dream burnout/disappointment

As COPs and EDs*, it’s easy for us to overload on planning. But there’s always a point where there’s just nothing left to plan. If you suffer from COP, then you’ve probably done this; planned everything a thousand ways, tweaked it endlessly, and now there’s nothing left for that dream. You’re left twiddling your thumbs, bored and aimless, until one day…BAM. Another grand idea comes along, whisking you off to Planningland. If you don’t stop yourself from planning and dreaming, you’re going to be caught in the never-ending search for the new, next-best dream, the next something to plan and dream about. And you’ll wind up at the end of your life with none of the dreams accomplished. You may even have twenty cats. (Well, that doesn’t sound half bad…) At any rate, dream burnout is easy to get. I’ve done it hundreds of times.

Here’s a piece of advice. Don’t make idols of your dreams. Dreams are wonderful, shiny, grandiose things that are called “dreams” for a reason. They don’t exist in reality in the way we think they will. They never can, because we can’t see the future. 100% of the time, they surprise us in how they turn out. Come on, you know I’m right. Nothing is perfect, and even if we plan out the flaws or dangers, reality always has something we don’t expect. Dreams can’t meet your highest expectations. If you think they will, you will set yourself up for dream disappointment.

Remember, even if you reach achieve your dream life, it won’t always be exciting and infinitely more wonderful than the life you have now. Life is mostly made up of endless days and in-between moments, not the biggest, brightest times. Think back on your happiest memories. When you were living that moment, was it as wonderful as the memory it created? I’ve discovered that often enough, a moment is better in memory than when I was living it. Mostly because I’m not thinking about how wonderful the thing is all the while I’m in it. Find time to create wonderful memories, but remember that life is never a continuous succession of adventure, and watch out for dream burnout and disappointment.

otter.

*COP – Chronic Over-Planner/Planning

ED – Excessive Dreamer/Dreaming

Advertisements

living NOW

Photo Oct 19, 11 58 10 PM

                Always walking forward? Sometimes it’s better to be still.

As a Chronic Over-Planner and dreamer, I struggle with living in the future. While my body is stuck in the present, my mind is far afield in the Wonderland of Tomorrow. Psh. That’s a poetic way of stating a real problem. Let me elaborate. I came to Taiwan in August; an amazing realization of a lifelong dream to travel and live abroad. For the year or so preceding this dream, almost all my waking moments were spent planning or dreaming about life here.

All well and good – moving to another country does take planning and careful consideration. But here’s the kicker; now that I’m here, instead of buckling down and enjoying my current life, I’m already on to the next big thing, waiting and planning and dreaming my next move. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME??? Oh, I know exactly what’s wrong, and it happens to a lot of people. Life isn’t lived in continuous spurts of adventure and awesomeness. Those most blissful of moments when we are so happy we don’t think of the time, when we’re really stuck in the now, happen infrequently. Most of life is lived in the everyday, small moments when nothing happens. My life in Taiwan isn’t all that different from life at home. Sure, the environment has changed, but I’m still on the computer an awful lot, I still read a lot of the same kinds of books, I even eat the same now that I’ve figured out cafeteria food doesn’t like me, and my schedule isn’t that strange now. I’ve settled into life here, and it’s powerfully easy to let myself fantasize about future adventures in places where I’m sure it’ll be more frequently exciting.

That’s a delusion and dangerous. Once I realized what I was doing all the time, it scared me that I won’t ever be able to live in the Now. I Googled, I went on blogs, I read some books…it helped me at least to realize I had a problem, and that it was legitimate.

So, if you struggle with this too, what can we do? There’s a few things I’ve found that helped me. First off, realizing you have a problem will help you in overcoming it. (<<So not original.) If you can catch yourself fantasizing, you can stop and say, “Ah, there I go again,” and actively try and stop. I also created a gratefulness list, which helps keep me focused on what I have now that is awesome. I’ll include it at the bottom of this post.

Another really good tip is to find what you enjoy and do more of it. In “Living the 80/20 Way,” author Richard Koch makes the argument that 80% of our enjoyment in life comes from 20% of what we do. Makes sense, when you stop and think. What activities make you lose track of time? What things do you get really lost in? When were you last happiest? For me, I have a pretty short list. Eating out with good friends is on it. Blogging and working on my blog is another thing. What are yours? What can you include more of in your daily life that will help you settle into the moment?

This subject has the potential to fill a book, so I’ll save some related topics for later posts. But if you struggle with living always in the future, take a moment to think and realize it’s a problem, and figure out what you can do to stop.

My gratefulness list:

  • I’m alive.
  • I’m saved.
  • I’m living my dream of travel in Taiwan.
  • I have good health.
  • I’m with my best friend.
  • My work is fairly easy and enjoyable (cute kids!).
  • I have opportunities to learn and grow through hardships.
  • I’m surrounded by language.
  • I’m making enough money to save.

What would be on yours?

otter.

(Photo Credit – R.N.)

just do it

dance1

Going somewhere? AT 150MPH! HUZZAH!

How many of you are like me? You are major dreamers, major planners, majors in figuring out how to live and do better without doing it. If you are a Chronic Over-Planner, raise your hand. Even in reading all these fantastic books about change, dream jobs, dream lives, more with less, and so on, I am still just waiting, not doing! I’m reading about a better life, not having one. I’m reading about how I should just sit and write, but I’m not sitting and writing. I’m reading and my brain is going, “Yay! THIS is how I should do it. At last, a solution!” But guess what? There’s always another book to read. There are lots of books out there now about how to get off your tush, out of your bad job, out of the drudgery of life and into something marvelous that will be an adventure every minute of the day! </sarcasm> Okay, so maybe I’m being a little harsh. I mean, these books are fantastic. The advice is good. But for the over-planners and chin-in-the-palm dreamers like me, I can spend the next two weeks reading all these books and won’t have accomplished much of anything.

It takes doing. Like Nike, man! “Just do it!” If I had to sum up all the advice in all these books, that would be it. Most of us know what we need to do. For us over-planners and dreamers, we’ve planned and dreamed everything about everything. Even if we don’t have all the steps laid out yet, we have the first one. You do, right? If I want to be a blogger, what do I need to do? Blog. Write. Post this article. Simple. I can worry about just exactly how awesome my blog will look when I get that new software, how I need to work on my photography skills until they’re stellar, how I need to have a full two-month plan before I type a single thing, but in the end, the first step is to write.

So here’s me, writing. I did it, Nike!

otter.