How To Dream Without Making Dreams Your Master

    A guest post by Ollin Morales of Courage 2 Create

    There are a lot of people who dream about writing a novel but never actually sit down to write anything.

    In my opinion, these people aren’t lazy, irresponsible, weak, or cowardly. In my opinion, these are simply people who’ve yet to learn how to dream without making dreams their master.

    Why We Would Rather Dream Dream Than Actually Live The Dream

    In his famous poem, “If,” Rudyard Kipling shares several important lessons that he hopes will help his son become successful in life. One of the best parts of the poem is when Kipling tells his son that he should dream but “not make dreams [his] master.”

    Now, when I first read this line, I had no idea what Kipling meant. But, two years ago, when I finally began to write the novel I had dreamed about writing, I finally understood what Kipling meant.

    It was only then, when I started to pursue the dream and not just dream the dream, that I learned that the reason why so many writers don’t even begin the novel they dream about writing.

    It all comes down to this sobering fact: we would rather dream the dream than actually experience the high-highs, and low-lows, of what living out the dream is like.

    We know consciously (or unconsciously) that the actual living out of our dream requires us to face rejection, failure, boredom, disappointment, depression, as well as acceptance, success, excitement, encouragement, and jubilation.

    But in our dreams we have the benefit of only experiencing the positive aspects of the dream-realization process, and we’re free to censor all the negative aspects of that journey.

    How Dreaming Becomes Your Master

    Now, I’m not knocking dreaming. I think dreaming is important. Vital even. We all need to have a vision. We all need to have a concrete goal of what we want out of this life, and dreaming helps us define both that goal and that vision.

    So, a dream is always a great place to start.

    But where dreaming goes bad is when you get stuck on that vision, or goal, and don’t leave any wiggle room for improvisation or adaptation.

    Dreaming becomes your master when you don’t allow yourself to take the first step in making your dream a reality, because you believe that all the stars have to be aligned perfectly in order for you to proceed.

    Dreaming becomes your master when you don’t adjust or recalibrate your dream to the random curve balls life throws at you.

    Dreaming becomes your master when you seek a pure, unadulterated version of your dream, and refuse to compromise for anything that isn’t exactly what you had imagined.

    Dreaming becomes your master when you refuse to be open to opportunities that weren’t apart of your initial dream “plan,” but that may still help you realize your dream in the long run.

    Dreaming becomes your master when you think you must “coddle” your dream and not let it be “tainted” by “impure” or “less-than-ideal” circumstances.

    Waiting for ideal circumstances, or seeking to create ideal circumstances, is exactly how your dream gets deferred.

    How To Dream Without Making Dreams Your Master

    So, here’s what you must do if you’re continually deferring your dreams on a day-to-day basis:

    Admit it. You have let your dreams become your master.

    Now, for your own good, escape from your bondage and take the following actions toward your freedom:

    Make a decision. (Remember: decision = action.)

    A theater teacher once taught me this vital lesson: he taught me that “decision = action.”

    For many of us, indecision is the constant foil to fulfilling our dreams.

    We can’t decide on the best way to begin realizing our dream, because we see too many ways in which our decisions could lead us to disaster.

    So, if you’re stuck in indecision, remember that as long as you stay undecided you won’t be able to move forward with you dream.

    But, if you want to move forward, just make a decision. Any decision. A decision will always propel you into action, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself taking a real step toward your dreams.

    (By the way, don’t be afraid if your decision does lead to disaster. If your decision produces an unfavorable result, you can always decide to try something else later.)

    Stop analyzing. Just experience.

    Another way we allow dreams to become our master is by overanalyzing our dreams.

    We analyze the probability of us succeeding, or we analyze how much money we might make, or we analyze what awards we might, or might not, get. We study the statistics, examine the percentages, pore over the stories of people who have achieved something similar to what we desire to accomplish. We start there, but we don’t end there.

    We spend hours upon hours comparing, contrasting, pondering, conjecturing, stipulating, estimating, and extrapolating all aspects of our dream—but we never just choose to EXPERIENCE our dream.

    If you want to stop making dreams your master, you need to stop analyzing your “chances” of realizing your dream, and instead make the choice to experience the realization of your dream.

    Remember that analysis is just thinking, and just thinking about your dream won’t get you anywhere. So, just move from thinking to doing, today.

    Know that the living out of your dreams means that you must experience the “low-lows” of the journey as well as the “high-highs” of the journey. This is all part of the process.

    Nobody gets an easy ride.

    Well… except for Kim Kardashian. And Snooki. And rich people’s pets.

    But you’re not Kim Kardashian, Snooki, or a Yorkshire Terrier from Pasadena, California so just get over it, get to work, and expect that the ride is not going to be perfect.

    Stop comparing yourself to others. You have a unique journey you are meant to fulfill.

