What if you Don’t Know What Your Dream Is?

dontknow
I get this question a lot.

And I think it’s a lot less about “What if” and more about “Why don’t I know what my dream is?” and probably more importantly “Where can I find my dream?“.

If you don’t have a dream and don’t care about not having a dream – well then you probably aren’t reading this anyway.

If you don’t have a dream and you do wish you had one – I believe that wish for a dream is actually a sign that you do have a dream… it’s just buried under some other stuff right now.

Plus – I’m going to share some possible scenarios of what could be happening here and some ideas for what to do with them:

Scenario 1: You know what your dream is, but you are scared to admit it to yourself or to others.

This is completely understandable!  Having a dream is scary.  Having a dream and going after it means everything could change.  Having a dream and going after it means taking big risks.  By not admitting that you have a dream, you can avoid all of this change and risk and uncomfortable stuff.

And yet – well, it’s still uncomfortable, isn’t it?

In avoiding change and risk you also avoid the joy of the dream come true.  You avoid the adventure and excitement of the creative dream path.  And mostly you avoid doing the thing you really want to be doing.

Your dream isn’t a superficial thing.  It’s important.  It comes from your heart and your soul.  It’s tied to your purpose for being here on this planet.

Avoid the dream and it will not go away.  It will only grow more and more difficult to avoid.

But all that stuff you are avoiding?  It’s real too.  And it’s scary.  Pretending it’s not there is not a good plan.

What may work here: Admitting it very quietly by writing it in your journal.  Start to give the dream just a little bit of space.  You don’t have to tell anyone else about it and you certainly don’t have to do anything about it.  Just give it some space to be and see what comes of that.  Baby steps.

Scenario 2: You know what your dream is, but don’t believe that you can have it, so it’s kind of uncomfortable to think about it.

Awww.  First I just want to give you a hug.

Everything I said above about your dream is true:

Your dream isn’t a superficial thing.  It’s important.  It comes from your heart and your soul.  It’s tied to your purpose for being here on this planet.

And also:

Avoid the dream and it will not go away.  It will only grow more and more difficult to avoid.

That last part is even more true in this case.  Your dream is really important and it is asking you to work through your fear that you don’t deserve it or can’t have it for some reason.  It is asking you to believe.

What may work here: Asking “What if?”  What if it was ok for me to pursue this dream?  What If if was ok for me to have this dream?  And some gentle journaling about deserving – What do I think I deserve? What would have to happen in order for me to believe I deserve more?

Forcing yourself to go after your dream won’t be helpful here, working on changing your mind about what is possible for you will be helpful.  Taking some slow baby steps towards your dreams may be helpful too – sometimes that “I don’t think I can have it” starts to fade when it sees evidence that you really can have it.

Scenario 3: There is so much that you want to do, that you can’t pick just one to identify as “your dream”.

Well this is actually a fantastic situation to be in, even though it doesn’t always feel like it.  I really believe it’s better to have too many ideas than too few – I always have waaaaaay more ideas and dreams than I can possibly work on.

Sometimes this “I have so much I want to do I can’t commit to one thing” is just a way of sabotaging yourself, usually due to one of the fears mentioned above, so you may want to check those out and see if any of the ideas there feel like they may be helpful to you.

If that’s not it, then what is happening here is a bottleneck.  Too many ideas, too little time/resources and nothing can get through.  You relieve the bottleneck by choosing some dreams to work on now and putting the other dreams aside for now.

If the thought of putting some dreams aside makes you freak out a little: look at what is really happening here – the bottleneck is essentially putting all of your dreams aside because none can get through.

If you focus on one or two dreams for now, and actually bring them to life, then it becomes much easier to go back to those other dreams and bring them to life as well.  With each dream come true you become more experienced at bringing dreams to life and you open up new possibilities for how to bring your dreams to life.

But still, choosing can be hard.

What may work here: Asking yourself Which dreams am I most passionate about? can help to narrow it down.  If you start to work on the dream that you are most passionate about – all of that passion can help to make it happen faster, so you can get back to the other dreams.

Or you can ask Which dreams feel the easiest to work on right now? which is, of course, the easier way to go.  Pick the low hanging fruit.  Start with the easy dreams and work your way up.  It could be that nothing feels easy but something is bound to feel easier than the others.

It can be hard to put some dreams aside. I have a notebook that I put all of my ideas and dreams in.  This way it doesn’t feel like they are lost, they are waiting for their right time to be brought to life.

