Updated: Jun 23
One of several trends on the internet right now is this notion of keeping your dreams to yourself. Have you seen these posts? "Dream your dreams in private," they say. You don't have to look very hard to see articles and Instagram posts that go so far as to tell you your dreams need to be protected. They warn that telling others about your goals can actually turn you against achieving that goal. They tell you to keep a journal and push forward with your dreams, not letting fear stop you. But inciting fear is the appeal they're using to sell you on this idea of dreaming in private in the first place. Your dreams need protection. That, my friends, is fear rhetoric. Silence is a buzzkill, and the truth is, if your dreams can't handle a little (or a lot) or pushback from friends and/or family, you're probably not gonna achieve them anyway. Tough love, I know, but we're about making actual change around here.
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Here are four reasons to dream your dream out loud:
Energy is moved on the spoken and written word. That's right, I'm going straight there to all the woo. Hold your hand against your throat and say a sentence or two out loud. Did you feel the vibration in your throat? That's energy moving. Speaking your dreams out loud is one of the most powerful vehicles we have for moving towards them, because when we speak them, we push them into the word at a different vibrational space then when we just sit around and think about them. Here's an exercise: sit in a chair and think about the saddest song you know. Really try to hear it playing in your head. Now sing it out loud. Sing it with all the might and passion you have. Which way felt more powerful, from a vibrational standpoint, to you? When we speak, or write, we move energy, and getting energy moving around a goal is half the struggle for many of us. Ever tried to start a new exercise routine? Is it harder the first few days or after a month? The more you exercise, the easier it gets to exercise, because you've moved energy around this notion of exercising. We can talk about that movement as habit formation, but in its most basic terms, habit formation is nothing more than the regular movement of energy. So even if you just speak your dreams out loud into your bathroom mirror, speak them and speak them often (from the present tense, as though you've already achieved them).
Related to the last point, the more we talk about something, the more we situate that thing in our reality. The more we situate it in our reality, the more likely we are to bring it into this material world. In scientific terms, the first part (the part where you start to see Toyota 4Runners everywhere now that you're thinking of buying one), is called the Baader-Meinhof (pronounced badder minehoff) phenomenon. That's a condition of confirmation bias in which you now believe the 4Runner is popping up everywhere when, in truth, your brain is now looking for 4Runners, and so you're noticing them everywhere. But here's where we add the woo (or just talk about how energy moves): now that you're seeing 4Runners everywhere, now that they're a regular part of your reality, one of two things will happen. You'll either fall more madly in love with the 4Runner and work to align yourself with owning one, or you'll decide the 4Runner isn't what you thought it was, and you'll move on. You'll either bring the 4Runner into your material plane, or you'll dismiss it as a possibility, but either way, seeing the 4Runner regularly will have some effect on your material reality. Likewise, if I talk regularly about my plans to spend the summer in Paris, for example, I'm more likely to encounter more Parisian things--adverts, music, style, etc--because I have Paris on the brain. The more I talk about Paris, the more my brain believes I'm going to Paris, the more Paris things I see around me, and so the more likely my brain is to take action towards the Paris goal without resistance.
Speaking of resistance, when we share our goals, especially to friends and family, we may be met with resistance or disapproval or laughter. I think that's a great thing. Ideas need to be tested, and our resolve needs to be tested. I know first-hand what it's like to have family not support or believe in an idea or a career path or life decision, and I know how tempting it can be to alter our plans when we meet resistance. I grew up in a family in which art was not valued, or at least not valued for "people like us," i.e. poor people. The message I received from a very young age (I'm talking kindergarten when my teacher told me storytelling wasn't a job) was that art was a hobby and work was work. I know what it means to pursue a goal without any support, and I now know that lots of us do that every single day. If you're not able to own your dreams in spite of all the naysayers, I don't know how you persevere to achieve them. If the fact that none of your friends like your social media post about how you've decided to quit your job to start a full-time pottery business is enough to dissuade you from starting that business, I don't know how you have the fortitude to start and run a business as a whole. If your mother not believing that novel-writing is a valid career choice is enough to keep you at your desk job, I wonder if you could meet the demands of bringing a work of fiction into the world. Don't get me wrong, it would be lovely, and make all our lives so much easier, if the people around us could just be excited for us and not project their fears and insecurities onto our ideas, but we can't control them. We can, however, control how we understand them. My mother never believed writing was a career choice. Based on her fears and insecurities and her life experiences, I had only two career options open to me: doctor or lawyer. Those were the respectable professions to her and those professions represented what it meant to her to make it (and she really loved telling people her daughter was going to be a doctor or a lawyer, even though I never expressed any interest in either). But I now understand that her ideas about my career path had nothing to do with me. My dreams are mine, and her opinions about them are hers. If we're going to be successful in achieving big goals, we have to be able to separate our dreams from the opinions of others. We have to grow a little thicker skin around them, and one way we do that is by talking about them. We do that by learning who is supportive and who is not. We do that by practicing being who we want to be before we actually become it. We do not do that by working in secret and living in silence.
By sharing our dreams and our goals out loud, we establish a level of accountability for ourselves. Not that we are accountable to other people, we're always free to change our minds, but by sharing our goals we come to align ourselves with people who have similar goals. You are the average of the people you surround yourself with. If you want to be a painter, for instance, you should start to surround yourself with other painters, and in doing so, you become accountable for your identity as a painter. If you want to be a writer, you should make friends with writers...who will then want to talk about writer things and so hold you accountable to your identity as a writer. And again, maybe in the early days, you feel like an imposter, like a fraud faking your way into the writing world. Rather than the phrase "fake it till you make it," I prefer "be it till you see it." Perform writer for long enough and one day you'll be a writer. Hang out with painters, and I guarantee you, you'll start painting. I'm starting an art business, so I'm actively networking with local artists who are doing what? You guessed it, working as professional artists.
It is a myth of the patriarchy that we need work in isolation, that we're all independently pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, that we're in constant competition with one another. We need community. Networking fuels us. And some goals are pretty freaking challenging, and we need support to cross the finish line. So I say, dreams your dreams out loud. Work like hell for them. Love them, nurture them. Share your road and your struggles with others, because maybe they can help, or maybe they're looking to you to be the example they need to get started themselves. And if you "fail" or you change your mind along the way, good for you. Failure is a necessary step of evolution, and growth only comes to those who learn better and so do differently.