    The bad news is that you’ll never be able to achieve the kind of success that someone else has already achieved. But the good news is that no one else will be able to achieve the kind of success that you may potentially achieve.

    So, focus on achieving the success that is only possible for you. Focus on succeeding in ways only you can succeed. Forget everybody else.

    Detach yourself from the outcome.

    Ask yourself to succeed in engaging in the process, and not in realizing the product.

    In truth, what will come of your attempts to realize your dream is not really up to you. What is up to you is if you take the time today to try to make your dream a reality.

    So don’t demand that you achieve great work, just demand that you will try to achieve great work.

    Dream In Moderation

    Dreaming is good, but just like with anything else, too much of it can be dangerous.

    So make sure you dream in moderation. Dream, but be careful not to let that dreaming get in the way of you achieving those dreams. Dream, but don’t let dreams become your master.

    Instead, be the master over your dreams. Admit that living out your dream, and experiencing all the low octaves and high altos of the process, is a whole lot better than just imagining your dream, and allowing your life to play out like one, long, monotonous chord.

    How do you not let dreams become your master? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

    Ollin Morales is a writer. Courage 2 Create chronicles the author’s journey as he writes his very first novel. This blog offers writing advice as well as strategies to deal with life’s tough challenges. His blog was named one of The Top Ten Blogs for writers by Write To Done two years in a row (2011, 2012), and has been featured on The Huffington Post and Colorlines.com


    About the author

      Ollin Morales

      Ollin Morales's blog, Courage 2 Create, chronicles the author’s journey as he writes his very first novel. His blog offers writing tips as well as strategies to deal with life’s toughest challenges. After all, as Ollin’s story unfolds, it becomes more and more clear to him that in order to write a great novel, he must first learn how to live a great life.

    • I’ve come back to this post 2-3 times over the last couple of weeks – since it arrived in my emailbox. It’s sticking with me!….and brings me to another phrase that keeps me going….

      Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.

      Nothing to lose,
      lots to learn….That’s really about it, isn’t it? I’ll keep coming back to this post… I need the reminder lately~ Good to read all of you on the path, too, fellow commenteers~ YAY!

      Wendy Sloneker

    • Great post! When my father passed away, I found Kipling’s poem IF in his closet. I like the ending, which to me is what success is all about–it’s not whether “you win or lose, but how you play the game”.
      It’s all about the journey and not the destination. I think we forget that today in our age of celebrities. We need to follow our dreams and take the hills and valleys as they come.

    • Ollin, this speaks so much to the importance of just getting started.

      I run into this with many of my readers all the time. They have a dream, it’s a good one but they just can’t break out of their ‘dream mode’ and get started. That first step is hard and I think you really have to examine “why’ it’s hard.

      There’s a lot of conscious effort that has to take place here, but if you want your dreams to become a reality you have to really look inside yourself and overcome the things holding you back.

      Useful post Ollin,

      Liz 🙂

    • Tim Braithwaite says:

      As Kristin said, your article read as though you had peered into my world and spoken the words of empathy and encouragement that I needed, just when I needed them.

      And Eyvonne does you justice describing your article as “truly unmissable”. There really aren’t many posts in the cyberverse that can shoulder such a claim.

      Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, so clearly.

      • Wow, thanks Tim. I’m so flattered. I always work very hard on my posts so it always brings me joy and warmth to hear a post has struck a chord with someone. Thanks for the kind words!

    • Ollin, Another one of my favorite posts from you! My favorite line is “achieve the success that is only possible for you.” I get way off track when I try to do it someone else’s way. I act on my dreams, but have to remember and define my own dreams. Otherwise, I start living someone else’s dream, and that’s no fun!

      • That’s one of the toughest lessons I’ve had to learn Marci. We often want to compare our journey’s with others, but that’s not only unfair to others, but its unfair to us, too. We have our own unique journey to fulfill and we should let it unfold as it will.

    • Hi Ollin, Nice to see your guest post here. You made so many wonderful points. I think we sometimes live in the dream because we are afraid of the reality. The fear keeps us from attempting to make our dreams reality.
      Great post!

      • Yup. FDR was so right when he said: “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” We really don’t.

    • Such an excellent post. This one bit here: “Detach yourself from the outcome” was probably the single most important step I took in order to see the dream through. If I hadn’t have done this, it’s quite likely I would have given up.

      By focusing on the ‘now’ and the actions I take day to day, I remain persistent and able to continue working happily toward something greater. I haven’t reached it yet, but it doesn’t matter any more. I love the process and the steadiness of small steps and improvement. 🙂

      Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

      • Thanks Angela. For those wanting to learn more about this “detach yourself from the outcome” concept check out my post: “How To Cure Writer’s Block and Never Stop Being Productive–Ever” http://wp.me/pPq2W-1SQ.