And sometimes, because creative dreams are magic, those dreams sitting in the notebook come true all on their own.  Because they’re been taken out of the bottleneck!  Dreams stuck in a bottleneck tend to not come true.

Scenario 4:  You really just don’t know what your dream is:

Ask yourself: If I could have anything you want, what would it be? If you had no limits.  None at all.

Where would you live?  How would you live?  What would you do?  How would you spend your days?  How would you feel?  What kinds of hobbies would you have?  What would your social life be life?  Your romantic life?  Your finances?  Your health?  Your creativity?  Your spirituality?

Somewhere in all of that there must be something you dream of.  Something you want to build in your world.

Your dreams are about so much more than wanting things to be different than they are.  Your dreams are how you express your purpose and authenticity and uniqueness.  Your dreams are healing.  Your dreams can make a huge difference.

Plus, you don’t have to know what your dream is before you start working on it!

I know, that sounds kind of crazy but it’s true.  You can make finding your dream the dream you work on!

I’ll show you how in my free course: Dream Lab.  You can read more about it here, or sign up in the purple bar at the bottom of your screen.


27 Comments

  1. Molly on January 26, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Andrea, this is the most perfect and well timed blog post ever! I confess I’ve been skipping a lot of creative, dream related blogs lately because I’ve been so stuck. I don’t know what my dream is! But this post is really going to help me, I know it. In fact, I think it may have already helped me realise that what I actually want is completely different from what I thought! Thank you!!

    M x



  2. andrea on January 26, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Yah Molly! I am so glad it is helpful.

    It can be really easy for Creative Dreams to get all tangled up and then we feel stuck.



    • annie on November 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      this is good well i dont actually have any other coment i just need help i am 13 and i dont have a dream and i dont know what i want to do when i grow up ,i want to find a dream but i dont know what and how please can you help me how do i find a dream?



  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jamie Ridler, Andrea Schroeder. Andrea Schroeder said: What to do when you can't find your dream: http://bit.ly/g25j9b […]



  4. Dan Goodwin on January 26, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Really enjoyed this Andrea, it’s packed with useful advice.

    I loved this line especially – “Sometimes this “I have so much I want to do I can’t commit to one thing” is just a way of sabotaging yourself, usually due to one of the fears mentioned above”

    I think that happens in many areas of life, we keep ourselves “busy” on the surface with not very important stuff to avoid facing the deeper, life-changing stuff we could (and would) be doing instead if we got clear about what we really wanted and went for it.



  5. Jenn on January 26, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Andrea, this is really really good!
    I think I am definitely an avoider.. and bottleneck a lot.. self-sabotage.. I am so passionately lately I want to do everything at once and get frustrated trying to focus on one thing at a time..
    thanks for sharing this! hugs, Jenn



  6. Mindy on January 26, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Love this post Andrea! Especially these lines, “I believe, fully and completely, that we can’t even have a dream if we are not capable of making it happen. And that we are not alone in this and that we have a lot more support than we realise.” I think I will post that above my work space – LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!! Thank you for the beautiful reminder of the power of our dreams!

    Namaste,

    Mindy



  7. Pam on January 26, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    I have been fighting with this for such a long time — what am I passionate about? What do I want?? — and still coming up blank.
    I think that I am likely in scenario #2 — I think that deep down I KNOW what I want to do, but I don’t believe I can have it, I don’t trust that if I make the effort that at the end of my journey I won’t still be sitting there going “That wasn’t really what I wanted, what is my dream”… and yet I have so many things I THINK that I want that I am not entirely sure that I know which is the one that will truely be my DREAM.

    I am so stuck… I often feel like i’m caught in a web



  8. Anna on January 26, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    I know what it is. My dream. For twenty years it has been there and I have always chosen other paths. Avoided the Dream. I am now a teacher in math.

    My big dream is: Art school.

    Two years ago I sent in the application and was accepted! Guess how happy I was!! At the same time I got a job I really wanted. So I took the job. I talked to the school and they accepted that I started a year later. Did I do this? NO! I did not dare. There it is. The truth. I want to but do not dare to… :o)

    The problem:
    1. I do not see “the goal” with the school. I know a lot of people that has attended the school and then nothing happened. It was the best years of their lives BUT then nothing.
    2. I have a family, A husband and two children. A house. A car. I already have an education. What I should do is get a job and start bringing in the money.
    3. What if I cannot do it? What if they say that I am bad at it? Then my Dream is wasted…

    :o)



  9. jessica on January 26, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Andrea,

    Thank you for this – I know what my dream is, and have even taken steps to get there, but I often get side-tracked by all the other things that seem more “important.” (Laundry, scrubbing dishes, toilets, dogs, kids, etc. – and yes, I *do* mean scrubbing them all!) ;-)

    I can now notice when I have not been spending enough time working towards my dream because I feel it in my gut. my soul aches.

    thank you for the reminder of the importance of taking those steps – a small one every day can – and does – make a difference!



