This blog post originally appeared in 2012. New posts on The C2C return on September 11th, 2017.
There are a lot of people who dream about manifesting their creative dreams but never actually sit down to make anything happen.
In my opinion, these people aren’t lazy, irresponsible, weak, or cowardly. In my opinion, these are simply people who’ve yet to learn how to dream without making dreams their master.
Why We Would Rather Dream Dream Than Actually Live The Dream
In his famous poem, “If,” Rudyard Kipling shares several important lessons that he hopes will help his son become successful in life. One of the best parts of the poem is when Kipling tells his son that he should dream but “not make dreams [his] master.”
Now, when I first read this line, I had no idea what Kipling meant. But, two years ago, when I finally began to write the novel I had dreamed about writing, I finally understood what Kipling meant.
It was only then, when I started to pursue the dream and not just dream the dream, that I learned that the reason why so many writers don’t even begin the novel they dream about writing.
It all comes down to this sobering fact: we would rather dream the dream than actually experience the high-highs, and low-lows, of what living out the dream is like.
We know consciously (or unconsciously) that the actual living out of our dream requires us to face rejection, failure, boredom, disappointment, depression, as well as acceptance, success, excitement, encouragement, and jubilation.
But in our dreams we have the benefit of only experiencing the positive aspects of the dream-realization process, and we’re free to censor all the negative aspects of that journey.
How Dreaming Becomes Your Master
Now, I’m not knocking dreaming. I think dreaming is important. Vital even. We all need to have a vision. We all need to have a concrete goal of what we want out of this life, and dreaming helps us define both that goal and that vision.
So, a dream is always a great place to start.
But where dreaming goes bad is when you get stuck on that vision, or goal, and don’t leave any wiggle room for improvisation or adaptation.
Dreaming becomes your master when you don’t allow yourself to take the first step in making your dream a reality, because you believe that all the stars have to be aligned perfectly in order for you to proceed.
Dreaming becomes your master when you don’t adjust or recalibrate your dream to the random curve balls life throws at you.
Dreaming becomes your master when you seek a pure, unadulterated version of your dream, and refuse to compromise for anything that isn’t exactly what you had imagined.
Dreaming becomes your master when you refuse to be open to opportunities that weren’t apart of your initial dream “plan,” but that may still help you realize your dream in the long run.
Dreaming becomes your master when you think you must “coddle” your dream and not let it be “tainted” by “impure” or “less-than-ideal” circumstances.
Waiting for ideal circumstances, or seeking to create ideal circumstances, is exactly how your dream gets deferred.
How To Dream Without Making Dreams Your Master
So, here’s what you must do if you’re continually deferring your dreams on a day-to-day basis:
Admit it. You have let your dreams become your master.
Now, for your own good, escape from your bondage and take the following actions toward your freedom:
Make a decision. (Remember: decision = action.)
A theater teacher once taught me this vital lesson: he taught me that “decision = action.”
For many of us, indecision is the constant foil to fulfilling our dreams.
We can’t decide on the best way to begin realizing our dream, because we see too many ways in which our decisions could lead us to disaster.
So, if you’re stuck in indecision, remember that as long as you stay undecided you won’t be able to move forward with you dream.
But, if you want to move forward, just make a decision. Any decision. A decision will always propel you into action, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself taking a real step toward your dreams.
(By the way, don’t be afraid if your decision does lead to disaster. If your decision produces an unfavorable result, you can always decide to try something else later.)
Stop analyzing. Just experience.
Another way we allow dreams to become our master is by overanalyzing our dreams.
We analyze the probability of us succeeding, or we analyze how much money we might make, or we analyze what awards we might, or might not, get. We study the statistics, examine the percentages, pore over the stories of people who have achieved something similar to what we desire to accomplish. We start there, but we don’t end there.
We spend hours upon hours comparing, contrasting, pondering, conjecturing, stipulating, estimating, and extrapolating all aspects of our dream—but we never just choose to EXPERIENCE our dream.
If you want to stop making dreams your master, you need to stop analyzing your “chances” of realizing your dream, and instead make the choice to experience the realization of your dream.
Remember that analysis is just thinking, and just thinking about your dream won’t get you anywhere. So, just move from thinking to doing, today.
Know that the living out of your dreams means that you must experience the “low-lows” of the journey as well as the “high-highs” of the journey. This is all part of the process.
Nobody gets an easy ride.
Well… except for Kim Kardashian. And Snooki. And rich people’s pets.
But you’re not Kim Kardashian, Snooki, or a Yorkshire Terrier from Pasadena, California so just get over it, get to work, and expect that the ride is not going to be perfect.
Stop comparing yourself to others. You have a unique journey you are meant to fulfill.
The bad news is that you’ll never be able to achieve the kind of success that someone else has already achieved. But the good news is that no one else will be able to achieve the kind of success that you may potentially achieve.
So, focus on achieving the success that is only possible for you. Focus on succeeding in ways only you can succeed. Forget everybody else.
Detach yourself from the outcome.
Ask yourself to succeed in engaging in the process, and not in realizing the product.
In truth, what will come of your attempts to realize your dream is not really up to you. What is up to you is if you take the time today to try to make your dream a reality.
So don’t demand that you achieve great work, just demand that you will try to achieve great work.
Dream In Moderation
Dreaming is good, but just like with anything else, too much of it can be dangerous.
So make sure you dream in moderation. Dream, but be careful not to let that dreaming get in the way of you achieving those dreams. Dream, but don’t let dreams become your master.
Instead, be the master over your dreams.
Admit that living out your dream, and experiencing all the low octaves and high altos of the process, is a whole lot better than just imagining your dream, and allowing your life to play out like one, long, monotonous chord.