It’s one of those statements that caught me a little off-guard when I first read it: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” I thought dreams were supposed to be free and simple, floating in a blue sky like white, puffy clouds. Uninhibited. Undefined. The thought of being scared by my dreams surprised me at first. Who’s scared of a white, puffy cloud? It was cause for thought. What are my dreams? How big are they? How real are they? Everyone has a “someday” list. Someday, I’d like to live in a brick townhouse on Park Avenue-esque street. Will I ever live in a house like this? Maybe. Am I actively pursuing it? No. As I interrogated myself, I realized this really doesn’t qualify as a dream. A dream requires goal-setting and small action steps. White, puffy clouds aside, what are my real dreams and how am I actively pursuing them?
Last year, I dreamt of teaching at the college level. Fourteen months later, I am in my third semester of adjunct teaching and was recently asked to prepare a new class for the spring. Exciting, yes. A great opportunity, yes. Daunting, yes. A dream that scares me, yes. Let’s be honest – I had a mini meltdown just thinking about it this morning. “When will I have time between now and then to read through three textbooks? How will I be able to write out all of my lectures, make slides, and come up with assignments on top of my current teaching load?” I lamented. The answer is simple in hindsight: action steps.
1. Make an outline of the chapters in each textbook. 2. Distribute chapter reading over course of semester (how many chapters on average per week?) 3. Skim each chapter and pull out relevant information. 4. Determine measures for evaluation (quizzes, tests, papers, projects, presentations, etc.) 5. Create measures for evaluation 6. Determine presentation methods (combination of lecture, slides, music listening, student presentations, etc.)
I remember how I felt in the weeks prior to my first day of college teaching (late last summer). Expecting the unexpected. Uncertain but confident.
Do your dreams have limits? Are they bigger than life? Do they scare you just a little bit? Dream big – what do we have to lose?