Deep inside each of us is a dream, a dream that is big and scary, a dream that has been given to us by the Lord. Some people are living their dreams today, and some are dreaming their lives away. For the last few years I have been one of the latter.
When I was younger, I had a dream of being a preschool teacher and opening a child care center. I loved being around children. I’m a nurturer and patient. It is fun and exciting to watch them discover things for the first time. I worked hard to make that dream happen. I took a couple of detours along the way, but one day I realized that dream. Then that dream ended and I closed my child care center. I continued teaching preschool, but I found myself having trouble working for other people (especially working for Head Start programs). After struggling for several years, I realized that it was time to leave the field of early childhood education and pursue a new dream.
The problem was…I didn’t have a dream to pursue.
I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. I planned on working temp jobs for a while to see what I liked doing, but I never got any calls. I started selling books and my Precious Moments collection on Amazon, but I wasn’t getting enough sells to meet my monthly fees and to buy more items to sell. After six months of searching, I was broke, unable to find a job, and no closer to knowing what my dream was than when I started.
I moved in with my grandmother because she needed a little extra help, but it was only supposed to be temporary. I have now been her caregiver for 2 years, but being a caregiver isn’t my dream.
In the last 2 years of being a caregiver, I have started discovering that I have several dreams that the Lord has placed within my heart, and when He gave me the word “start” as my one word for 2015, I knew that it was time to starting pursuing them.
Finding Your Dream
On my path to discovering my dream, I read book after book on finding your dream and your purpose, but in the end they just overcomplicated things for me and were more about pursing your dreams than actually discovering what those dreams are. The one book that helped the most was You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream by Holley Gerth. I did finally find my new dream though, and really it only took doing these three things:
- Pray about it
If you are looking for a dream, the best place to start is with the One who gives us dreams. Pray and ask Him to send a dream your way. He will and He can. Matthew 7:7 tells us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (ESV) Matthew 21:22 says, “And whatever you ask in pray, you will receive if you have faith.” (ESV) If you want a dream, ask Him. He will provide.
- Look outward
The next place that I would look would be outward at the world around us. I would look for places to serve in the church, in the home, in the community, and in the world. Take some time and reflect on what you are seeing in the world and what you feel most drawn toward.
- What good do you see in the world?
- What do see that needs to be changed?
- How could make a difference in this/these areas?
- When you are serving, what breaks your heart? What makes you angry?
- What areas are you currently serving in?
- What do you like about serving in those areas?
- What do you dislike about where you are serving?
- If you could serve anywhere, doing anything, where would you go and what would you do?
But as wonderful as reflection can be, doing is even better so get out there and experience life. The more you get out and do the more you get to know you.
- Look inward
We also need to look inward when looking for a dream. Get to know yourself. Ask yourself these questions:
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What do you like to do?
- What talents do you have?
- Do you know your personality type? Take the Meyers-Briggs Assessment and then learn more about your personality type. (I’m INFJ. We are a rare breed. Less than 3% of people have this type. When I started reading and learning more about it, I started understanding myself and my relationships a lot better.)
- What new skills do you want to learn?
- What is your learning style? This isn’t a question normally asked, but it can actually tell you a lot about yourself. Do you learn better by listening, by reading, by watching, or by doing?
- What are your spiritual gifts?
As you take a look at all of these things, you begin to see how God designed you and find the dream(s) that He has planted in your heart.
Turning Your Dream into Reality
Now that you have found your dream it is time to start living that dream. Here are three steps to help you live your dreams:
- Set goals that are S.M.A.R.T.
If you want to make those dreams come true, you have to take action, but the best way to start taking action is to break that dream down to manageable goals. Goals that work best are S.M.A.R.T goals. S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
- Specific: State precisely what it is that you want to accomplish.
- Measurable: How will you know that the goal has been met?
- Attainable: Is this achievable?
- Realistic/relevant: How does this tie into your vision?
- Timely: When is this goal to be finished by?
By taking small achievable steps, you can reach your dreams. Unfortunately, there is no “easy” button for achieving them. There is just hard work and dedication.
- Be faithful
Be faithful in the small everyday tasks. The Bible tells us that when we are faithful in the small things, then the bigger things will come.
- Be Intentional
Now that you have set your goals you have to be intentional in achieving those goals. You can set goals and talk about dreams, but if all you do is talk about them, they aren’t going to happen. Keep your dreams in front of you whether you use a list or a vision/prayer board because it is easy to get distracted. Keep focused on Christ. Stay faithful in the small things and do what you can where you are. When the distractions come (and they will come), then it is easier to say “no” to them.
Everyone has a dream. Even those who say that they have stopped dreaming and hoping still have a dream deep down inside them. Now is the time to pursue those dreams. We are not promised tomorrow. Today is all we are given so today is the day you need to start living your dreams.