Happiness Means Having a Dream. Always.

I purchased Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog program yesterday. The Day 1 activity nearly convinced me to quit blogging. By the end of the night, it would be Twitter and not the ProBlogger that saved this blog and helped me identify why I’ve felt so adrift lately, and what I needed to do to feel grounded again.

The first lesson in the 31 Day course asked me to define what “real need” this blog helped fulfill for people. A few hours of brainstorming left me with no answers, a few tears, and a rising fear that I was spinning in circles.

I thought back to the last six years I’ve spent online and all of the things I haven’t accomplished.

At least, that’s what I thought I was thinking about. I didn’t really have a list of things I’d wanted that I hadn’t achieved. In fact, if I had been in a better frame of mind I could have filled entire notebooks with amazing things I’ve done, experienced, and achieved since I first began writing for an audience. But I wasn’t in a better frame of mind. I was swirling without an anchor, coming back to the same sad question over and over again.

“What’s the point?”

It’s a fear I’ve been wrestling with for a few weeks now.

What’s the point?

Where am I going?

Am I headed in the right direction?

Shut up and trust the dots to connect.

I’ve tried to shut myself up with admonishment to just enjoy the present. This trip, after all, is what I was working towards last year. I need to learn to live in the moment I worked so hard for. Do not think about the future. Do not listen to your doubts. But not listening didn’t make them go away, and yesterday afternoon all of those questions and fears came tumbling out in a river of tears and despondent tweets.

My friend Vikki caught wind of my sadness and sent me a few direct messages, surely unaware of what an impact she was about to have on my life. In an effort to help, she asked “What are your goals? What are you looking to have happen?”

I cringed as soon as the words came on the screen. I knew where this was going and I was certain the validity of my concerns was about to be challenged.

I admitted I didn’t have any specific goals at the moment, that I had tried to set some but kept getting hung up because I no longer cared about achieving some set dollar amount in income.

“Aye. There’s the rub. How can you be falling short if you haven’t decided what you want?”

I knew she was going to say that, and I instantly hated her a little bit for trying to infuse logic into my frustration. I explained to Vikki that I was having trouble coming up with specific goals.

“You have to set the goals that matter to you, not the ones you feel should matter. Easier said than done, I know.”

And then I wrote the truth I had been trying to ignore for weeks.

The only goals I care about, besides finishing this trip, are going to Southeast Asia and living in New York City.

I could breathe easier before I’d even typed the period. I opened a new tab on my browser and began researching daily costs for travel in Cambodia, international flight prices, and apartment rentals in Midtown Manhattan. I pulled up my budget Excel sheet and typed rounded up figures into new columns.

I felt the frantic fear recede, slowly like a retreating tide.

Within fifteen minutes, I had a goal that meant something to me, a number that represented hopes, dreams and values capable of propelling me.

I looked up from the laptop to tell Jared, and instantly realized one of the factors that had contributed to my recent fear.

I am always looking to the next project.

Jared hates that.

It’s this difference between us that keeps our family grounded and moving forward. It’s why he doesn’t live in his parent’s basement and I don’t live under a bridge somewhere. I’m grateful for his tempering and his ability to help me live in this moment at least as much as I push towards the next. But…

I am a seeker.

While it is good for me to be able to enjoy an afternoon or a week-long vacation, this adventure is a year of living on the road. I can’t survive a year without a goal. Furthermore, this isn’t a temporary break from a lifestyle I plan to return to, it’s part of the overall journey. My ability to enjoy the journey relies, in part, on my knowing what direction I’m heading.

“Jared, I need to tell you something, and you’re probably not going to like it.”

“OK…”

“I’m not saying we have to go to Cambodia and Thailand when we’re done with this trip. I’m not saying I’m not keeping my options open. But I did sit down and figure out what it would cost and it did give me a goal to work towards. I am working towards at least making that possible, even if we decide to do something else. I have to.”

“OK. That makes sense.”

Why does it always sound so obvious after the dots have started to connect?

Part of me hates to admit that I’m the kind of the person that can’t just take a year off and chill with my family. I worry that it’s a sign of immaturity or discontent, an inability to be happy where I am, a need to always have a carrot to chase.

But a bigger part of me, a kinder part of me, knows that this is just the way I am made. I was made to swim rather than soak. And while I have gotten a lot better at recognizing when it’s time to rest, I also need to remember that happiness comes from living as the person you were made to be instead of as the person you think you should be.

I was made to dream. Always.

