Why the best dreams are those you stumble into

You’ve seen those American Family commercials by now. The “If you can dream it, we can protect it.” These ones, specifically.

They always get me thinking about dreams. Now that I’m older and wiser, I have a few dreams. Walking my wonderful daughter down the aisle someday. Getting to be a Grandpa. Living either near an ocean or in the mountains at some point in my life. Simple — but wonderful — dreams.

But, it hasn’t always been that way. I haven’t always had dreams. In fact, when I was younger, I can’t really remember having any dreams. Sure, I dreamt of playing competitive golf at the collegiate level (that one actually came true…for a year). But, that wasn’t really a “dream” in the way the American Family people think of it.

Instead, I fell into my dreams.

For example…

I never really dreamt of getting married and having kids. It just wasn’t a huge priority for me when I was in my 20s. But, low and behold, along came my wife when I was 27. Once I met her, all that changed. Suddenly, I wanted to get married. I was dreaming of having kids. Next thing you know, I was LIVING my dream–except I had completely fallen into it.

Or, my business. That was never a dream of mine either. I never really considered myself a business owner or someone who could go out on their own. It just kinda happened. I needed a change — and the solo counselor role seemed like a good fit. I did a bunch of homework. Mapped a plan out. And, I jumped. And now, again, I’m LIVING my dream. But, it was never my dream to begin with — I completely fell into it.

My point? Sometimes the best dreams aren’t the ones you have when you’re 10 years old, gazing out at what life will be like when you’re 40.

Sometimes the best dreams are those you just kinda fall into.

The key is you have to be alert enough to take advantage when the opportunity presents itself.

Meeting my wife in 1998 — complete happenstance. But, once I met her, I took advantage. I basically stalked her for a month (she loves to tell this story, believe me).

Starting my business in 2009 — another product of a situation. I wasn’t challenged in my “day job.” I was looking for other opportunities. I saw a chance to build something for myself. I took advantage.

Sometimes life is weird like that. It’s not as much about those dreams you have when you’re younger that you hope you “achieve” when you’re all grown up. It’s most about reading the cues and taking advantage when opportunity presents itself.

So I guess my advice from all this is this: Don’t fall asleep at the wheel. Life is constantly giving you signals. Cues from which you can either learn and capitalize on. Or, cues that you will continue to ignore, and as a result, flounder at your own discretion.

Do yourself a favor. Pay attention to your life. Read the cues.

You might be surprised what kinds of dreams they can lead to.

This post was written by Arik Hanson and originally published on Communications Conversations. Follow Arik on Twitter: @arikhanson.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 10/06/2014 - 12:02 pm.


    It sounds like the author is doing less dreaming and more meeting the norm of societal expectations.

    I think a better way to phrase it is to makes plans as you go through life and be alert to new opportunities as they arise. A ten year old kid has no flippin’ clue as to what the world is about, which is why you see so many boys say they want to be a fireman or policeman. It sounds exciting and that’s all they know from TV, so that’s what they go with.

    Keep your head up, arms and legs churning, and eyes open for new opportunities. There will always be people who say “haw haw haw! Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.” But what they forget is that life happens even if you make no plans. It’s better to always keep moving forward and spot those opportunities when they present themselves.

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