"When I was a young boy, I was often chastised for daydreaming," says Carers NZ life coach Richard Blakeborough.
"Get your head out of cloud cuckoo land. Stop daydreaming. Grow up."
The thing was, I enjoyed daydreaming.
It was fun to imagine how things could be, who I could become, what I could do.
It was interesting to see where these daydreams would ‘take me’.
I was still daydreaming when I went to university.
One day, at a psychology lecture, I was staring out of the window.
“What on earth are you doing?” asked the lecturer.
Honest as ever, I replied “daydreaming”, and waited for the coming storm.
I was expecting him to say that daydreaming was a waste of time and I should focus on my studies, get real, stop frittering my life away.
The lecturer surprised us all that day.
"Good for you!" he said. "Daydreaming is an excellent pursuit."
"It’s good for your mental health to dream. Dreams tell you about your innermost thoughts and interests. What are you dreaming about?"
The lecture topic was cast aside that day as we instead discussed dreams, goals, visualising, imagining.
I still daydream today because, well, it’s a bit of fun.
It’s a fantasy where I always win and always reach my goal.
Sometimes, after a really good daydream, I feel different: more confident, ready to ‘do things’.
These feelings can stay with me all day, although I dream less often of slaying dragons, winning the hearts of princesses, being a hero who saves the world, or being a centre forward for Manchester United.
The reason for such positive feelings, I now know, is that daydreams are powerful messengers from your subconscious mind.
It is your deep and innermost mind that percolates these daydreams up to your rational thinking mind.
They are almost an offering to the rational mind: "hey, this is an area we are interested in".
Sadly, for most of us, the rational mind, which has been developed over millennia to protect us, will normally come up with reasons why our bold ideas are absolutely ridiculous. Then our dreams end.
We have to train ourselves to let go and indulge in a good daydream which, for me, tend now to be about what I can achieve in areas that interest me in my life.
I use them to harness the power of my mind, health, wealth, mental control, spirituality.
This translates into dreams such as weighing 78 kilos, having a job that pays $100,000 a year, listening to the crowd's applause after I give a speech, and not giving in to road rage.
They are also destination based maps.
Daydreams reveal to me what I am interested in doing and where I'd like to go without the negativity of my rational mind.
Daydreams don’t judge or rationalise or dismiss.
So as an exercise, why not be a little playful for 10 minutes a day?
Grab a coffee and just sit, staring out of the window, and pay attention to ‘what comes up’.
See what your subconscious reveals to you.
Don’t rationalise, just write down the thoughts that rise from your subconscious.
Trust me, your mind is a very sophisticated ‘rationaliser’, so give it 10 minutes off work today and just play.
I appreciate that for some of you the idea of imagining winning a $10 million Lotto draw seems, well, silly.
However, within that dream is the nucleus of what you would do if you actually won, and reveals what you are really interested in.
You can then work with the dream and modify it, focusing on certain areas.
You could, for example, start to take small steps towards the holiday you thought about when you fantasied about the big win.
One small step towards that holiday might be, do I have a passport?
What would I need to do to get one?
How much does it cost to get a passport?
Where do I get a passport photo taken?
Or, where would I actually go if I went on holiday?
These are modest achievable steps towards that holiday goal; taking even one of those steps brings you closer to your dream than you were yesterday.
If you carry on playing you can add these small steps up and, in a month, you will be closer still to taking that dream holiday even though you haven't won $10 million.
Don't forget to have fun with your daydreams: it's only a game, just 10 minutes a day.
Play and enjoy the good feelings you get even if you don’t take any physical steps (fun though these can be).
Let me give you a solid example.
A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of coaching Eileen Smith.
She and I spent an hour on the phone as part of a free offer made to family carers by the national charity Carers NZ and Family Care.
Eileen had a dream to write a book about her experiences with young onset Alzheimer’s disease and the journey she and her husband Ray were on.
She wanted to tell her story to alert and assist others, and create something powerful from an experience that wasn't so great.
Eileen shared the dream with me.
She breathed life into this dream.
She thought about her dream every day.
That dream is now a book called The Black Hole.
What’s exciting is that Eileen is still playing, still dreaming.
She now gives presentations to help build awareness of early onset Alzheimer's even further.
Eileen still has other dreams, too.
In her own words, she "retired in 2011 and moved to Gulf Harbour. Lots of places I want to see and things I want to do."
Dreaming works! And now I'm off: it's time for me to spend 10 minutes doing what Walt Disney called ‘imagineering’.
Make your dreams come true!
I recently read The Way of the Seal by Mark Devine, a book about how elite warriors use their minds as powerful tools to help them do things some of us only dream of. One idea I would share with you is called Fantasise with Purpose:
Step 1 ‘See it’ Use the dreams that come to you when you sit with a cuppa and get clear about what they are telling you. Then get clear about what you want.
Step 2 'Imagine It' Start thinking about, daydreaming about, fantasising about getting that thing you want.
Step 3 'Practise It' Run your daydream through your mind daily.
What does all this playing give you?
It gives you an idea of your innermost thoughts and desires.
It gives you a process to get clear on what your dreams mean to you.
It gives you a way to start moving towards your dreams. Small steps are better than no steps at all!