More than 10 years ago my boyfriend H. and I took a sabbatical for half a year, to travel around Asia. It was something I had always wanted to do and ‘just’ traveling for 3 or 4 weeks for a holiday did not do it for me anymore. I wanted the real thing.
I did not know if I could keep my job. At the time, I was working at a very nice incentive house in the heart of Amsterdam and I loved my work. I had the freedom to use my creativity and skills as I pleased and traveled a lot. But there it was: my dream to take some time off and travel in an epic way. Perhaps in a few years future children would prevent me from traveling for a long time (a limiting belief, I see that now).
I decided that I would regret more not traveling than I would losing my job
I went to my boss prepared to resign. I told her about my plans and instead of being disappointed as I had expected, she was very happy for me. In fact, she asked me to come back after my sabbatical and accept a promotion. What are the odds! I realise now that it was the universe telling me that I was following my path. In my life, I experienced many similar situations and that gave me the courage to believe in my heart and in my dreams.
What I remember vividly from that time, was that if I told people about our plans, many expressed to me that they also wanted to take time of to travel the world, that is was one of their longtime dreams as well. Looking back, none of them ever did. That has always kept me wondering.
Why is it that it that most people have a big dream, but not many follow it?
Why do so many people settle? Think their dream is inaccessible? Or forget about it altogether? The way I see it, there are 7 ways we forget how to follow our dreams.
7 ways that keep you from following your dreams
1. WE TALK OURSELVES OUT OF IT. Isn’t that what happens often? We have something we want to accomplish, something that makes our heart sing and for a time it is on our minds quite often. But then daily life takes over. The cons do not weigh up to the pro’s. We secretly like our comfort zones. We are reasonably happy, so why turn everything we have to be thankful for upside down? Our dream begins to fade to the background. Becomes a mere daydream.
2) OTHERS TALK US OUT OF IT. People have a habit of projecting their own fears and norms upon others. We don’t like change. And we are pack-animals. If someone tries to stick their head above the herd, let’s slam it back. So no matter how much they love you, your mother, your spouse, your friends might not be overly enthusiastic about your plans. Because they are wild. Crazy. Bring uncertainty. And they speak directly to your ego. Your ego that is fear-based. Because your ego doesn’t like change either. So if other people tell you it's better to stay realistic, we all to easy go back to the herd.
3) WE SETTLE TO DO WHAT IS EXPECTED OF US. We may have wild and epic dreams, but come on, this is real life and there’s money to earn. You’re expected to lead a respectful life and not become an artist or a rock star of some sort. What would your neighbours think, or your friends. Sometimes we even live the dreams of others. Your father wanted you to become the lawyer he is himself, your mother wanted so much to become a grandmother, most of your study friends chose corporate careers. Our environment, family and society in general have a bigger hold on us than we realise.
4) WE POSTPONE OUR DREAMS. Later when I retire, when I have earned enough money, when I have time, when the children are grown, when I am more confident… There are a million reasons to keep putting dreams of, but only one might do for taking the leap. The dream might stay, but we often forget that we might be not fit enough. And what did Garth Brooks (or Ronan Keating) sing about “If tomorrow never comes”.
5) WE FORGOT HOW TO DREAM. Sometimes we just get so caught up in life, that we forget about what we actually came here to do. Your dream, your passion, your purpose are not clear to you, but you keep on feeling that there is more for you. If that is you, try thinking about what made you happy as a child. What did you dream about then? What interests and hobbies did you have? What did you want to become as a grown up? Also think about what other people always tell you you are good in, but to you is normal and easy. What comes effortless to us usually disguises our greatest gifts.
6) WE ARE AFRAID OF OUR DREAMS. This is the mother of all reasons! At least for me it was. Because it touches our innermost fears, uncertainties and possible causes for pain. The fear of failure. The fear of rejection. For what would happen if we try, but it doesn't work out? Often, we fear failure more than we fear a chance at success. The bigger your dreams are, the more change they would mean to you, the scarier. There lies a power in that though: you can tell the greatness of your dreams by the fear they generate. Truth is that we forget our own power over our dreams.
7) WE THINK OUR DREAMS ARE TOO BIG. The really good dreams are the scariest ones. The dreams that spark a 'but who am I...' conversation with your ego. If you think these thoughts you know you have a big dream going on. A dream that means change, that means doing something good, that would transform your life and that of others. What can help is not think about yourself, but about the end result. The other people that you will inspire or help. The secret with big dreams is to not see the big plan, the end result but to break it up in small pieces. They only thing we have to do is bring up the courage to take the first step. What can you do today to start?
A journey of a thousand miles starts begins with one single step Lao Tzu
Now be honest to yourself. Do you have a dream? Do you do in life what you have always wanted to do? Is there a hobby, a special trip, a career change you dream of? If you think about it a lot, if you long for it, let me tell you one thing: You are never to young, old, rich, poor, settled, unsettled, too little, too much or (fill in whatever it is you tell yourself!) for what it is that your heart wants. And let nobody tell you otherwise. Limitations exist only in your mind. You are the only one standing between your reality and your dreams. If you really want something, you can do it. Be brave. Be courageous. Be perseverant. You will get there. And let me know if you do. Or reach out if you need some assistance.
As for my sabbatical: 10 years later, I still think about those months of traveling a lot. It is one of the best things I have ever done in my life and some of my all-time favourite memories are from that time. Climbing volcano’s and temples in Indonesia. The adventure of traveling the Mekong river in Laos and Cambodia. Hiking to Everest Base Camp a challenge completed, making it a once in a lifetime experience. Sleeping in palaces and under the stars in the Thar dessert in India a fairytale. But what I remember most is the feeling of freedom. No rush, no plan. A break from life. On top of the world. Following my spark.
If you want to start following your dre