A few weeks ago, I saw that my old friend and colleague Alex Baisley (pictured here) had launched a new program when I read the following words in an email from him:
“Have you been wanting to horse-back ride? Scuba dive? Take a weekend road trip? Get a tattoo? Play the song you wrote in front of people? Go canoeing or camping with your family or friends? Host a dinner party for your neighbours? Try bringing improv or acting into your life? Do a life-drawing class?
Maybe you’ve thought about writing poetry, or taking a Mediterranean cooking workshop in your community, or martial arts? Learn what opera or bluegrass is all about? What about an instrument, a language?
Just that… you haven’t got round to it. Could you use a nudge?
Would you be willing to listen to my project about: The 1000 Small Dreams Challenge?
My goal here is to inspire 1000 good salt-of-the-earth people across Canada (and in a few other countries – wherever you are!) to pursue a small dream that rocks them”
Small dreams are so important in business.
I see so many people going for something big and huge.
But business growth comes from small, little projects. In fact, most impressive, large and profitable businesses I know of come from this. Most non-profits start like this. They start small. I speak about this at length in my Niching Spiral Home Study Program: the need to create small, niche projects or experiments.
And so, I thought I’d interview him on this subject that he has a great deal of experience with.
What’s the story of this project? where’d it come from? what did you see was missing?
I’ve had the unusual opportunity to be on the ground of a lot of big dreams and new businesses for a long time. And I see ONE THING missing that would help folks bring them to realization a little or a lot sooner.
I’ve had the Big Dream Program for something over 15yrs now and I spend my days talking with folks – a lot of them – about Big Dreams they’ve had for years & businesses or lifestyles they so want to create for themselves – if ‘life’ didn’t keep getting in the way for them. Jobs, responsibilities, feeling paralyzed by too many possibilities… Maverick people who feel in their bones they are meant to be doing something more in this world, for this world. And living day-to-day in the way they dream of – such as more spiritual practice, leaving a soul-sucking job, more family time, or traveling.
And… though there are many reasons for these challenges, I have found that manifesting ’the dream’ depends on one capability that most of us are not nourishing well:
If this sounds like you, and if you’re anything like me… you have about eight journals-full of ideas and schemings, hundreds of hours spent brainstorming and daydreaming, you have taken classes on this sort of thing, but… for some of us (me included)… months slip the hell by. And then years. And still… it ain’t happening. Eff. This hurts.
My, and my clients’, hard-earned point of view: I don’t think in most cases we are ‘wanting’ for genius or a more finely tuned idea.
I think the problem is usually that our Big Dreams are so big – at least emotionally – that we don’t know where or how to start, OR get ourselves to ‘do it’.
Enter the Small Dreams muscle. (you can see what happened with Lisa and her showers project below, for instance)
If we want to make ‘anything’ happen – like making a sandwich, there is a base-line capability at play. Let’s call this the ‘I can do this muscle’.
The stronger and more ‘you’ this muscle is, the more you can create for yourself. Period.
How to work your Capability muscle? And quickly?
Make dreams happen. Now. Small Dreams. Have a blast working THAT muscle, and watch what can happen. Examples below.
Start a Small Dream. This week. Doesn’t matter if it’s related to your Big Dreams or not. The muscle doesn’t care. It. Will. Grow.
What is a ‘small dream’?
A Small Dream is this:
- Something you’ve been wanting to do, or explore for a long time, and not getting around to. Life is busy.
- Requires no extra time or money than you have already – meaning there is nothing ‘outside you’ standing in the way, except perhaps for lack of the beauty of more social encouragement ;)
- You give yourself a 3wk (21 day) window in which to do it.
In the Small Dreams Challenge, folks start with a workbook to help them decide what they’d like to do.
Why do small dreams matter? What’s the potential impact of people following them?
Small Dreams matter to a lot of us, because it’s SUCH A GREAT WAY to get started on something you care about, without turning it into some big thing we never get ‘round to. People are accomplishing things (examples below) that they’ve been thinking about for FOREVER. It develops the very muscle we may have been needing to accomplish our bigger dreams – such as starting that business!
Moreso: Small Dreams also matter for a much bigger ‘world reason’ which is 50% of why we are doing this, and publicly talking about it:
“You may not heal the whole planet with your small dream. But… you will contribute greatly to the ONE THING, I believe, that if anything is going to do it WILL heal our planet…
You become more sunshine, earth, and life-giving rain for the garden of the ideas in human hearts around you.
