Why You Can’t Dream for Other People (And How to Dream for Yourself)

I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of dreaming for other people. From partners to family members, and friends — I’ve had big visions for other people, and what I thought they should do with their lives.

I see SO much potential in other people. Sometimes I feel like I can look at them and know exactly what they’re supposed to do with their lives. But, just because I see that potential doesn’t mean the people I’m dreaming for do… or that they’re even interested in pursuing what I think they should pursue!

The truth is, 99% of the dreams I’ve had for other people have gone unrealized. And if I’m being honest, my time would have been WAYYYY better spent dreaming for myself.

If this resonates with you, and you’re also guilty of dreaming for other people… then read on. This is most definitely for you.

Here are 5 reason why you can’t dream for other people, and how to stop so you can dream for yourself:

1.) The freewill of others is theirs, and theirs alone.

Your partner might love to cook. Your mom might be a talented speaker. Your best friend might be able to paint like Michelangelo. And seeing these passions, you might think:

  • “My partner should be a chef! He loves to cook and is so good at it.”
  • “My mom has an affinity for words. She really ought to become a public speaker.”
  • “My best friend is an insanely talented artist. She needs to open a studio!”

While your observations are legitimate, and your dreams for these people are well-intentioned, the truth is everyone has freewill. And their freewill isn’t yours to control, or manipulate.

Rather than dreaming for other people, ask them what they want for their lives. Then, open your ears and listen. What you hear may surprise you and be completely different from what you think they should do.

2.) Personal desire is paramount for achievement.

You might desire for your partner to become a chef, or your friend to turn her art into a profitable business.

But, maybe your partner likes to cook because he finds it therapeutic and relaxing. And your friend might not want to put herself under pressure to turn her passion into a business. Oftentimes, talents and passions are given to us to help us find joy in our physical lives— not simply as a way to amass financial success and recognition.

What’s more, in the absence of personal desire, achieving a certain goal (no matter how much YOU want it for someone) is unlikely.

Rather than focusing on what you think other people should desire for their lives, take a few moments to close your eyes and travel inward. Take 3 deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Once you feel relaxed, ask yourself, “What do I desire for MY life?” Listen for the answer and then take action.

3.) Everyone has a unique timeline.

If you’re feeling frustrated because you see the potential in others, and think they should achieve whatever it is you dream for them by a certain date, then you’re forgetting one massive truth: everyone has a unique timeline.

Your mom. Your partner. Your friend. You. Everyone.

As opposed to trying to push people to accomplish your agenda, focus on your own timeline. In what ways can you continue to learn, grow and experience life? Make a list for yourself, and then spend time every single day working on YOUR list. Doing this will help you focus on your own dreams and goals, as opposed to your dreams and goals for other people.

4.) It turns people off.

Unsolicited “shoulds” are a huge turnoff. In addition to making people feel uncomfortable (or worse — bad about themselves), telling someone what they should do may also result in tension.

Here’s why: When you try to push your agenda for someone else’s life on them, it’s likely they’ll start to feel resentment. Especially if your dream for them is different from their dreams for themselves.

This scenario is common in parent/child relationships, where well-meaning parents try to control their child’s future career and lifestyle. Rather than allowing their child to be authentic, oftentimes parents push their children in certain directions. This creates a tense and somewhat stressful dynamic that is easily avoided simply by letting people dream their OWN dreams for themselves.

After all, if you’re too busy telling others what they should do with their life, then you’ll never know what they actually want to do. Your loved ones will feel silenced, and unheard. They may even think you don’t really care about them or their dreams.

Rather than offering unsolicited shoulds to other people, whenever you feel the urge to tell someone what they should do, ask yourself: “What should I do to take the next step toward my dreams?” Whatever your answer is… do that.

5.) Your job is to dream for yourself.

You may enjoy dreaming for other people and imagining all of the wonderful outcomes for their lives. But, if you’re too immersed in what others should or could become, you’ll completely lose sight of yourself!

Your dream is to dream for yourself. And you’re NEVER too old to begin… and it’s not too late to get started now.

If you don’t know what your dreams are, here are 3 questions to ask yourself today:

  1. What dreams are inside of me?
  2. How can I bring those dreams to life?
  3. In what ways would my life improve if I realized my dreams?

Your answers will bring you clarity, and set you on the path toward realizing your own dreams…

Now you know why you can’t dream for other people, and how to dream for yourself. Onward, my friend! You’ve got this.



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