Finding and Following Your Dreams

By Alice Boyes, PhD. | Uncategorized

I’m writing this post from New York City. I’ve been on vacation here for 6 weeks or so – recharging my batteries (update: I’m back in Christchurch now).

I rarely use personal examples on this blog but in this post I’m going to, to illustrate a broader point about something that gets in the way of people having as much meaning, fulfillment, excitement, pride, and happiness in their lives as is possible.

Once a year, I sublet an apartment in New York, escaping from New Zealand winter for a dose of hot New York summer. Each trip is a wonderful, exciting, inspiring, relaxing, and happy. (Yes I know I’m lucky, lol)

I spend most of the rest of the year looking forward to these trips, and in fact, part of why I chose to start my own psychology practice is so I can take these long trips and have an experience that’s a lot like living in New York (I sublet apartments from NYers who are going on their own vacations so its very much like a typical NY apartment living experience).

I use the time I have in New York to reflect on what I’ve done in my life since I was last here and think ahead to my plans for the coming year. (I do these “reviews” quite often but my NY trips are when I have have the biggest chunk of time to think, and when I feel most inspired and relaxed).

Something I’ve been thinking about on this trip is that I’m not sure when I learned that temporary apartment sublets in New York were possible. I now know many, average income earning, folks who have done sublets or house swaps in various exotic parts of the world, but 6 years ago “subletting an apartment in New York for the summer” wasn’t one of my dreams because it wasn’t even on my radar screen of possibilities. I didn’t know it was an option.

If you’re interested: I can’t remember exactly how I learned how to arrange sublets but my winding path to that eventual outcome was a) actual travel that allowed me to experience what a profound effect being in New York had on my creativity and energy, which fueled my determination to spend long periods of time in the city, and b) lots of internet research related to my general “travel bug” about travel alternatives that fall between “vacations” and longer-term moving to other countries.

My point…

One of the big issues that creates stuckness in generally psychologically healthy people is that it’s impossible to even think of some of the things that, if you pursued them, would become some of the best experiences of your life. Often when we look out and try to see the possibilities for ourselves and our lives we can only see as far as the horizon but not past it. To see past your current horizon you need to sail out: you need to move in the direction of something – things you have an urge and interest in doing but for some reason haven’t (I’m going to write more in future posts about how to identify these things if you’re stuck at this step, but I’m sure you have interests and urges about what you think you might like, even if they’ve become forgotten or buried under other things, or were seeds of thoughts that never fully developed).

I’ve another post written for tomorrow about attaining life dreams but a small thought for today is:

Consider the large extent to which what we do today is determined by what we did yesterday e.g what you’ll do on your lunch break and when you get home from work is probably quite similar to what you did yesterday, or at least on the same day the previous week.

The start of figuring out and pursuing dreams is often when we do something that’s out of “our ordinary”.

It can be the smallest thing that starts the ball rolling.

You don’t necessarily need to start on a committed path to pursuing a long held goal. What I’m talking about is taking yourself off autopilot for anywhere from a moment to an hour to do something on a whim.

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