    • Kristin Cole says:

      Wow I needed to read this so much right now. This felt like it was specially written for me at this very moment. Thank you!

    • Arley Cole says:

      Well, this is just freaking awesome and exactly what I needed to hear right now. Thanks loads for it!!! What’s weird is that I’ve had the line “If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same” running through my head for the past few days (hope I quoted it right). Seriously great post!!

    • Eyvonne Black says:

      Thank you …………

      ………….. once more for this! This is pure TRUTH. How many times do we make our Dreams our Master and without realisation.

      This is truly an unmissable article on writing.

      Thanks again.

      Bless you all!!


    • Lorna says:

      Thanks so much Ollin…needed to hear that today:-) Especially needed that great reminder to ‘Detach yourself from the Outcome’. I think sometimes I overthink, overanalyze and then it’s almost like it’s paralyzing…you know what I mean. So instead of being ‘stopped in my tracks’ I just need to love engaging in the process. Thanks for helping me focus again:-)

    • Bill Polm says:

      Excellent post, Ollin.
      My favorite portion is:
      Ask yourself to succeed in engaging in the process, and not in realizing the product.
      In truth, what will come of your attempts to realize your dream is not really up to you. What is up to you is if you take the time today to try to make your dream a reality.
      So don’t demand that you achieve great work, just demand that you will try to achieve great work.
      But it’s all good.
      I think my flaw is overanalysis especially of ventures I find intimidating.
      And it’s true, it’s helps to let go of the outcome, since we can act wisely to promote the realization of our dreams, be really cannot control that outcome.

      • Why thank you, Bill! That was such an important lesson for me. Yoda was wrong you know: so much can come of you just “trying” instead of demanding that you “do” or “do not.” Good luck to you!

      • Jeff says:

        Perhaps it’s best for us to realize how important it is just to get words on paper/screen to fulfill who we are as writers. Even if nothing much comes of it, at least we have released something that needed to be put out there–for our eye’s or for the world’s.

    • Renora says:

      This is a great post. I find myself thinking how tired I am of dreaming. But there is this fear of starting to work on that dream, like, what if I am not good enough. This post was a great reality check. Thanks.

    • Excellent post. I have often set goals for my dream, when what I should be doing is focussing on the now. It’s safe to imagine the dream evolving instead of doing the work RIGHT NOW to get things moving.
      Thanks again for your insights. Beth

      • I don’t blame people: it’s so easy just to dream and not actually do anything. So many of us experience hurt, disappointment, rejection. That stuff stings and it may take us a while to heal from all that. But once we do, we must remember how to act on our dreams–and stop delaying.

    • Marcie says:

      Right now, I am living my dreams. And the one thing that could be a hindrance – if I let it – is my cashflow. However, I have determined that each day I wake up in my right mind and WRITE is an absolute dream come true. I’ m doing what I love and I know the money will follow. In the meantime, I’m working on making the other part of my dream come true – teaching people how to write. Gosh, I love my life!

      • Congrats on living your dreams Marcie! I’m so happy for you!

    • This is always a good reminder – hesitation is not helpful (I’ve just been preparing to write on Hamlet, so good timing! 🙂 And we all need perspective, some balance btw not just beating ourselves up, but also finding a way not to lose our dream and protect our hearts also. Thank you for an encouraging and realistic post, Olin!

    • Susan Joy says:

      Thanks for jumpstarting my day. I allow my dream to languish in the relative saftey of daily duties and procrastination. What makes writing so fear filled? Something wraps me up like a mummy when I write for publication. There are winding sheets of what ifs and the words logjam somewhere between the mind and heart. My fingertips are heavy with unwritten words. The tyrannical editor sits on my chest and dares me to reveal my inadiquacy. Well, I am going to print out this article and take it with me today as I try, try try again.

      Blessings friend
      susan joy

      • Just make a decision, Susan. Decision = action. Good luck to you! 🙂

    • Bonnita Davidtsz says:

      WoW!! Olin Morales, one of the most meaningful messages on living a meaningful life )and becoming anything you yearn for. Many thanx

    • Good post.
      My dreams were just dreams for years, and I made all sorts of excuses as to why I wasn’t putting them into action – not enough time, busy with my job and my kids, I had to mow the lawn, you get the idea. When my kids were grown and happily living their adult lives, I looked at the time before me. What did I want to do? When I reached the end of my life and looked God in the eye, what gifts could I tell him I used to the best of my ability? That was my a-ha! moment. I knew I had to write all the stories that had been in my head and in my dreams for decades.

      • I’m so glad you’ve finally gotten around to writing your stories, Jeanne! That’s awesome!

      • Jeff says:

        It’s good for us to realize there will be a moment of reckoning some day (maybe sooner than we think!). We all have good intentions, “some day”s, etc. But what really counts is what we actually did.

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