Daydream Believer: 5 Steps for Living Up to Our True Potential.

Via Jennifer S. White
on Jul 1, 2013
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I’ve always dreamed in black and white.

The times when my dreams have vividly been in color or when something within the dream is in color, like a brightly-tinted bridal bouquet in a Photoshopped wedding album, are moments that I cling to and remember.

We talk about our dreams.

We analyze them.

We might even pore over everything that we can in order to try making them come true—and there’s a reason for that.

We hold our dreams near and dear to our hearts and, for me, the ones that I hold closest—the ones that I care for and nurture and water so that maybe someday they’ll grow up to be big and strong—are my daydreams.

You know, those little, tiny seeds of infinite possibility that you don’t even realize you’re wanting or craving, or even needing  until you snap back out of your waking vision, unable to ignore the longing that has finally been unlocked.

Admittedly, some of us daydream more than others.

Yet all of us have unaccounted ideas—things that we desperately want to see hop out of our childlike imaginations and onto the storybook pages of our real lives. So how do we get there?

How do we figure out what it is that we really want and then go after it once it’s been discovered?

I recently mentioned to you why I write for elephant journal. Then I shared with you my own story about once again becoming a writer after an exceedingly long absence. I also told you that my college degree is in geology, and yet I teach yoga. In other words, I’m by no means an expert on how to be the perfect, dream-inducing individual, but I do know that I’ve let myself follow my own pathway to success, even when this has meant wandering away from the more practical course that I had originally set sail for.

So, from my daydreaming heart to yours, here are five steps that have, undoubtedly, helped me, and that I now hope will help you live up to your true potential.

1. Be grounded.

In order to realize your full potential, outside of your human requirements, you need to be able to live as a successfully grounded person first.

Dreams or no dreams, we live, hopefully, as people who are capable of having roots that grow into the earth because while we are dreaming, imaginative, wonderfully intangible beings, we are also animals that inhabit this plane of reality, and of daily living.

In order for a tree to grow toward the sky, possibly to ridiculous heights, then this tree has to be nurtured down here on earth, firmly planted in healthy soil.

Additionally and more importantly, if you find yourself always dreaming yet never making anything real, then your fantasies are of no good to anyone, namely not to you.

Get in touch with this more primitive side of yourself by exercising, eating well and placing much needed importance on other basics like shelter and work, so that your dreams have a foundation from which to grow and flourish.

2. (Re)Define success.

I told you earlier that I walked away from another, more practical, future. I left a college-fueled career to work in the typically less stable field of yoga teaching, and now I predominantly write—and this became easy for me to do when I redefined what success means.

To me, success means happiness—on an inner level that’s challenging to verbalize—and I find that I’m, in fact, happiest when I’m helping other people and sharing my deep-seated passions. Aren’t we all?

What are your passions? What makes you tick?

Personally, I want enough money to live and buy good food (see previous step), but money doesn’t define my success. (I believe that I also mentioned in the article about why I write for elephant journal that most writers aren’t in it for the money—and the same can be said about most yoga teachers as well.)

If your success is defined more by money than mine, then this might be a limiting factor for you as to how far you’re able to pursue some of your more wildly unrealistic goals (although, I do believe in return on investment). That’s not for me to say, because my definition of success isn’t yours, but you do need to figure out what yours is.

My suggestion is that if you’re not satisfied with your current definition of success, that you strongly consider writing a new one. Don’t worry, multiple drafts are more than acceptable, they’re required.

3. The company you keep matters.

Oh, there are so many quotes, sayings and adages on the company that we keep—and the reason is simple and universal.

The people that you choose to spend your life with (and I’m not necessarily talking romantically) are important for two main reasons. One, they reflect who you see when you look into the mirror and, two, they help shape that reflection.

Choose people who support you, who support your definition of success, and better still, choose people who are adaptable enough that they’ll encourage you while you’re figuring out what your definition means, and, if necessary, they’ll carry you and help you back up after you’ve fallen (because you will, if you’re reaching high enough). Which leads me to…

4. Expect failure.

If you want to recreate your options and live up to your highest potential, then you have to expect to crash and burn, at least once and at least from time to time.

Being successful does not mean that you never fail. Rather, I’d argue that in order to be successful in any capacity and through any definition that you are by default welcoming failure.

There’s a reason that there are a billion inspirational stories out there about people who fell—often many, many timesbefore doing something that the world never forgot.

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” ~ C.S. Lewis

5. Be tenacious.

We all fail. All of us. It’s how we deal with these failures, though, that matter. (I’m thankful to my yoga practice—specifically my practice of balancing postures—for helping me learn how to get up more gracefully.)

On top of this, sometimes the road to success turns out to be entirely the wrong road, and it takes a lot of courage to turn around and start all over again.

