Dream Big

A “dream catcher” is someone who encourages innovation and creativity and supports people in the realization of their dreams. Many years ago, we learned about a dream catcher named Dr. Ivan Scheier. During his long career, Dr. Scheier helped hundreds of nonprofit organizations and communities achieve their dreams. At the age of seventy-eight, he created Voluntas, a residential retreat aimed at stimulating creative, expansive, and practical dreaming about communities and volunteerism.

“A world in which people have no chance of achieving their dreams is not, to me, a world in which I would choose to live,” says Scheier. In his role as dream catcher, Scheier listened to hundreds of people with ideas, hopes, and inspirations who lacked the financial resources to bring their dreams to life. He developed some rules for dreamers that smart women can use in making their dreams come true:

  1. Realize that nothing happens right away. Stay with your dream and live close to your beliefs.
  2. Dreams usually don’t come about in the way you first visualize them. Don’t expect them to. Be open to new opportunities and ideas. Reality is too complicated, and surprise is half the fun!
  3. The only constants are your values. Keep compromise to a minimum on these, even when it comes disguised in nice names like team-building, negotiation, or consensus.
  4. Seek cooperators in your dream. Get your ideas out in the universe and see whom they inspire.
  5. Be flexible and uncompromising. Be as flexible about the implementation of your dream as you are uncompromising on the values of your vision. Avoid tight planning, and don’t let your plan become an end in itself.
  6. Money is never the main ingredient of dream achievement. Free yourself from major money needs insofar as it is reasonable and possible. The “if only I had the money” mind-set can result in neglect of other potentially more feasible approaches.
  7. Look backward, not forward. When you get the blues—and dreamers do—don’t look forward; look backward. Looking backward reminds you how many dreams have actually come true in your life, while looking forward only reminds you of the obstacles you face.

The Power of Dreaming

Ola Kizer wanted a college degree and, at the age of eighty-six, she finally got one by becoming the oldest undergraduate in more than 200 years at the University of Tennessee. Vowing never to return to the poverty she had known as a child, she figured the college degree would help her. “It is not going to be easy. If you are rowing, you couldn’t cross the ocean in one day. So stick with it and keep going.” Kizer knows the power behind dreaming.

Your dreams may not be as large and encompassing as Indira Gandhi’s to save her native country of India or as courageous as Amelia Earhart’s to take to the skies. You may or may not set your sights on inventing the next best-selling product or book, but your dream and your visions for your life are just as important. In fact, they are vitally important to your health and well-being.

Review Ivan Scheier’s seven suggestions. Pick one that is particularly timely or relevant for you and discuss it at your kitchen-table group. Perhaps it is number seven—the counter-intuitive idea that it is best to look backward rather than forward. Reviewing your history and tapping into your successes may be just what you need to help you forge ahead with determination