  10. Tesa on January 26, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Andrea, Great Post – so Appropriate- I have so many dreams it’s been hard to focus you’ve given me the courage and tools to focus on Just one dream- Thank you



  11. Jenna on January 26, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Talk about timing! I’m definitely #3, kinda know my dream but in pursuing it lots of other little dreams have popped up and I want to do them all. Just yesterday I had to tell myself to let one go for awhile and try to concentrate on some others. If I just didn’t have to work at my ‘regular’ job I’d have the time!, but then not the money…decisions, decisions!! Thanks for a great post!



  12. Jo-Anne on January 26, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Andrea, thx for sharing your wisdom & keeping the creative thinking juices flowing. You always give me a lot to think about. Glad I remember I always have choice about what I do, or don’t do. ;0)

    Anna, congratulations on putting all of that out there. ;0)

    What if “the goal,” or pupose of dreams is to make us happy, even if it’s to be able to say to ourselves that I tried? I look back on my life & have accomplished a lot. I’ve also done a lot that I no longer continue doing. I have a deep satisfied feeling within me, knowing I tried all that I wanted to, no matter how it turned out. I don’t wonder what it would have been like.

    So, I will keep dreaming, do what I can, & know that’s good enough. If I want more, I’ll stay tuned for more thought provoking wisdom from Andrea. ;0)



  13. Sharon on January 27, 2011 at 1:34 am

    There is definitely no such thing as ‘coincidence’ ~ things come along in our lives for a reason and this post is one of those things!

    I struggle with ‘so many things to try, so little confidence to even start’ and this applies not only to my creative life but my life as a whole. I was so shaken by scenario 4:

    ‘ Ask yourself: If I could have anything you want, what would it be? If you had no limits. None at all.

    Where would you live? How would you live? What would you do? How would you spend your days? How would you feel? What kinds of hobbies would you have? What would your social life be life? Your romantic life? Your finances? Your health? Your creativity? Your spirituality?’

    It actually stopped me in my tracks (I was munching breakfast at the time LOL) and I just stared at the screen, turning over those words in my mind. I admit that despite signing up for your emails Andrea, I have been studiously ignoring them *blush* Finally, though, here I am; I’ve been ‘caught’ ~ in a totally good way ~ and this is something that I can’t ignore. This comes at a time when I feel that ‘something’ is changing about my life; I will be 50 in June and the realisation that I am undoubtedly well over halfway through my life has hit home in a big way (I’m not being morbid, just realistic!). Perhaps I’ve reached some sort of ‘tipping point’ in my life and this has at last pushed me over the edge onto a path of discovery.

    So thank you, Andrea, for this post and for being so in tune with the universe!



  14. Molli Gould on January 27, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Thank you so very much for posting this Andrea! It’s a wise and beautiful post with so much insight. I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments as well:)

    Scenario 3 described my situation perfectly and I loved the advice and the image of dreams in a bottleneck. I’ve learned that part of it for me was self sabotage thoughts of not being able to have a dream picture perfect right away and guilt that I wasn’t working on my dreams–and that guilt leading me to further avoid taking the steps to make my dreams come true. I was viewing taking a baby step towards making one dream happen as insignificant and so I was stuck and took no steps. So I felt stuck.

    But if you take baby steps you bring in energy and movement into your dreams. I’ve been surprised also that when I step towards the dream and lift it up a bit, I see that it’s attached to a web of roots which are connected to my other dreams! So in taking a step with one dream I’ve actually stepped towards my other dreams without planning on it! The universe has a way of meeting you half way and giving back the energy you put into your dream twofold.

    Molli



  15. andrea on January 27, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Yah! Thanks for all of the fantastic and thoughtful comments! I may use some of them for future Creative Dream Q&A posts.

    You Guys Are The Best.

    Hi Dan! Yes, it can be really easy to hide in “busyness” in all parts of our lives.

    Hi Jenn. I totally hear you on the frustration of focusing on one thing at a time!

    Hi Mindy, I love the thought of you printing that out and putting it up where you can see it. It is so true but so easy to forget.

    Hi Pam. I think if you look more at what you believe you can have, and work on building that up – the rest of it will become a lot clearer.

