LearnThe Value in Dreaming Big


Josh Long
writes on August 26, 2013

I often find myself rolling my eyes or getting a little sick to my stomach when I see people with bios that say “dreamer”, “I play big”, “I dream big”, or “I help people fulfill their dreams”. Over the years I’ve grown more in favor of people that work hard and consistently ship great work, as opposed to people that just talk big.

My view of the world has become more “practical” the older that I get.

That being said, I find myself “thinking big” again. I think about people like Richard Branson or Elon Musk and say to myself, “well, somebody has to do it”.

The worldview that we’ve been trained to have is one that says we’re to follow the rules, be good at one thing, and find our place in the assembly line. (Don’t think for a minute that a desk job isn’t part of an assembly line as well.)

We hold back from having big dreams because we’re afraid of what people will say, or we’re afraid of looking like an idiot. I think this is true if you aren’t taking practical steps along the way, but I don’t see anything wrong with dreaming big. Then, there’s always this:

“The desire that we have to do something that’s never been done before means that the people who are around you generally will not encourage you to do it…if they were encouraging you to do it, then other people would be doing it already and it wouldn’t be unique.” – Seth Godin

It’s important to know your dreams, but to keep them to yourself for the time being. Instead, know your end dream but build the small things it will take to get there. Eventually, people will start to put things together. After all, Richard Branson started out with a small record store, not a spaceship.

Dreams are Risky

We live in an era when if it’s not risky, it’s not worth doing. If your idea is a safe, plastic idea that already exists, people would already be doing it and it wouldn’t seem like much of a “dream”.

I keep looking to have enough guts to do something that might not work. The phrase “this might not work” is something I try to say on a regular basis after reading the great books and posts from Seth Godin.

Another question I try to ask is, “Who can I impact today and how can I do it in a way that in four years from now, they’ll be glad I did?”. This seems to be a good way to discover a pace that balances getting things done today, with reaching the dream in the end.

People get discouraged and put off chasing after their dreams because they keep waiting for everything to be okay so that they can start. I think if your goal is for everything to be okay, that’s a mistake. It’s never going to be a perfect time to start. Just go.

Combine dreaming big with shipping a small part of it every day, and I think you’ll have a formula for success.


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8 Responses to “The Value in Dreaming Big”

  1. Suffolk Sammy on September 8, 2013 at 8:13 am said:

    Not only that but the negativity you encounter sets you back. I had a dream to become this big youtube star and the amount of people that criticize your work. You have to have self-belief in buckets too http://www.youtube.com/suffolksammy

  2. Ali R. Tariq on September 1, 2013 at 10:20 am said:

    Another great post, Justin. I always look forward to your write-ups in every Treehouse newsletter.

    Two years ago I found myself in a very armchair-esque point of my life, dreaming of all the things I wanted to be. I decided to jolt myself into action, quit my job, moved away from home, went to school and then started my own thing.

    It’s been tough, and occasionally I still see myself slipping too far back into Dreamer mode rather than Action mode. I decided I needed to get myself to start making things on a daily basis. Anything. Some of my Dreamer friends said this could be a good project for them too. So I’ve been asking people whether they could use a push and support group to help get them into a daily routine of Action.

    https://www.turnmvp.com/4f is my way of knowing whether people want to take the first step in moving from Dream mode to Action mode. I apologize for the plug, but I figured it was very relevant to this theme.

  3. All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them its my moto in life!!! I really enjoyed the article… and you’re wright, you must dream big all the time!!!
    anunturi galati

  4. Gemma W. on August 30, 2013 at 4:08 pm said:

    I’m a dreamer but I understand fully that I have to take action if I want to make any of my dreams come true.

    But, I’m torn between different ambitions.

    Right now I’m attracted to freelancing, and in a couple of years time I want to fulfil my ambitions in building small/medium businesses that make a difference to the world in some meaningful way.

    On the other hand, I’m very attracted to the education sector/teaching.

    Part time lecturer or supply teacher while I be a businesswoman?

    I don’t know. :/

  5. LockedownDesign on August 30, 2013 at 3:30 pm said:

    Less talk, more walk. Sounds like a good formula. The part about keeping your dreams to yourself is an aspect not many people talk about, but it’s true. Most of your friends may not understand what you have in mind.

  6. believing in hardworking will help you to have average success , dreaming big will make your success above average

  7. Why delivering is a great characteristic to have… If someone is consistently delivering bad work, they at least are delivering something. I can apply this article to myself. I have a notebook of great ideas for websites or businesses, but if I never act on them… Then we’re just talking.

    The initiative is what we need to concur the fear of failure. But it is the drive that we must ensue to produce an identity.

  8. Ye gads man, totally with you on the “I’ve grown more in favor of people that work hard and consistently ship great work, as opposed to people that just talk big.”
    I know someone’s gotta do it but it would be awesome if only the people capable of delivering on those dreams would do it XD I think the ‘whole finishers not starters, please‘ preference is just part of the pragmatism that comes with growing up. Having said that, shipping a little each day is a great way to go about it. Cheers for sharing this-blog post of the week.

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