“In bad times and good, I have never lost my sense of zest for life.” – Walt Disney
Walt Disney was the ultimate visionary. Like all other visionaries, he dared to walk down unchartered territories and constantly challenge himself to push the envelope in his creative endeavors. His visions inspired him to achieve breakthroughs that brought substantial progress to the global community.
Walt had an enthusiastic and vivacious disposition, which he expressed in both his personal and professional lives. His unquestioned loyalty to his wife Lillian and his two daughters, Diane and Sharon, were exemplary. He always said that he received a great deal of sustenance and tranquility from his family life. Yet it took him some time to mellow out from his naturally zealous temperament.
In one of his interviews in 1931, right after Mickey Mouse was born, he spoke of a couple of times in his life when he had reached “the end of his rope”:
“I guess I was working too hard and worrying too much. I was expecting more from my artists than they were giving me, and all I did all day was pound, pound, pound. Costs were going up; each new picture we finished cost more to make than we had figured it would… so I cracked up. I became irritable and I couldn’t sleep. I reached a point where I couldn’t even talk over the telephone without crying. I was an emotional flap.”
In an interview after his death in 1966, his daughter Diane explained that her father’s grievances were due to an “acute attack of perfectionism”. In fact, most big dreamers and achievers are vulnerable to severe bouts of perfectionism and have control issues because of their willpower and determination.
If we set lofty targets, like high achievers usually do, the gap between where we are and where we want to be will become glaringly obvious. Our capacity to handle our emotions and expectations while we close the gap is crucial because it will determine how we feel while we pursue our dreams.
Closing the gap can be an immensely rewarding experience, provided we know how to handle it properly. We can use the tension that’s created between both ends of the gap to pull us towards our goals. With an open mind and a flexible approach, the pursuit can invigorate us and challenge us to stretch our limits and step outside our comfort zone.
What we want to steer clear of are the dreaded 3 Ds: discontentment, dissatisfaction and desperation. These disquieting feelings usually spring up when we’re overruled by a sense of lack and fear. When we are not at ease with who we are and our current reality, the idea of pursuing our ideals can seem arduous. We delude ourselves into believing that we can be happy only after we achieve our dreams.
Some people would assert that the best way to avoid the risk of experiencing disappointment and anxiety that might occur while chasing a big goal is by lowering our standards and expectations. While this can work, I believe that this maneuver will inevitably lead to a life of mediocrity, and if you’re a big dreamer like me, that’s like a death wish.
A better alternative is to go ahead and set high standards for your life that you can actively pursue, while simultaneously finding ways to be blissfully content with your present reality. Sure, life can always be a lot better, especially if you are going through a rough phase, but that doesn’t mean that you should suffer or wallow in self-pity in the interim. You deserve to enjoy all bounties that life can offer right now.
A conscious shift in your thoughts and attitude will enable you to create a life that you love and find joy and satisfaction in your current circumstances. Here are some ways by which you can make this shift:
- Spend more time doing things you love: When we follow a mundane routine that consists of only work and errands, we can easily slip into boredom. If this is the case, we need to hit the pause button and consciously reconstruct a lifestyle that includes activities that excite us and resonate with our values. Make a list of the things that you’re passionate about and then find hobbies and communities related to them. Ensure that you dedicate time every week to engage in your passions and pet projects.
- Focus on building quality relationships: Countless studies have shown that our happiness is directly correlated with the quality of our relationships. Truly happy people take the time to nurture deep and authentic bonds with the right people. They cultivate relationships that provide a source of intimacy, camaraderie, fun and intellectual stimulation. Too many people allow the busyness of their life or past relationship issues to isolate or block them from developing meaningful connections with others. You can greatly enrich your life if you take the time to seek and forge connections with people whom you can share mutually beneficial relationships.
- Attach a sense of purpose to everything you do: We aren’t stoic beings, living our lives in a robotic manner. We are rather complex creatures with emotions that naturally pull us towards an exalted existence of virtue and a deeper purpose. For this reason, it’s imperative that we find meaning in everything that we do, and that we connect our actions to the big picture of our lives. We need to act from a place of purpose and deliberation if we would like to sustain a sense of enthusiasm in everything that we do, no matter how bland or banal things may get. I suggest downloading my free E-book to get more guidance on how to connect your purpose to your goals.
- Stay focused on the present moment: If we would like to appreciate our present circumstances, we absolutely have to be fully engaged in the present moment. By that I mean all our five senses are attuned to what’s going on in the here and now instead of the past or the future. This is not the easiest feat to achieve, especially if you have a hectic lifestyle that scatters your mental energy. Some of the most effective ways to be conscious of the present moment is through breath work, meditation and self-reflection. I recommend reading Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now for more insight into this topic.
- Cultivate an attitude of gratitude: Gratitude is one of the most effective ways to build an abundant mindset. The simple act of shifting our focus towards the things that we appreciate, which we usually tend to take for granted, can raise our personal vibrations to unprecedented levels. Always remember that there are many underprivileged people out there in the world who would love to have your life. One of the most popular gratitude practices is writing a list of the things that you are grateful for in a gratitude journal on a daily basis. This will train your mind to seek abundance in your everyday life.
- Trust in the process: As the saying goes, life is all about the journey, not the destination. We may be enthusiastic and even a little impatient about reaching that shiny frontier of success that beckons to us with bright neon lights, but we shouldn’t let it distract us from the interesting scenery along the way. Know that each and every experience we go through has the power to strengthen us with knowledge, courage and wisdom, which are all integral character-building traits for our journey towards success.
I believe that one of the strongest benefits of incubating big dreams is that it instills a sense of hope within you. Your dreams are like distant stars that you will initially admire from afar. You are spellbound as you watch them sparkle away in the distance, confident that you will get there someday.
Hope fuels your efforts to take the steps that will gradually elevate you to higher grounds until you finally reach those stars and embody all their brilliance and magic.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: What are some of the big dreams that you are working on right now? Is there anything holding you back from dreaming big?
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