In other words, you help you and others unlock ideas and interests that WILL evolve our world further…
Here’s what I mean:
When we look around us at the world, or accidentally listen to the news, we can be taken out at the knees by the challenges in our world. At the same time… check this out…
- Someone, somewhere was Small Dreaming of ditching the car and bicycling to work, not realizing that it would inspire his neighbours and children to do the same. It ended up resulting in a career change to someplace closer – and WAY better job.
- Someone, somewhere is Small Dreaming of joining a pilates class. Little does she know she will meet Eshru there who will become her best friend, and change her life incomparably.
- Someone, somewhere is Small Dreaming of learning to ride a horse, and it’s about to make her feel so, so, so lovely and authentic inside. It’s going to feel like she found a piece of herself she didn’t know was missing until she found it. And her kids TOTALLY notice, and love the new Mom in the house. Her twinkle is back.”
Can you give ten examples of small dreams?
Lisa had been wanting to provide showers for the homeless community in her home-city. She and her team had been working on this idea for many months. It was a Big Dream. When she adopted the ‘what could I do within 3 weeks’ Small Dream idea… they wound up giving showers, and more to homeless folks in exactly 3.5 weeks. Success.
Natasha started and completed her first Small Dream: She and her hubby had been dreaming for a long time of doing a honeymoon camping trip. They did it! From Natasha: “I LOVE camping! So does my husband, Patrick, except he also loves his hairdryer (he does have REALLY nice hair!!) Finding a minute to sneak away is hard so we opted out of a big ticket honeymoon. After being together in 1990 for 1yr9months, finding each other again after 21years to be together, I finally married the love of my life this summer. Sneaking away just the 2 of us is extra special w 4 amazing kids, 2 dogs & 2 rabbits & busy jobs! It isn’t where you go; it’s who you’re with that makes any moment special.”
Michelle took new look at a small ‘storage’ room in her apartment. She went to work a few days ago in the Challenge, and here’s what happened:
from Michelle as a poem: “storage room goes from stagnating, boxes and bags of clutter, to beautiful oasis meant for, relaxing, reading and marvellous meals, homemade hamburgers with pickles and coleslaw on a pretzel bun” Well done Michelle! She’s now working on her book of poetry.
Michael started a Small Dream some time ago, and here’s what he said about where it LED to: “I always wanted to be on stage in front of alot of people and so i started telling stories to youngsters. 10 yrs later i met Alex, and started to tell at an open mic in front of a storytelling community. And now I not only tell, but am paid to PERFORM (with my whole spirit and body) in front of dozens of kids – who are a tough and most rewarding audience. I’m not quite at my full dream yet, but its coming!”
Cathy had been reading and salivating over the book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” and dreaming of transforming her home. She joined the 1000 Small Dreams Challenge. From Cathy when she started: “My small dreams challenge is to purge my home… I’ve been wanting to do this FOREVER and I keep putting it off. So for the next 21 days I am tackling a different aspect of the house (ie. clothes or a particular room).” Well she’s half-way through now, posting pictures every day, and just wrote this beautiful blog post called ‘My Suitcase and Letting Go ‘about her experience. (http://www.fortheloveofmommy.ca)
Me, Alex, I founded this challenge, and I’m the same as every other leader in there. I picked a Small Dream for myself. EFT is SO helpful for me – it changes my life. AND I seem to avoid it like the plague. Armed with the beautiful encouragement in the group, I’m now on Day 7 of doing 20mins of EFT every day. And it’s making SUCH a difference, my god.
Nicole has been writing poetry for years. And she loves it. After some deliberation in our challenge, she decided she was going to do something about this. She’s now compiling her book of poetry. Accountability for her (and many of us) in the group has been key for her now being at least a third of the way through completing her dream project.
From Jill in the Challenge: “Hi all. I’m glad to be in the group! I’ve been thinking all week about what I want to challenge myself with and … I wanted to commit to making 2-3 new recipes each week. I love buying beautiful cookbooks and never end up using them… My first recipe tackled last night …Baked Brie with candied pecans, raisins, brown sugar and phyllo pastry. The guests gobbled it up!”
From Sarah: “Hi everyone – my small dream is to organize my time / activities better…so I can enjoy what I do…and also enjoy my down-time (because I won’t be over-thinking about what it is that I think I should be doing….). When I do this (set a schedule) my mind feels free, my stress lessens, I sleep better, eat better (who knew planning my food would actually help?) So – I’ve ordered a School year planner from a company called Passion Planner – and I’m looking forward to using it. I’ve also created a month envelope system for collecting all receipts, etc.” And Sarah has motored ahead with these things since.
