What I learned from quitting: Lessons from the Dream Project

On quitting the Dream Project

A few weeks ago, I quit the Dream Project. It was a slow, dragging fade. I lost momentum only a few weeks in, and it was so disappointing because 1) it was such a good idea. I thought. And 2) I was inspiring people. And I love to inspire people. In that two-ish months of writing, I had at least 2 other people tell me about dream projects they started. And others submitted their precious dreams to me so I could share them and dream with them. 

It was invigorating. And it was exhausting. And I never knew why until today. 
I avoided the topic because I felt guilty about quitting. It was the kind of guilt that made me want to forget I’d ever started it. I felt like a total failure starting something so important as dreaming of how to fix the world, and then just tossing it. As if dreams don’t matter. 

But today I figured out why the Dream Project was so hard. And why I had to quit. And I don’t have to give up dreaming. 

I found this new app called Unstuck. If you own an iPad, please get it. It’s free, and it’s genius. I used the app to work on a “stuck” area of my life, which for me was the dream blog. I just didn’t know why I couldn’t gather the will to begin again. I worked on my stuckness, and with the help of the app – seriously – I discovered two reasons I gave up: 
1. I was unfocused. My dreaming was all over the place. I was trying to save little kids for human trafficking, solve marriage issues, get babies for my friends, an arts district in Manhattan, and keep up the health of my family and friends. My dreams were big, and they were many. That’s okay, but being without focus and vision is one of the fastest ways to lose momentum on a great idea. 

2. I could not dream honestly for myself out in public. My friends who started their own dream projects kept them to themselves. They were able to think up grand solutions and future visions for their families and the places in their lives that mattered most to them. As much as I trust readers, especially the small crowd that gathers here, there are some things that no one has the privilege to see. Sometimes not even Josh. Dreaming that has power, I found, is very intimate. Some dreams are just for me and God to see. 

So what now?
I really value authenticity so when I felt my inability to dream big for myself in the public forum of the blog, I lost my mojo. I still think dreaming is essential for people. I think it’s a sign of health to be able to think about possibilities. 

Dreaming means you possess a properly functioning mind. It is both your right brain creativity meeting with your left brain problem-solving to arrange and form alternatives and options and ideas that have never existed. 

The iPad I’m using now to tell you about the value of dreams was once simply a dream in Steve Job’s imagination. How much better an illustration can I give?

I am going to continue dreaming, but I will do it in two ways. The opposite of the Dream Project: 
1. I will dream big, but keep it to myself. Allow the safety of intimacy to allow the dreams to stretch and grow. 

2. I will stay focused. Narrow vision, with a telescope into the future. 

I hope this helps anyone trying to navigate this world of dreaming. These are my most profound lessons that I’ve taken from the Dream Project.  I don’t like failure, but I value courage and risk-taking more than I fear failure. So I took a chance, and I whiffed on my original goal. 

But I learned how to dream through it all. And I think that’s what matters most. 
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