Every time we hold a BIG Dream Gathering, I meet at least one person who says, “I don’t know what any of my big dreams are. I’m just not sure what to write down as my big dreams or life goals.”
I can understand. I think we’ve all been there. Heck, maybe you’re there right now.
If so… maybe… like me… you can take a lesson from a tree that was in our front yard.
Here’s the story.
Late last fall, we had to cut down one of the trees because it had developed a nasty looking fungus.
Now, I’m kind of dangerous with power tools, so we had someone else do it.
The team we hired seemed professional, courteous and efficient. But as I watched them work, I started to wonder whether they had a personal vendetta against trees.
Seriously… these guys didn’t just cut down this tree… they annihilated it.
They took it down like a pack of rogue ninjas! They chopped. They split. They even ground the stump so deep into the ground that a few wood chips and our memories were the only evidence a tree once stood there.
There was nothing left. Our tree was history.
But a few weeks ago, when I went out to mow our lawn for the first time this spring, I came across a surprising discovery!
About a few inches from where the stump used to be… a row of little seedlings had popped up.
They stood in a line looking like young soldiers getting ready to march into battle.
They weren’t from the stump. They were from the roots.
That’s right. Even though our tree-cutter-down-guy and his pack of tree ninjas destroyed our Japanese maple and ground it into oblivion… the roots were fighting back!
Now, what does this have to do with us remembering and getting clear on our big dreams?
Well, I’m guessing that there have been a few times in your life when your dreams have been cut down like my front-yard tree.
Maybe it was it was when you were a kid and you shared a dream with a friend and they laughed instead of encouraging you.
Maybe it was when you were a teenager and you shared a dream and someone told you to “Get serious. You can’t make money at that.”
Or, maybe it was as an adult and your dream came to a crashing halt as the doors on your company closed for the last time.
I know those feelings. You may, too.
But to that… today… I say “What if?”
What if… our dreams… still lived?
What if the roots of those dreams were still growing deep down inside of us?
After working with thousands of people over these past few years, I’ve realized that this is how big dreams work.
Dreams have a root system that goes deep.
Sometimes you have to dig a bit to find them, but they are there.
So how do we do it?
How do we dig down and find the roots to some of our BIG dreams?
Let me offer you some steps:
Step 1: Start Digging
Start by asking questions. I’ll usually ask someone in this situation to ponder two simple but powerful questions.
- Question 1: What are 100 things you love to do?
- Question 2: What are 50 things you loved to do as a kid?
Then I suggest they give themselves permission to take some time to answer. The only guideline: no filtering what you write.
Step 2: Look For the “Roots”
After you’ve completed Step 1, go back and take a good look at your list. Remember, you’re looking for the root systems of your big dreams so look for themes.
Maybe you have a heart for adventure and travel, but you’d forgotten about that… or it’s gotten buried over time. If so, maybe it’s time to think about a big dream involving a trip somewhere. It doesn’t even have to be a huge trip… it might just be making time for a 3-day weekend! All BIG dream pursuits need to start with small but significant steps.
When one coaching client of mine did this exercise, she realized she loved solving puzzles as a kid. She remembered that this was why she had gotten into technology as an adult, because she treated software problems like they were puzzles. However, in recent years, she had moved into more leadership responsibilities and away from the “puzzle solving” that she’d enjoyed so much. She then put a plan in place to get back to some of the things she loved doing and her job satisfaction skyrocketed!
Step 3: Nurture the “Sprouts”
Look for places in your life where your big dreams might already be sprouting.
These might look different than you think.
The sprouts of our Japanese maple looked a lot different from the tall tree that once stood in our yard. But they were still a start.
What might “sprouts” look like?
A few years ago, we had someone come to the BIG Dream Gathering and she had a big dream of writing and performing music for kids. As she looked around for the “sprouts” of this budding big dream, she started to see that she was already in the children’s ministry at her church.
It was a small beginning, but she asked to help with the music. Then she started to write some original songs when the opportunity arose. Someone else asked her to come and play some songs for a child’s birthday party, and so she did. Again, this was a long way from a recording studio in Nashville or LA… but it was a sprout. So she jumped at the chance and it inspired her to write another song.
Those sprouts kept growing.
She didn’t quit her day job. But she kept looking for and nurturing those “sprouts.”
And they have grown. So much so that she just recorded her own CD filled with original music… and… get this… her kids were her back up singers!
Did a major label sign her? Nope. Not yet.
But she continues to nurture those “sprouts” and they are gradually growing into a tree that is impacting her family… and it’s teaching her kids to dream BIG too!
Dig in… look for the roots… nurture your sprouts… and just see what kind of BIG dreams grow for you!