My husband, for example, left a “successful” career because he was not happy. He traveled too much for his taste, he couldn’t easily find jobs in the areas that he really wanted, and still, it took immense inner strength and determination for him to begin again. (Do not pass go! Do not collect $200!)

He obtained a second Master’s degree. His potential failures were many. He risked debt and worse, ultimately winding up in a job that didn’t make him any happier. Luckily, it did. He loves his new field, his new job, and the multiple road blocks that were in his way were all well worth moving beyond.

If you search yourself and you find what it is that could make you happy—a new job, a move, whatever—then you are heading in the right direction, but you will have hurdles and setbacks—and if you don’t have the confidence in yourself that you can overcome them, then who else will?

I’m a big believer in dreams.

I believe that all of us bring a quality of huge value into this world when we arrive, but I also know that life can be hard and frustrating, and that many of us lose sight of who we really are and of what it is that we really want while we’re here.

I’m a writer and a yoga teacher, and yes, I have a degree in geology (that I don’t regret). I’m also a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a daydreamer—and you know what? The second that I’ve lost the last thing on this list, for me, the party’s over.

Listen to what your heart is telling you.

Believe in yourself and believe in your dreams—because you might just end up surprising yourself when you try going after them.

“If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” ~ Ellen Johnson Sirleaf



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Ed: B. Bemel


About Jennifer S. White

Jennifer S. White is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She’s also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people who ever lived and she’s also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer, make sure to check out her writing, as she’s finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer is the author of The Best Day of Your Life, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She's also as excited as a five year old to announce the release of her second book, The Art of Parenting: Love Letters from a Mother, available on Amazon.


6 Responses to “Daydream Believer: 5 Steps for Living Up to Our True Potential.”

  1. jane says:

    Thanks for the new lens to look forward and not let our dreams be eaten alive by daily life and multi-tasking .

  2. Liz says:

    I really love your writing, and find it very inspiring. But I have to consider the fact that you have the financial support of a spouse and that that has probably done a great deal to enable you to pursue your dreams. As someone who doesn't have that kind of backing, I often find it frustrating to hear yoga instructors preaching about following their passion without acknowledging that kind of support to their readers. As someone trying to navigate her dreams and career path I'd appreciate more disclosure in that area.

  3. Jennifer White says:

    I do have a spouse that helps me, but I've also, at times, been the person providing the most financial support—and this has included my yoga teaching as our primary income.
    I don't mean to be disrespectful, sincerely, especially since I absolutely agree and fully, from personal experience, understand that finances are, in fact, limiting, but at the same time I find this to be an excuse.
    Example: we went into severe debt for my husband to leave his first professional job and change careers. Yet it was completely worth it in the end (and this includes financially as well)—meaning, if you want to have big gains in life then often there are also big risks and gambles.
    The same is true for a yoga instructor. I think if you want to teach and actually be self-sustaining (and I'm not just dreaming here, I'm talking from my own experience and choice) that you must 1) accept that you will make less money than you could in another area. You might struggle, you might not have a huge house or the fanciest car, but you can have a good place to live and a car—what is more important and 2) you have to be willing to work. Talk to anyone out there making a living at yoga teaching and they often work at more than one studio and teach several classes a week, including private sessions and workshops and anything that helps to boost financial success.
    Yes, my partner is important to being a part of my dreams (see the tip where I remind that who you choose as part of your dreams is hugely important) but also, I'm not teaching as much as I have in the past not because I'm getting some sort of marital free ride, but because I'm raising a child.
    Again, the first step towards living your dream is to take responsibility for the fact that it will likely require hard work and also that there will be casualties in other areas if that dream is, generally speaking, less profitable—and then only you can decide how much it means to you to go after it.

  4. Jennifer White says:

    Thanks, Jane! Dreams are easily over-shadowed by daily living, but I truly believe in the power of a willing and driven heart.

  5. Liz says:

    Thanks for this! I really appreciate your reply, and I hope nothing I said was accusatory. My main concern was the lack of discussion about this topic, not just from you, but from people in general. It's good to hear your honesty, so thank you for responding so graciously.

  6. Oh, no, I feel your frustration. I definitely think there's sadly often a disconnect between the financial reality of following our dreams and our abilities to make that happen. Still, in my personal experience, as well as what I've observed, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and take the leap and trust that you know you're following the right path. On the flip side, it's best to be prepared for leaner days and difficulties (but that's also why I made that one of these steps). On the other hand, my very first tip was to make sure you're grounded in the real world. In other words, if the financial limitations of being a yoga teacher, for example, aren't what do it for you, then consider being one of the many who choose to work full time and teach on the side (why many, many teachers are only able to teach at 6am or in the evenings). Good luck!