Years ago, I was having a conversation with a very wise friend. I was lamenting how it seemed like I was living a small life where nothing very interesting happened. I wasn’t very happy. My friend asked me what my dreams were. I listed some common, expected things like getting a house, advancing at work, and maybe doing some traveling. My friend said, “Well, that’s your problem. Your dreams aren’t big enough.”
At the time I didn’t think much of her advice. It didn’t really register as anything more than words (which is a nicer way of saying I thought she was spouting some New Age BS). However, once I really reflected on it I realized she was right. My dreams weren’t big enough. I was aiming low in my life. My biggest ambitions at the time were to advance at a job I hated and to get a house. The first goal was just stupid and the second was boring. It was no wonder I wasn’t happy.
We all need dreams to keep us motivated and moving forward. Dreams are the things that give us a reason to get up every day. Dreams are the way we visualize what we’d like to be and my dreams were not only small, but the dream of advancing at a job I couldn’t stand was downright unhealthy. As long as those were my only dreams, I was never going to get out of my rut and move on to better things. If I wanted to be happier, I needed to dream bigger and then do everything I could to make those dreams come true.
My friend’s advice is true in every aspect of life, including financial matters. If your finances aren’t going well, maybe you need to dream bigger. Instead of dreaming of that $1,000 emergency fund, dream of the $10,000 fund. If you hate your job, don’t dream of getting a promotion, dream of finding a better job or starting your own business. Dream of paying off all of your debt rather than just paying off one credit card. Big dreams lead to big actions on your part.
Some people say that you shouldn’t dream big because you’ll just end up disappointed when you don’t achieve those dreams. But I think that if you don’t dream big, you’ll never even come close. Think about this: If you dream of socking away $10,000 in a savings account and you only get halfway, you’ll have $5,000. But if you only ever dream of saving $1,000 and you achieve that dream, you’re still $4,000 behind the dream you only met halfway. If you dream of getting a promotion at your current, hated job and you get it, you’re still stuck in a place you can’t stand. But if you dream of getting a whole new job that doubles your salary and where you work with really cool people and you only get the new job and cool people, you’re still in a better place than you were. Big dreams can only be disappointing if you don’t try to achieve them at all. Then they just become part of a long list of all the “coulda, shoulda, and woulda” you missed out on in your life.
Through the years I’ve followed my friend’s advice. Whenever I’ve caught myself dreaming small, I’ve asked myself if this is really the dream I want to aim for, or am I settling for something lesser because I think the bigger dream is unattainable. This has served me well. When it came time to look for a new job, I didn’t settle for the first offer I got. Instead I planned and saved and went out on my own. I’ve dreamed of great travels and I’ve achieved quite a few of them. I’ve run marathons. I stopped dreaming about just getting “a house” and changed that dream to buying a large plot of land and building my own home. That’s the big dream I’m working toward now and I’m probably two-thirds of the way there.
If you ever feel like your life (financial, romantic, family, or career wise) isn’t going the way you want it to, simply ask yourself if your dreams are big enough. If you aren’t dreaming big, chances are you’re selling yourself short. Your big dreams pave the way for success and a better life. Working toward your dreams makes your life better. Even if you don’t achieve 100% of your dream, achieving even half of it will put you in a better place than you were in before.