I am an excellent dreamer. In my mind, I can picture all the good things I want for my life, all I want to do, all I want to accomplish, and all I want to be. I can map out a course from here to there and get extremely excited about the adventure. I can write each day’s tasks for reaching my higher goals on my planner for the upcoming month and make grand pronouncements about how life is going to change. And I can usually follow through for a few days, maybe even a few weeks. And then I get tired. I get tired of the work, of the intention required to reach a bit further each day, of the feeling of futility as I stumble through the unfamiliar, of having to steel my courage in the face of uncertainty and doubt. And I often find myself looking at other paths longingly, certain that a different path would bring me to my desired destination with fewer challenges. Sometimes I decide to give up altogether and head off on a different journey, one I think will be easier, only to discover that I heading for something I’m not really all that excited about reaching and need to go back to the path I was on before.
Knowing these things about myself and wanting to become better at not giving up when the going gets uncomfortable or frightening, I have begun to pay close attention to the people I see following their dreams through all the muck and mire that they encounter on their path. A few weeks ago, I ate breakfast at a restaurant recently opened by two of my friends. When I first met the husband of this husband-and-wife team over three years ago, the possibility of owning a restaurant was still just a dream. He had followed a few paths to reach his goal, only to be turned away at the gate. But he didn’t give up. He kept his mind and his heart open for new routes to his goal. Even when he finally found the one that led to his successful restaurant launch, though, the path was far from easy. I only have the faintest idea of all the obstacles he and his incredible wife and partner encountered and then had to overcome in order to open their own eatery and, knowing the tiny bit I do know, I am amazed by the power of their vision and their persistence in the face of all could have stood in their way and stopped them. And I count myself lucky to know them.
They are just two of the people I know who work towards their goals with a dogged determination that I want learn to cultivate better in my own life. I am surrounded by artists, ministers, entrepreneurs, business owners, teachers, doctors, farmers, writers, actors, and more amazing individuals, all with a vision for their lives and the willingness and tenacity to keep heading toward it no matter how many times they stumble, how frustrated they get, how fearful they are of the uncertainty that looms before them, or how many hours or years the journey takes. As my eyes have been opened, I see them everywhere. I watch them and learn from them. And I am inspired by their examples to not just dream, but do.