My Big Dream
My wife and I were baseball nuts before our son was born. We went to 10-15 games per year. Then we have a son who LOVES baseball. I’ll never forget the time when he was 8 years old and his mom asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He quickly said, “a professional baseball player.” My wife then asked him, “what if that doesn’t work out? What else do you want to be?” With no hesitation, our son looked her in the eye with unequivocal determination and said, “I WILL be a professional baseball player.”
We then did the regular stuff: little league, and Club Ball (those were the days when you had to be really good to be invited on a club team). He went on to win several championships and personal awards all the way through high school. I won’t bore you with all of the accomplishments.
After HS he was drafted by the SD Padres; then was rated as the best defensive catcher in the minor leagues and last Sunday, at 22, he was called up from AAA to the Big Leagues. Yes. Today (May 4th) he is a Major League Baseball Player and will start his first game against the SF Giants on May 6th.
Enough. The 18 year old dream has come true, Now what??
The Psychological Stages of Accomplishing a Dream
In four days I have experienced elation, shock, depression, and fear. If you notice, all of these emotions are “extremes.”
How often has that happened to you? You got your dream job, married your perfect spouse, bought the house of your dreams, took the vacation you’ve always wanted, broke an addiction, your kids graduated college and have become so mature that you don’t recognize them. I could go on and on.
Just as there are the stages of grief, I think there are at least four stages of accomplishing a dream:
- Elation. This occurs when the dream first comes true. You party. You call everyone you know. You run around “like a chicken with its head cut off.” You are a total nut.
- Shock. After the great news, you wake up the next day like a zombie. I sure did. I could not figure out what to do. My brain went dead. I could not figure out what to do—get dressed, fly to San Francisco, or go on like a normal day (yea, sure!!). I suddenly realized I was in total shock. Incapacitated.
It happens to you too. You’ve been dreaming this dream for years and now it comes true. I heard a story (probably apocryphal) that after he won the presidency, Bill and Hillary Clinton woke up the next morning and just started laughing. I totally get it. They were in a deep sense of shock.
- Fear. Then the fear hits. What if my son plays poorly, what if his teammates think he’s too young, what if he handles money unwisely, what if he’s sent back to the minors (actually, most are)? How will he take it if it doesn’t turn out perfectly? No parent wants to see his or her child in pain!
The exact same thing happens to you. You worry that you might not have selected the right spouse, you have buyer’s remorse over the house you just bought, you fear your dream job might actually suck or people won’t like you at your new job… Worry is so natural! It might even be our MOST natural tendency.
- Normalizing. Then, hopefully, the actual time comes. A week, a month, not long and you figure out pretty much what reality is about to become. It’s a new reality. One filled with new joys and new challenges. It’s about normalizing change. We’ve all been there and you know what? It almost always turns out okay… often even better than okay.
Then, guess what? It starts all over again. A new dream and a new hope and new opportunity to change your world and the world around you.
I’ve just told a very personal story. I hope you don’t think I am bragging. I’m really not. It happens to be a big, big deal in our family.
But the message is for all of us who want to make a difference on this planet. We dream about change and we dream about playing some role in that change. If you are tenacious, you will most likely succeed. (It’s hard to succeed at Big Dreams without “big effort”.)
On to the Next
So… Now What? I have a handful of ideas. I’ve had several dreams come true in life and I’ve also failed. I know both sides well.
- Allow Yourself to Experience the 4 Stages of Accomplishing Your Dream. Like it or not you will go through the four stages (or something like it). Let it happen. Bring it on! It’s part of our nature. It’s the way our minds have learned to deal with “big time good things.”
- Focus on Normalizing. This is when you truly reap the benefits. You embrace the good and accept the setbacks that are only natural. You become just what you are – a very fortunate person who gets to do or be what they’ve dreamed of. And then… love it. Soak in the joy that God has given. Important: Ignore the negative thoughts. They suck; they rarely come true; and they are just unnecessary annoyances.
- Start the Next Dream. One thing crazy people like you and me don’t do: we don’t settle. There is always another dream—personal or philanthropic. Just because my son made it doesn’t stop me from moving forward on my 3 or 4 major dreams.
In summary, totally embrace and be present in the “today”, while at the same time working diligently on creating a new and better future. Change the world!