    Hi Anna. That #3 is The Worst! That one held me back for a long time too, and I will definitely write a whole post about it at some point.

    Hi Jessica. Yah to small steps! They really are the best way to get there.

    Tesa you are so welcome.

    Hi Jenna. Yes! There is a real balancing act that has to happen there. Sometimes jobs are so nurturing because they bring in money for the dream, and sometimes they just get in the way.

    Hi Jo-Anne. I bet you are right! I think our dreams are just calling us to live in alignment with our souls.

    Hi Sharon. Sounds like you are in the perfect place to start to give your dreams more space and attention. That is so beautiful and I am looking forward to seeing what happens next for you.

    Hi Molli. That is so beautiful! The roots are all connected so everything you do for one nourishes the whole. That is a really good way to look at it.



  16. janna on January 27, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    WOW! How perfectly timely, Andrea. Thank you so much for this post. I have been struggling for the past several weeks with feeling overwhelmed and tugged and like I should be doing ‘X’ when I really felt like doing ‘Y’. Now I see the bottleneck I have been creating…and therefore getting not much done in any direction. How great it feels to realize that it’s okay to give myself permission to set aside some of these dreams, knowing that their time will come….and to alllow myself to focus fully on one or two things that I am really passionate about currently. And thank you for showing me that it’s actually a great place to be in to have too much, instead of looking at it as being scatter brained and chaotic and undecisive. Your way is oh, so much more possitive.



  17. holly -uk on February 1, 2011 at 5:14 am

    this was fantastic andrea, thankyou, full of beautiful wisdom……..i definetly suffer with the “i have so many interests i dont know what to choose – very indecisive”. i suppose its a good dilemma really to have so many passions! makes you more of an interesting person!!!
    i hope you do more of these question and answers, because they are sooooooooo helpful to us!! you have the best wisdom and advice ive ever found online….you really are such a great encouragement and you do it so gently and softly, you always encourage self love and that is just so wonderful. you are never ever negative, all you give is love…..and you always send out such beautiful encouragement……so thankyou…….x



  18. andrea on February 4, 2011 at 9:18 am

    You are so welcome Janna! I love that feeling of relief when you give yourself permission to set a few dreams aside to fully focus on other dreams – knowing that you can come back to those dreams any time!

    Thank you so much Holly. And yes I am going to keep doing the Creative Dream Q&A posts…



  19. Uppasana on May 18, 2011 at 7:13 am

    Hey Andrea ,

    This was really touching . Your post gave all the answers to my questions . How can we be so blind :) These are the simplest things that may be we already know but somehow don’t wanna work on it .. Your words are really inspiring and I’ve made it a point to write it in my journals …

    Warm regards,
    Uppasana



    • andrea on May 18, 2011 at 8:25 am

      That’s wonderful Uppasana!



  20. Brandon on June 6, 2012 at 6:36 am

    Thank you Andrea for taking the time to write these words, they are a beacon and a wake-up! I really resonated with what you said about one’s dreams: “Your dreams are how you express your purpose and authenticity and uniqueness. Your dreams are healing. Your dreams can make a huge difference.” Although I have not yet unearthed my core passions, I feel you have shed light on some of the reasons why the dirt is so thick. For me, discovering my passions and manifesting them into dreams that HEAL is my highest intention. I look forward to working with this material and learning more from you :D

    Warm Thanks,
    Namaste,
    Brandon



  21. Vikram on June 29, 2012 at 11:59 am

    This is really helpful……………gud job done



  22. Crystal on December 15, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Ok. i have no idea what my dream is and i need help to find it. someone, please…help me. i watch lots of inspirational movies but it doesn’t help. so someone please help me figure it out. these things are a couple of dreams i like:

    Surfing, dancing, singing, helping kids out, fighting, and i dont know what else i feel like im leaving something big outside of my heart and i cant find it. im only 14 but someone please help me.



  23. Keith on December 23, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    It seems to me that a goal is an idea which I possess and a dream is an idea that possesses me. I confess that I am not possessed…at least, not by a dream. The closest I can come to being possessed by an idea is this: My dream is to again or for the first time, dream a dream that so possesses me that I can’t eat or sleep.



  24. j on February 28, 2013 at 10:27 am

    I have a dream… but I’m too afraid to pursue it..



  25. Coco on March 30, 2013 at 6:01 am

    I have no dream! That’s is really too terrible. I am looking for a job which i like or at least not hate to do now. So the dream thing comes out again. It bothers me. Can’t i just be a common people who have harmonious family, healthy and be happy??? I hate to do career plan, but i have to if i want to have good career development trial.



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