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Make Sure Dreams are Your Servant, and not Your Master

March 12, 2011 on 11:28 pm | In Dream Types | No Comments

In effective goal setting, using dreams to establish ideal outcomes is a critical step in creating the vision and purpose that become the building block for goals. When used that way, dreams are your servant.

But when the word dreams is mentioned, many people are turned off – to them dreams are a waste of time – a trip into fantasy. They feel dreams are not for the real world. They see dreams as taking away from action and accomplishment.

The line between dreams as the servant and dreams as the master is a thin one. Rudyard Kipling, in his masterpiece poem “IF ” wrote a verse that says “If you can dream, but not let dreams become your master….” Going even further, Cormac McCarthy, in his novel, “The Road” says: “When your dreams are of some world that never was or of some world that never will be and you are happy again, then you will have given up.”

You can think of dreams as a resource, a servant – a special place where you go to create thoughts that can serve as the first step to accomplishment. Or they can become your master – taking you to that soft, fuzzy place where you can escape from reality and think great thoughts that have a really low probability of ever happening. For most people, dreams are both a servant and a master.

How do you know if your dreams represent real possibilities, or are a place to escape from reality – to fantasyland? Do your dreams replace action – or do they create action and persistence to get through the tough times? The answer to those questions isn’t always so clear cut – sometimes our mind plays tricks on us.

Take the Lottery dream as an example. A New York Times article states that the dream of winning stimulates the same brain circuits as actual winning does. The article goes on to state that ” in brain imaging studies of drug users, as well as healthy adults placing bets, neuroscientists have found that the prospect of reward activates the same circuits in the brain that the payoffs themselves do.” It’s easy to keep the Lottery dream alive – just buy a ticket and keep those brain circuits buzzing. And at odds of 147,000,000 to 1 for each drawing of the Powerball Lottery, you may be a winner. Nothing wrong with taking that chance. At least not until the dream of winning the Lottery replaces dreams that have the potential for real action and accomplishment.

Realize that your conscious mind can only think about one thing at a time. Dreaming of never were’s and never will be’s uses up conscious thought at the same rate that thoughts of opportunities and accomplishments do. It’s when those never was, never will be dreams take up space better devoted to dreams of real world possibilities that dreams become a problem – when they become the master of time and energy.

Every minute spent on those kinds of low probability, low commitment, low risk, low investment dreams takes away from the time available to dream about real possibilities, solutions, tactics and strategies and rewards for accomplishment. Dreams that are the master do nothing to increase personal feelings of worth and ability – they do the opposite. By placing value on chance – as in the Lottery dream case – rather than personal accomplishment – they diminish beliefs of personal ability. And they are sneaky – often they become a habit of thought that just kind of happens – and they create a view of the world that isn’t at all accurate.

How to be sure your dreams are your servant – part of your real world – and not let them become your master?

Ask yourself these five questions.

1 – Do you find yourself thinking about the past – and how it could have been, should have been, or would have been different?

2 – Do your dreams take you away from the probable and the possible?

3 – Do you find yourself dreaming about a future that has no relationship to your life so far?

4 – Do you dream about being someone other than yourself ?

5 – Do your dreams require your “willful suspension of disbelief” ?

If you answered Yes to the questions, realize that dreams, at least part of the time, have become your master. And those dreams that are your masters take away from achieving success in the real world.

Choose to examine your thoughts and apply the five questions. It’s tough – particularly if dreams have been the master for some time. Be convinced that the conscious examination of dreams can and will lead to a more effective,successful life.

Andy Cox helps his clients select and develop teams and talent. He focuses on helping leaders and emerging leaders define and develop their skills and talents using goals. He can be reached at http://www.coxconsultgroup.com , or at acox@coxconsultgroup.com
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