“Keep a little fire burning, however small, however hidden.” — Cormac McCarthy, Author
I had a conversation with a wonderful classmate of mine the other day. He took an incredible risk by following his dream. He moved his family to a new country, turned down an exceptional opportunity within the organization he worked for and went back to school full-time. Most people he talked to were in awe of his decision, but he expected that. What surprised him was how many people mentioned that they too had a dream, but they weren’t ‘brave’ enough to take the chance. They couldn’t imagine doing what he had done. They kept their dreams on lockdown, tamped and filed away, labelled as fancy and fantasy.
I didn’t relocate my family, but when I made the decision to go back to school, people called me brave too. I had a hard time reconciling the word brave with my decision. I was just acting—doing. Nothing brave about that. But in a world where so many people extinguish their own fires out of fear, going against the grain or changing our entire worlds is brave and awe inspiring.
There’s an expression: “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” What we know is comfortable—it’s safe. Taking a leap on nothing more than a dream is frightening. There’s no guaranteed outcome. We could fail… miserably. Not many of us are willing to take that risk. Sometimes it’s much easier to stay the course. After all, if things aren’t terrible, why rock the boat?
Deep inside, smoldering within each of us, is a small fire. In yoga, we call it our third chakra—Manipura. Hanging out near our solar plexus, this little bundle of spit and vinegar guides our will and motivation. It drives our passion. It’s the spark, the fire that lights us up and gets us going. We can’t let that flame blow out. We can’t let our dreams die.
Most of us have heard about SMART goals. One of the keys to a good or SMART goal is making sure it’s attainable. There are short-term and long-term goals, but all goals involve making meaningful movement forward by enacting small tactics or actions toward their achievement. Dreams, on the other hand seem like far-fetched unattainable, insurmountable wishful thinking. But what if we approached dreams like goals… deliberately making small changes, small decisions, small movements in the desired direction. Passion keeps the fire burning. Even if it’s just a gentle smolder, let your passion propel you in the direction you want to go.
Dreams can come true. One small step at a time. Find ways to move in the direction of what will make you happy. Never let your fire burn out.