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  1. Faiqa says:

    As a person who is also married to a dreamer, I will tell you a secret (on your blog that half the internet reads): my husband's big dreams have taught me how to dream. And that is a lesson that I don't think I could have ever learned without him. He's also helped me respect that the greatest limitation we set upon ourselves is not financial, occupational, educational or whatever… it's how much we limit our imagination. I'm proud of him and I'm proud of you. I thank God everyday for the dreamers, I really do.

  2. Audra says:

    From my perspective, I don't see how you CANNOT see the purpose for your blog. You are living proof, for all of your readers, that it IS possible to chase after your dreams. How many people feel like they are prisoners in their McMansions? How many people are going to get up ridiculously early (or not go to sleep at all) on "Black Friday" because they feel like buying stuff for their spouse, children, parents, etc…is what they're "supposed" to do? How many people are still tethered to financial goals to make more money that they have lost interest in but continue to chase because they feel that their salary is the only worthwhile way in which they can be measured? Granted, some people do actually enjoy this, but many people have yet to learn to celebrate who they are and not who they are "supposed" to be. You are living proof that if you live a life true to yourself you can be happy.

  3. jodifur says:

    I just wrote a similar blog post. How you get to a point with a blog and you wonder were you go from here. I don't know the answer but maybe some of us "old timers" in the blogosphere are all wondering the same thing?

  4. Anna Bla says:

    my friend. yes, you and I who've only communicated via twitter and reading blog posts. I call you friend. these words, these words make me feel like it's okay to stay grounded and be looking forward to the next project. It's okay to have big dreams. I'm a seeker too, and i've started to come to grips with why and how to embrace it! ps: i've travelled lots in South East Asia, so if you need someone to brainstorm with let me know.

  5. Anna Blanch says:

    my friend. yes, you and I who've only communicated via twitter and reading blog posts. I call you friend. these words, these words make me feel like it's okay to stay grounded and be looking forward to the next project. It's okay to have big dreams. I'm a seeker too, and i've started to come to grips with why and how to embrace it!ps: i've travelled lots in South East Asia, so if you need someone to brainstorm with let me know.

  6. eva hamori says:

    To experience and change to me = happiness. And, as I am on my year of travelling also, I often feel like the pace of our adventure is slow. I think it is called resting, not too familiar an idea, so my mini goal list occupy my time, even on my sabbatical! Keep swimming, soaking can be left to the others. Eva :)

  7. Michelle says:

    I'm a dreamer like you – do it while you can still accomplish your goals, even if they change as you do. If I'd have known that I would get sick at such a young age, I would've never let other's doubts hold me back. Yes, we all need to be realistic about how we achieve our goals but too often we put things off thinking we can do it later in life. Do it now, while you are thinking of it and want it and can still do it. Trust me on this Britt. =)

  8. Nanna says:

    Ah, mein little one, a) call your mama when you feel like this. Always. Period. b) Have I not taught you that desires come from God ("de Sire") and that as much as we might wish we were given other gifts sometimes, THOSE are the ones God intended for us to have.I read a very cool post yesterday about The Main in the Arena quoting Teddy Roosevelt, about how some people were built o be in the arena striving and seeking. Yes, there are "intermissions", if you will, and as one who loves you, I wish for you to develop the enjoyment of those intermissions. Here is a question. What is it about New York City and Southeast Asia that attracts you? Something in particular? A feeling? A lifestyle?

  9. Megan says:

    My biggest fear (after death) is not having a dream to strive for. The only time it becomes a problem is when you hop aimlessly from one thing to another without ever reaching a goal. That's when you are lost. As long as you're headed somewhere, it's all good.It's fine to enjoy the journey, but the very definition of the word is moving from one place to another.

  10. naomi says:

    (wait … where is India on the list? Cambodia doesn't do Holi, sister friend!!)loved this post!

  11. yet another reason why i don't believe in self help books. you don't need someone else telling you how to make your blog better. this one is damn terrific. and your old one was fantastic in its own right. so yeah, that book can bite my butt.p.s. i love that you are a dreamer because i am SO not. life gently advances at me at warp speed and i hang on for the ride.

  12. schmutzie says:

    Twitter has saved my butt a hundred times. I'm glad it saved yours :)

  13. Britt,Although you and I have never met, we are so much alike. I never thought of the analogy a swimmer vs a soaker. I am definitely a swimmer and dear hubby is a soaker. He has high hopes of swimming, and makes big plans, but rarely takes the plunge. As for me, I dive in the deep end! I love that you set another goal to look forward to. Not that you won't enjoy this current journey, but some of us need to know where we are going. BerniceHow to do that thing you REALLY want to do

  14. Poppy says:

    I have a migraine, so you'll have to excuse my inability to understand information at the moment. Are you going to Southeast Asia at the end of your national tour?And, why midtown? That question isn't influenced by the migraine. I am curious why midtown. (And, could you define what midtown means to you so I know you really mean the same midtown I mean? Thanks.)

