1. Dreams are our deepest and most dearly held hopes and aspirations. They have the power to inspire and consume us, capture our imagination, and create powerful change.
2. Dreams are more powerful than goals to fuel passion, and drive action and growth.
3. By dreaming BIG, then making small, consistent improvements, you can revolutionize your health and your life.
“If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.” - Walt Disney
Having worked with so many driven, high-achieving people during my career, I know one thing: promises and goals lack the power to change your life. We have to go bigger.
We have to dream.
Dreams inspire us and consume us. Dreams express our deepest hopes. Dreams capture our imagination. Dreams create powerful change.
Consider this story:
In 2010 and 2012 I attended the Olympic Games as a sport science analyst. I had some incredible experiences and saw some amazing performances. One in particular is etched in my memory. Early one morning during the 2010 Winter Olympics Slovenian cross-country skier Petra Majdic was warming up. Petra was one of the gold medal favourites in her event. But that morning everything went wrong. When she was coming around a corner she slipped and fell off an embankment. This seemingly minor accident was anything but. She had fallen in such a way that she broke her ribs. Her Olympic dream was at risk.
Despite this injury she went on to compete. Each time that she took a breath her broken ribs were scraping over each other. Every time she poled to drive herself forward the vibration forces would have transferred through her arms and torso. Her latissimus dorsi muscles would have been pulling on her rib cage. The pain must have been torturous. But she persevered anyway. She competed in her first heat, and then her second heat, qualifying for the semi-finals. In the semi-final she was fast enough to make it through to the final. Somewhere along the way one of the broken ribs punctured her lung and she suffered a pneumothorax, which is a technical term for a collapsing lung. Still she kept going. In the final she skied her way to a bronze medal.
There’s an iconic picture of her receiving her medal. Two medical personnel flank her on the podium. She refused to go to the hospital until she had been awarded that bronze medal.
After she had been stabilized in the hospital the media were finally allowed to interview her. One question and answer struck me as being life-changing in its importance. The interviewer asked Petra “How could you keep skiing through the heats, semi-final and final despite all that pain?” Petra’s answer was fascinating. She answered “The pain that I went through today to win that bronze medal was nothing compared to the pain that I have gone through training for 20 years to achieve my dream.”
She didn’t say “achieve my goals”, “reach my objective” or even “to win a medal”. She spoke of dreams. Which is very powerful. You see – dreams are more powerful than goals, despite goal setting being the traditional method for building motivation in humans. I realized at that moment that athletes, at least the great ones, use their dreams (which are more powerful than just goals) to fuel their passions and to drive action and growth.
The difference between goals and dreams is subtle but powerful. Petra Majdic used a skill she had developed as an athlete to overcome incredible obstacles and deliver a medal-winning performance that inspired the world. She thought about her dream when she was faced with a decision of whether or not to compete. She relied on the big picture – the vision that she had created when she was a child that she wanted to achieve. Her dream was to win the Olympics. That dream allowed her to compartmentalize the pain of her injury and focus on the performance that ultimately enabled her to complete the competition – successfully.
The same principles apply to almost everything in our lives. By making slight adjustments in the way that we act, think and feel we can move from average to iconic – just like Petra Majdic did. We can learn from people that have pushed the limits of human performance, health and achievement.
Dreams are powerful. They inspire us to new heights. Dreams are our deepest and most dearly held hopes and aspirations. Dreams capture our imagination. Dreams create extraordinary motivation and transformative change. They enable us to live differently.
When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood beneath the Lincoln Memorial at the pinnacle of the Civil Rights movement and inspired his listeners to action, he repeated a single phrase over and over again: “I have a dream.” He didn’t say “I have a goal” or “I have an objective”. His Dream changed the United States and the world.
By dreaming BIG, then making small, consistent improvements can revolutionize your health and your life.
If you really want to achieve something, you can dream yourself into doing it. Dream Setting is powerful. And it is the most effective way to change your life for the better.
The difficulty for most of us is that thinking of our personal and professional goals as dreams seems somehow hokey or silly. It’s not. Dreams are a powerful and effective way to motivate you to achieve more. And while some dreams are huge – like inventing a new technology or starting an organization from scratch – dreams can be as small as you want: running a 10 km race, sleeping more deeply, being more effective in your job, improving your body, overcoming an illness or learning how to play an amazing piece of music.
The key to living a world-class life and getting the most out of this time that we have in our lives is to make sure that we have dreams. We need something that powers us to do more. You need dreams that can drive you to be better. Dreams give you a flame in your heart that ignites passion. If you think about what athletes look like when they win – exhilarated, thrilled, excited, energized – you will have an image of what the fulfillment of a dream can do for us all. It gives us a chance to live life at a different level.
The critical defining feature of dreams is that they are about passion. If you really want to achieve something, you can dream yourself into doing it.
Today's POWER-UP: Dream Setting
OK team - it's time to set some dreams! Research shows that if you write down what you want to achieve you increase your chances of reaching your objective. Research also shows that if you tell someone else your chances get even higher. So let's jot down some notes about what you want to be, do or achieve.
You can use The Dream Setting Workbook. Or you can fill out the form below to send me your notes. This will help us to give you some tips and feedback on how you're doing.
Once you've set some dreams and goals, then tell people who you are close to. You'll be amazed at how people start to help you reach your dreams once you start putting them out into the world.
Dive Deeper: Dr. Greg Wells on Dream Setting at TEDxYork