish, it would be that I wish I had a beautiful singing voice.
A dream, like a wish, is something that I want or desire or long for. It comes from my imagination and is fueled by hope. For me, the difference between a dream and a wish is that I have some control over making my dream come true. I can wish for a million dollars, but I dream that I someday have the money to fix up the run-down apartment building at the end of our street and turn it into owner-occupied townhouses. I think, in a way, my dreams are connected to my values, to what is important to me. My dreams may or may not come true, but just thinking about them and working toward them makes me feel joyful and full of energy. My annual resolution to get fit is a drudgery and an obligation, but my dream attached to that is to be healthy enough to see my (as yet unborn) grandchildren grow up. With this dream in mind, my workouts become less of a chore and more enlivening, more fun.
Goals are the steps that lead toward making a dream come true. I have a dream to have my photographs exhibited in an art show. In order to fulfill that dream, I have to learn about photography. I have to practice photography. I might have to save money to purchase a better camera or take a class or buy photo editing software. I have to find out how to enter my photos in a show and take the steps to enter and be selected. Each of these steps is a goal toward making my dream come true. Goals make a dream concrete and give it a timeline and make it seem like a real possibility.
Now, the definitions of each of these words overlap. Having my photos in an art show is a dream and it is also a wish and a goal. There is one very important point that has come up in all of my conversations about these definitions. And that is, whatever you do, do NOT let semantics keep you from dreaming or wishing or making resolutions or setting goals. Whichever word works for YOU, use that word. If it frees your imagination to think of your wildest dreams as wishes, then write down your wishes. If it helps to think of your dreams as goals, then write down your goals. Whatever gets you thinking and dreaming and wishing, that is what is right for you.
When I wrote my List of 50 Things I wanted to do before my birthday, I never thought of those things as dreams. They were just things I wanted to accomplish. Looking back, I see that they were dreams. Most of them were very small, achievable dreams. That is fine. Those little dreams started me down a path toward bigger and bolder dreams. Reading Dream Manager gave me the idea, the permission to dream in more areas of my life and to dream bigger. In my Dream Book, I have written dreams that could probably be more accurately defined as wishes. That is fine with me. Dreams come in all shapes and sizes. Some are easily achieved and some are impossible. Some will change me and some will change the world. They are all mine and they bring me so much positive energy.
Now, it’s your turn. Think about your dreams and wishes and goals and resolutions. Write them down. Get a special blank book or just write them on a piece of paper. Enjoy the fun of brainstorming your dreams. let your imagination take you to new places. What’s your dream?