When I say dreams here, I don’t mean the thoughts you get during REM sleep (though, they might have a connection there somewhere), but rather the goals you want to achieve. Specifically big goals.
Let’s say your dream is to get your book number one on the New York Times Bestseller list. This is a pretty unreasonable dream. The chances of that happening are close to nothing. Is it worth keeping? Or is it just going to make you feel disappointed when you never reach it?
Dreaming big sets up expectations in yourself, giving you something that you will associate with success (in this case the NY Times Bestseller list). So when you don’t reach it, you will feel as if you failed because you couldn’t reach your self made goal. This is made worse by any time constraints you attach to it, such as ‘bestseller before I’m 30’. By giving yourself a point where an ultimatum must happen – either win or lose – maybe you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Does this mean we shouldn’t dream big? That we should only pursue small goals like writing a novel in 10 years?
I firmly believe that you should have something to aim for. By all means, set smaller goals so that you can feel success. But remember that you should always have something big to head towards, an oasis on the horizon if you will.
To have a target means that you will always aim for something. But it is pretty important that you leave it as a lifelong goal without a time limit, like ‘I want to have a book on the NY Times Bestseller list’. That means if you failed to get one book there, you’ll still have chances for as long as you live.
Technically, there is a time constraint for this too, since you only have time until the end of your life, but I think by that time you will have gained enough wisdom to realise that not all dreams are meant to be reached.
Some are only there to guide our path.