Be Playful

Posts Tagged ‘dreams

thoughtful
Photo by thp365.

I have recently been wondering what to do with my life.  My university degree has come to an end, and I am at a juncture.  I must make a decision about my new direction.  It is a place of boundless possibilities and opportunities.

There are so many things that I could do, places I could go, dreams I could follow.  And so what do I do?  I do nothing. I am paralysed by choice, by the fear to begin.  Faced by an empty canvas I dare not draw my first line in case it is wrong.

I am scared of failure.

I know my dreams, yet I have been failing to live up to them.  They seem too distant for me to begin making them a reality now, to take those first few steps in the right direction.

And yet, there is poetry in my soul, something that keeps prodding and prompting.  I listen to its words:

The aching dull pain
of the cost of your calling
that haunts you at night
and in moments of doubt.

I am realising that this post-university funk, this verging on the edge of depression, staring into the deep, dark pit of failure, is because I am refusing to face up to my calling, to my daily responsibilities and my long term dreams.

Even in this despair, I feel fortunate.  This depression that follows me everywhere, that lurks in the deepest part of my being, is a continual reminder to live up to my calling, to follow the calling of my destiny.  Though it is painful, it keeps me on track.  I wonder how many of us run from this pain, scared to look back upon it and realise all the dreams we have left to rust and fester in the dirt.

Responsibilities

praying
Photo by ReefRaff.

Many self development blogs and books highlight the importance of living your dreams.  According to these blogs, your main responsibility is to find out what your dreams are and strive to live them.

I agree that every person should take responsibility for the course of their life, that every person has a responsibility to pursue their dreams.

However, I also think that there are greater responsibilities, that each person has a number of more important callings.

Daily Responsibilities

  • Getting up early
  • Doing the dishes after dinner
  • Taking small steps towards your dreams
  • Work – earning money
  • Engaging in a spiritual practice
  • Doing something you love
  • Resting

Relationship Responsibilities

  • Keeping in touch with friends
  • Telling family members that you love them
  • Taking responsibility for the well-being of family and friends who are unable to care for themselves
  • Quality time with loved ones

World Responsibilities

  • Working for social justice
  • Praying for change
  • Ensuring you are not complicit in injustice
  • Random acts of kindness

Dream Responsibilities

  • Knowing your dreams and goals
  • Breaking your dreams down into short term goals
  • Doing something each day to make your dreams a reality

Some responsibilities will take priority over others.  Personally, I place relationship responsibilities first, followed by world responsibilities, then daily responsibilities, and lastly dream responsibilities.  To put it slightly differently, I allow my relationships with family and friends and my commitment to a better world shape the direction of my dreams.  So, for example, I choose not to fly when travelling, but instead to take the train or cycle to visit somewhere local.

Your Thoughts

What responsibilities do you place first in your life?

Have you ever run from your calling?  How did it haunt you?  Are you still running?

Please share you thoughts in the comments section below.

paint-hands
Photo by Umair Mohsin.

I am a perfectionist. Whilst this means that when I do something I do it to the best of my ability, it also means that I’m often afraid to start on projects for fear of not being able to complete them to perfection.

For me, a big part of engaging with my playful side has been learning to get my hands dirty, to stop worrying whether or not a project I am working on will end up completely perfect.

When children are at play, they are so completely present in the world that they don’t notice if they’re getting mucky or making a mess. I’m trying to learn to be like this too.

Since I started being willing to get my hands dirty, I’ve been learning a few things.

Children learn by doing and trying

Have you ever watched a young child learning to walk? He or she will take one or two steps before toppling over. Next time it might be three steps, then four. Then back to two steps. The child doesn’t see falling over as a failure, but delights in the success of having tried to walk.

Seek out passions that absorb you

I’ve found that I’m least afraid of failure when I’m doing something I love because I become so absorbed in completing the task. This is known as the creative state of flow.

I’ve also found that even when doing things I love, it’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s a matter of making a choice to start a project that I’m dreading, then once I’ve started, I suddenly realise how much I’m enjoying it.

If you’re still looking for something you love doing, a great idea is to try different things. You may find it helpful to make a list of all the things you’ve enjoyed doing in the past, and all the things that you’ve dreamed about doing but not yet got round to. Commit to doing at least two of those things within the next week.

Pursue your dreams and learn on the way

It’s been a difficult lesson to learn, but my dreams haven’t stumbled into my lap. I’ve had to chase them down, making mistakes and learning on the way.

In the past, I used to make a lot of excuses to myself for not starting a writing career. ‘I’m too young’; ‘I’m still studying’; ‘I’ve no idea what to write about’; ‘I’ll start when I’ve got the right experience’. Looking back, I think all my excuses were just covers for my fear of failure.

I’m slowly learning to look beyond my fears of failure and focus on my dreams. It’s a difficult journey, but it’s also an adventure.

Massive Action

The most important thing I’ve learnt through being willing to get my hands dirty is how much further action gets you than inaction.

It seems obvious now, but I think I always used to see my dreams as being ‘in the future’ and just somehow thought they’d happen. I’m very grateful for the blogs and self-development books that have taught me the importance of massive action; if I had done nothing to change my situation, I am sure that I would have stayed stuck where I was.

If you have a dream, but you’re not sure how to get there, one of the most helpful things you can do is to find out how other people got there. There will almost always have been a stroke of luck somewhere along the way, but they were in the right place at the right time to get that luck. Find out where the right places are for you to be, and commit to the actions that will get you there.

Now, go and get your hands dirty!


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