A long time ago, someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. My 10 year old self replied “a millionaire”. I’ve no idea where that answer came from or even how I was going to achieve it, it was just my dream at that time.
I like to think that I’ve moved on to bigger and better dreams since then, because let’s face it, being a millionaire is only about money. These days I dream of a world free of violence against women. I dream of a time when I can say to my daughter “you can be anything you want” and it will be true, because neither her gender nor her race will prevent her from reaching the highest positions. I dream of a time when gender equality is a fact and not just a pipe dream.
This week, I’d like to put forward my top 3 reasons for why I think it’s important that we pursue our dreams.
Show me a person who is passionate about what they do and I will show you a person who is inspired by their dreams. Where would we be without the Martin Luther King’s of this world, the Thomas Edison’s or the Barack Obama’s? The people who dreamed big and went after those dreams. Real dreams are bigger than us. Sometimes they are so big, that they feel overwhelming, even before we start. The only difference between those who merely dream and those who achieve their dreams is action. Don’t know where to start? Start anywhere. Start with something easy, start with something that’s particularly interesting to you. Just start! Once you do, keep going. I’ve recently begun to practice a principle called “15 minutes to your destiny”. The idea is you spend 15 minutes each day, working towards your dream. All of us can find a spare 15 minutes in our day and what better use of our time is there than to pursue our dreams? Our dreams inspire us, they keep us going when we want to stop and best of all they give us hope, which is my second reason for why we should keep chasing our dreams.
A life without hope would be a pretty depressing one. Unfortunately, there are a lot of hope-less people out there, who feel they have nothing to look forward to, nothing to aspire to. Dreams give us hope, they give us focus, they give us a roadmap of who and where we want to be in life. When I tell people that I work with survivors of domestic violence, they usually say that it must be pretty depressing. Actually, it’s not to me. It’s emotionally draining work, but what would be depressing is if I thought I wasn’t making a difference and never could. I don’t think of the huge numbers of women experiencing domestic violence around the world. I think of the woman in front of me. I take it one woman at a time. When I see the changes in her life, the growth, the self awareness, the ability to make safe choices for herself and her children, then I am simultaneously inspired and hopeful of what I can help another woman to achieve.
Finally, it’s important to pursue your dream, because dreams change lives. They change your life and the lives of people around you. The innovation and creativity that dreamers bring to life, never stops with just them. Like the ripple effect of a pebble in water, the effects of a realised dream just keep going. I wonder how many young Black girls are going to take up gymnastics or tennis because of Gabby Douglas and the Williams’ sisters. How many young Black men will pursue education as a route to success instead of the following the lure of crime and it’s so called ‘easy money’? How many young women will pursue a career in politics because of women like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Condoleezza Rice or Hillary Rodham Clinton?
Your potential and your dreams are a gift both to you and the people around you. There are people waiting for you to step up and step out, so they can fulfil their dreams and release their potential. Dream big, dream small, dream often, keep dreaming. When you’re done dreaming, start moving because we’re waiting on you to change the world, one step at a time.
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Until next week, go well