Others: Gerri is finishing her book, Heather has designed and begun a 21-day self-love practice, Carol is taking a horseback riding lesson, Anne is doing an abstract art 21-day challenge for herself, Olivia has launched a workshop in her hometown, and Bill is finalizing his plans for a permaculture-based Challenge for himself. And there are piles more stories happening in here as I write this. Two posts just came up in our group with new Small Dreams while I write this. Yay!
What are the top three mistakes you see people making when tackling their small dreams?
- Not starting one.
- Too big. Choosing something that requires something they don’t yet have. (money, time, resources) – the essential point of a Small Dream is to evolve our accomplishment muscle. Ergo, I suggest choosing something with who you are, and what you have NOW.
- Going it alone. In my personal experience – I’m doing 21 days of EFT and I’d have NOT done it several days now due to ‘busy-ness’, but knowing I can post my daily ‘accomplishment’ in the group – and get pats on the back to be honest – is the ONLY thing that got me through the times I didn’t want to do it. I see the same echoed over and over again in our group. Bottom line – try not to do it alone. Join us in our group OR get yourself a buddy to do your Small Dream with. Judging by our members so far, 90% of these small dreams would not have left the gate or got past day 5 were we not excited to post about our developments each day.
What are the top three tips you’d give people?
Choosing a Small Dream? Well aside from the pitfalls to avoid above, here’s what I recommend after YEARS of experience:
- Fun Over Duty: Choose something fun or meaningful rather than something you just think you SHOULD do and honestly are just not caring about right now. Work your Small Dreams muscle first – and then you may find more energy or inspiration for some of the should-dos.
- Share the heck out of your accomplishments, and even your challenges: Small Dreams are wickedly contagious. When you talk about them with other people, or share on social media, we have found a PILE of folks pick up on the energy of it. You can absolutely help others who might be feeling very stuck, or alone, with your Small Dream.
- Re-consider the ‘I’m too busy thing’: A Small Dream doesn’t take more time or energy or money than you already have – I know you’re busy. My wife says that even when she’s quite full, she has a whole other stomach for a nice dessert. I believe she is right. Such is true also of small dreams and busy-ness. You’ve got a whole other ‘schedule’ for a bit of gorgeous Small Dream-ness, I reckon.
Can you offer up some Small Dream ideas to get people started thinking?
- Design your very own daily spiritual or fitness practise based on activities that light you up – that you would like to commit to for 21 days.
- Take a class on some topic that interests you: art, economics, permaculture, growing your own food, history…
- Design you own educational experience for yourself for 3 weeks to explore something.
- Pick a little doable goal for learning a new language, an instrument… Committing to a couple of lessons for instance, or getting yourself to the point you can order a simple meal or ask directions in Japanese.
What I think you’ll get, and not get, from a Small Dream Challenge whether with us, or on your own:
You may not suddenly become a perfectly-together buddha of a human being from doing a Small Dream. Didn’t work for me at any rate. It would seem, alas, I’m still imperfect (according to my teenagers anyway). But… you will become a lot more YOU in doing a small dream. This is the #BestGoalEver
Your ‘Small-dream-into-reality’ muscle will get stronger, and that means your more-buff muscle is available for another Small Dream, or a full-on Big Dream, or something for your family or career… you can start making new moves in your daily life, open up doors you couldn’t before because the doors were too heavy.
And… I think doing Small Dreams also, quite simply, makes our lives, and US, more interesting :)
Where can people learn more about your project?
If you would like to find out more about joining our 1000+ Small Dreams Challenge:
Here is the way in to our Challenge:
Here is our Private Facebook workgroup – The Small Dreams Forge – though you’ll need to register before coming in.
We are open for the summer – or maybe longer, and the price is a whopping $23 Can. You can do as many Small Dreams as you wish. There is also an optional (low-priced) Advanced Keener Club coming down the road for folks who want to turn Small Dreams into a life or WORK change. :)
Ongoing updates on my personal FB profile.
Personal note from Alex:
I would love, for many reasons, to persuade you to join the 1000 Small Dreams Challenge and let me post about your accomplishments. And to give you the power of our beautiful social group. But… sales pitch aside…
I just really want you to start a Small Dream. Or a new one.
And if you do so, but prefer not to do it in our challenge, I would love one thing SO MUCH:
Would you write to me and tell me about it. I would like to hear if this post influenced you to try something new you’ve been wanting to do. And let me inspire others with your example. I’m talking to people every single day about what people are getting up to with their Small Dreams, and it makes a difference to them when I do. It is contagious. Inspiring. If you get up to something, tell me about it!