  15. Vikki says:

    Sometimes, we all need a calm voice during the existential storm to reflect back to us what we already know. Onward my friend!

  16. Amanda says:

    This post was exactly what I NEEDED right now. I'm really trying to figure out who I am vs. who others think I am. It's a struggle, but I'm determined to be ME! I don't know if I know exactly who I am yet, and I have a feeling it will take a lifetime to figure out. I'm both scared and excited by that :) Keep blogging! I just found you so you can't stop yet! haha

  17. Lynner says:

    You and I are so different and I don't think it's just because of the age gap. I am married to a dreamer and I couldn't be more opposite of that. I have no big dreams and my last big goal was graduating from nursing school 18 years ago. I think that experience used up all my goal planning and dreaming.I am perfectly satisfied to stay in my own home and live near my family. Will I have missed anything by not yearning for the next horizon? I don't think so because everything I truly value is right here. I guess compared to some I'm lucky: I am happy with who I am, don't feel the urge to go or seek out new places or become something other than who I am right now. Peace. I guess that would describe it. The world needs all kinds – dreamers, seekers, stay-at-homes, bumps on a log, I suppose. Reading about your goals and compulsion to go and do makes me anxious – not for you, but I would have panic attacks just thinking about it doing it myself.

  18. I loved reading about your thought processes with this post.I am exactly like you. If I don't have a goal or a purpse then I feel massive disconnect. It is so important to stay aligned with what it is you really want. You will move mountains when you do.I love the idea of you going to South East Asia. Let me know if you need any advice. My fave part of the world.

  19. Jamie says:

    I think that's why I like signing up for races. It's a v definitive goal. My dreams are another matter. I need to figure them out. Make them as concrete as possible and work toward them like putting the miles in for a road race. Great post and thanks for sharing your thought process. Enjoy the other half of our country while planning for Cambodia.

  20. Bre says:

    "I was made to dream. Always."That gave me goosebumps. Love it, beautiful post.Love you,Bre

  21. the muskrat says:

    I pretty much always have to have a large, frustrating, and expensive project or goal ahead of me that occupies any excess thoughts and time. It's a blessing and a curse.

  22. Zablon says:

    its amazing how honest you are with yourself, most people arent. its great that you are able to reflect and find what makes you happy. i hope you achieve your goals

  23. leanne says:

    My husband and I are polar opposites in this regard. I think and plan ahead. I dream of taking my kids on trips to certain places (even though at the moment it's hard to think about traveling as my youngest is 3 and boy, is she a handful at times — though I know it should get easier).My husband does not. But he's willing to play along and help make things happen. And I'm extremely grateful for that.

  24. Christine says:

    Your post brought tears to my eyes. I am often in EXACTLY the same frame of mind. I can read your words in my own voice and they sound like my own. I too am a dreamer married to an anchor and I have lost friends who don't understand that I have to accomplish and move on, and accomplish something new again. They honestly think that I must be miserable and I have "too much initiative for my own good". Others stick by me and tell me that I delight them because I am like that, so I guess it is not about me but about how I make them feel. Truth is, sometimes I am miserable and wish I could be content with sameness, but I have no choice. I get so bored if I am not moving forward learning or doing something new. I did just read something that I wanted to share however. In a spiritual newsletter that I enjoy that would probably be pretty far "out there" for most, it stated that those of us who have these very feelings are here to pave the way for others to see how they too might accomplish their dreams. It was not a coincidence that I read both your post and this one on the same day. Angels find all kinds of ways to get information to us and they make sure we don't miss it. Part of the newsletter stated that you might feel like you are going in circles – sound familiar? It advises to stop and give thanks for the gift and the courage you have to find ways to reach it, again and again. You are setting an example for those that will follow.Love your blog!! I am thankful to have a Circle Sister!!Christine

  25. Shannon says:

    As someone who has started and scrapped more blogs/ideas than I can count, I totally get you on this. I am always chasing the next carrot, but I give up way too easily because I really don't have any clear goals. Thank you for this post. I love that you own dream-chasing. "I was made to swim rather than soak" might be my new motto.

  26. been thinking of this post for a while now and i kind of love that i was born to soak. it is who i am. and that is more than ok for me.

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