Big Dreams: Do you hold your big goals and dreams tightly or lightly?

Big DreamsThe importance of this question was brought home thunderously to me recently. I had always assumed that, if you have an important want, goal or dream, holding onto it tightly increases the chances of your achieving it. A personal story:

When I was visioning my non-work big dreams a few years ago, one want that still stands out in my memory was that I would walk the great hiking trails of the earth. I loved hiking. I had already walked part of the Appalachian Trail in the US and part of the Pilgrims Way in England. Then I had a stroke, and now six years later I can barely walk a block, and then only with a cane or walker.

Another love was flying. Three years ago I was making plans to build an ultralight aircraft and circumnavigate Canada flying the airplane I had built. That want came crashing down a year ago when I was denied renewal of my pilot’s license. I take solace in the fact that I have flown my own airplane across North America from Cape Cod on the Atlantic to Tofino on the Pacific.

I know intellectually that wants and dreams can abruptly derail, but I have found it very hard to let go of dreams of great adventure at a deeper level, as a heart level. Was I holding on too tightly?

This can happen in all areas of our lives. You may have envisioned a successful career with a particular company, then the company was sold and dissolved beneath your feet. Or you married with a view to the happiness of a lifelong love affair and children, only to find that you and your partner have gone in different directions emotionally, perhaps in part due to his evolving habit of daily drinking.

Life can change dramatically when one of your children dies. I know this through the hard experience of losing three of my adult children. No amount of wishing brings them back.

Big dreams and goals are great. They do help us stay on track with our lives, but holding them too tightly can be a trap when life throws us curves. So, perhaps the urging I give to myself may be of use to you as your life unfolds:

Lightly, Neill… lightly… lightly …

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Dr. Neill Neill retired his psychology practice at the end of 2013. He maintains an active coaching practice via telephone or Skype with select clients dealing with alcoholic husbands or ex-husbands. Check out his book, Living with a Functioning Alcoholic: A Woman's Survival Guide.

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