“I'm just a dreamer. I dream my life away. I'm just a dreamer who dreams of better days.”
We can be so romantic about things. Take dreams, for instance. A dream is like a magnet. Once we set our hearts and minds on something, we're happily drawn to pursue. You hear it all the time: Pursue your passion! Chase your dreams! So by opening up this discussion of how we dream, I hope no one thinks that I'm pooh-poohing dreams to any degree whatsoever. They're wonderful, these dreams. I think dreams are very important.
Yet I noticed something recently that I found very interesting. I don't think we all dream the same way. It made me wonder if there wasn't something to learn about how to dream. To me, a lot of dreaming comes down to imagining a goal. I see something in my mind's eye, a desirable endpoint, for example; and then I imagine what it would be like to experience that, and then I develop a route to it in my mind. It's like a mini fantasy. Unfortunately, it's a private thing. No one else experiences it or sees the route I do or even wants it sometimes. But never mind that! It's my dream. If I want it to become someone else's dream, well, that could be a problem — but it doesn't mean the dream has to die.
OK. There. I said it. Dreams die. I hate that part. That's the sad part of dreaming. Sometimes they die because they aren't shared by someone else and you have to move on. But do they also die for lack of attention?
I have a dream. I would love to have my family members together at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and/or Easter to celebrate like we used to at my grandparents' house many moons ago. Already, you can see the problem with my dream is that it depends on all my family members to share that dream in order for it to come true the way I dream it. It's a logistical nightmare to say the least; but the fact is that, as much as I enjoy the dream, I can't seem to make it happen. Too many moving parts and not enough means to put it together yet. Yes, I can continue to dream about it, and I will — even though the endpoint may have changed. But when I spend time in the dream, it feels more like a waste of time because it's not something I can make happen yet. Last year, a holiday celebration with family would have included a trip to Afghanistan, for example.
In the six years since I met my DH, Terry, it's become clear that this is one way we dream differently. Even though there are things that prevent some of his dreams from coming true yet, he still spends a lot of time pursuing all the nuances of them. I had to understand why because if I spent that much time on my dream, I think I would become depressed at how improbable it is. Not so with Terry. I share his dreams, so that isn't a hurdle for him — but he spends a lot of time in what I call “research mode.” When I asked him about it, I started to understand that he is amassing this enormous body of knowledge about his dreams — how to do it, how much it costs, where to find it. The list goes on and on. When the circumstances around his dreams fall into place, he will have put himself in a better position to actually reach the dream than I have.
Does this pertain to personal finance? I think it does. Terry and I are at the same point in our dreams. Neither of us can execute them at this point. In the meantime, we're busy trying to make our circumstances align to where we can execute them, i.e., we actively manage our finances in support of pursuing our dreams. But for my dreams, I don't spend much time considering the specifics. I do try to reach out to and stay in touch with family members so that some day we can come together. But I wonder if Terry's approach wouldn't be better. Will my dream simply die from lack of attention? If our circumstances aligned and we could start taking action to pursue our dreams, will I be unable to execute mine simply because I haven't done enough legwork?
Dreams can take us on amazing journeys in life. But given how quickly things can change (as they did for this family), do you manage your dreams so as not to waste your resources or do you get very specific so that you have a better chance of reaching your dreams when the tide changes?