You Own It
It took entirely too long but you’re finally living your big dream. It’s finally here. You made it official, jumped off the cliff, changed your job title on Facebook and shredded the last of your old business cards. And you’ve never felt freer. You’re floating out on an open sea now, baby! Woo hoo! The possibilities are circling like a playful dolphin pod. Life couldn’t be better… although… it hasn’t been easy. It’s been downright frightful at times. You’ve had a few anxiety attacks. Okay, maybe more than a few. And the bottom number in your bank account has grown heavy… like a baby T-rex chewing steroids.
The problem is your big bodacious dream is undefined. This sea is a bit too open, and much of it feels out of your control. I mean, could those dolphins actually be sharks? What will you do if it rains? What will you do when a storm hits? Build a dolphin raft? So…
You Define It
Enough of this living in the unknown! You take a seat at your planning table with your crafting box and draw your dream: the huge checks, the expanding reach, the success, rapid expansion, franchising, a virtual assistant, a real world assistant and a Louis Vuitton briefcase. You color it in (no crossing the lines) shades of orange and green with absolutely no purple. No matter what, your dream will never allow even a hint of purple. It’s so clearly defined now even God’s Littlest Helper could carry it out.
You Work It
Night and day you’re focused on the plan. You wake up thinking about it, scramble it in your eggs, pump it into your tank, buy it off the shelf, gulp it down, type it up and tuck it in. Everyone tells you it’s going to be hard work but you’ve never been afraid to give your big bodacious plan everything you’ve got.
You Bake It
But God’s Littlest Helper is not helping enough. Your dream is not going according to the plan! So you work even harder. For the love of a vision board, you’re wearing orange and dreaming in green now! How much more effort does a plan need to succeed?
Then someone calls to offer you a grand purple opportunity. Purple? Didn’t you make it quite clear there would NEVER be purple in this plan? Then someone else emails, “Would you like to splatter vibrant blue across the whole thing?” NO! NO! NO! There’s only a dab of blue in one corner and there was no mention of splattering when you made your plan. Ring, ring. “What would you think about breaking these lines on the left? We could just leave them open, you know, like they’ve been shattered.” Shattered? Did she just utter the word shatter and your grand life plan in the same context?
What is wrong with everyone? Can’t they see you clearly have yellow and green in this plan? Can’t they see the defined lines? If anyone knows how this dream is going to play out it’s you, you, you! No more phone calls, emails, texts. You go to your crafting box, grab all the purples, blues and erasers and neatly pile them in your chiminea. Then you set it on fire. Your forehead wrinkles and lips press as the embers of all those unnecessary opportunities cool to black ash. Why is this so hard? No one said living your dream was going to be this hard.
Because you’re no longer living your dream. You’re living your plan.
You Shrunk It
I leapt into my dream on August 15, 2003 and I’ve been very blessed to witness and support hundreds of others who have leapt into theirs. From what I’ve seen the biggest mistake people make after they’ve taken on their dream is to define it. They box it up until they’ve cut off all the creative oxygen. Their poor dream withers up and dies from a fatal case of Shrinky Dink Syndrome.
Do you remember when shrinking plastic came out? I do. My babysitter gave each of us a 5-by-7 plastic sheet with a pre-printed picture of the nursery rhyme characters. I picked Little Bo Peep, who I colored in, doing my second grade best to stay in the lines, with the eight colored markers provided in the set. Then we put it in the oven and watched my 5-by-7 creation shrink to a 1 by 1.4 charm. Magic!!
Only it wasn’t magic. It’s a chemical reaction between the molecules in the plastic and the heat. It wasn’t magic the way your dream shrunk either. It was simply a reaction between your expectations and Universal energy. Your dream started with some magic but all of that disappeared the moment you boxed it between lines. Defining your dream set limits upon it; removing it from that open, uncontrolled, magical space that scares all of us. The real problem is not how expansive that sea is, but that we can’t comprehend it on a human level. The Universe’s plastic sheet is longer than your imagination, wider than your intentions and higher than your expectations. We have this crazy compulsion to cut a 5-by-7 square out of the Universal sheet and define our dream in lines and colors. Shrinky Dink Syndrome takes over when we convert our dream into a well-defined plan. Eventually it shrinks down to a teeny, tiny 1-by-1.4 inch charm that’s easy to wear around our neck, tuck under our pillow, shower with… and collar ourselves with. In our need to keep our dream safe we end up cutting away God’s working space. And now you’re angry, flustered and exasperated that someone has the nerve to suggest you shatter what little you have left? So…
You Shatter It
It’s not that we can’t draw our dream on the Universal sheet. Go ahead, show God how magnificent you imagine it will be, but then you’ve got to accept how small your view is compared to that Universal sheet. A good deal of it is out of your control. Embrace the unknown and unexpected. When we leave room for the mystery we allow room for our dream to expand.
I want you to break some lines, erase others completely, and color over a few others. The next time someone calls with a purple marker I want you to say, “Yes please!” The next time you find a can of blue paint and a brush gift-wrapped on your front porch I want you to throw a SPLATTER party, baby. If someone hands you glitter glue, don’t ask how much, just SPARKLE. The best way to avoid Shrinky Dink Dream Syndrome is to leave your dream undefined.