Why It's Crucial to Dream in Order to Thrive
“When we dream great things, beautiful things, we draw close to God’s dream, the things that God dreams for us.” Pope Francis
Dreaming changed the course of my life.
I was reminded of this fact a couple of weeks ago when listening to the Abiding Together’s recent podcast episode, How to Begin Dreaming.
I was lucky enough to be told when I was growing up that “I could do anything I put my mind to,” but over the course of growing up, that mindset became narrower.
I felt crushed by the pressure to achieve the worldly definition of success and have a linear career path. Dreaming seemed impractical and I was too impatient; I needed a direction and decision. By the time I was finishing college, I felt like I didn’t have time to dream.
Almost a year later, my world was flipped upside down. I was finishing up year one of a two-year theology Master’s program that I genuinely loved.
One spring day, I was sitting in my apartment and I suddenly had a sinking feeling in my heart, one that had been raising in my chest for a few months and I could no longer push down. I realized that as much as I enjoyed studying theology, there was another dream on my heart that I had been ignoring.
I was absolutely terrified in that moment. Then and there, I confronted the fact that I was a pivotal point in my life. I had followed the path the Lord had intended for me, but He wanted me to change directions, to step out into the unknown.
The thing was, it wasn’t a fully formulated dream. I was never one of those lucky kids who always knew what they wanted to do with their lives. I am what I like to call “multi-passionate.”
I had no idea where this new direction was leading me to but I knew that I had two choices: 1. I could continue on the path I was on, complete my theology degree and stay comfortable or 2. I could explore this new explore this dream of mine, trust the Lord and see where He leads.
I decided to take a chance on my dream. Over the next four months, I intentionally paid attention to the tiny desire in me: the desire to work in the secular world as a communications professional.
I didn’t know if I wanted to work in PR or marketing. I didn’t know if I wanted to go into journalism. I didn’t have a degree or background in those areas. But I did know that I needed to take this dream seriously.
I spent hours upon hours on LinkedIn searching for women in the communications field that I admired and reaching out to them for an introduction. I applied to three different communications programs in D.C. I spoke with spiritual directors, mentors and friends to discuss the best course of action. I finally was accepted to a Masters in Communications program and started my new career path.
Now, four years later, I’ve worked in non-profit communications, public relations and started my own digital marketing agency. On a day-to-day basis, I am running a company with eight employees and working with women business owners to cultivate their own dreams. I would have never expected that this would be my life five years ago.
The Lord doesn’t see dreaming as frivolous or silly; He sees it as a crucial step towards us living out our vocation and following His will.
Throughout biblical history, God uses dreams to communicate with His people. Gabriel appeared to St. Joseph in a dream, telling him to take Mother Mary as his wife. From a young age, Samuel had visions that directed the course of his life. Our dreams are nothing to scoff at but rather they are signals that we should be attentive to.
Here are a few tips to help you dream bigger.
1. Pay attention
It’s important to discover dreams at each stage of your life. Life changes quickly so it’s important to really listen to what your heart and the Lord is telling you at the moment. Are you in a season of discovery, waiting to recognize a new dream? Are you in a quiet season of patiently waiting to take action? Or maybe you’re living your dream and are looking to discover your next step? Wherever you are on your journey, if you devote the time to ask the Lord to show you the deepest desires of your heart, He will certainly do so. Make sure to journal and reflect on what you’re discovering in this process.
2. Step out in faith
Here’s the thing, no one ever has it all figured out. If someone tells you they do, they’re lying. It can be scary to dream, but it can also be exciting! Your dreams are worth the time, money and effort needed to make them a reality. Start small. Do some research and see what’s needed to make one small step towards your dream.
3. Find community to push you
Complacency is dangerous. You need a community to help you cultivate your dreams, challenge your unbeliefs and refine your strategy. Search for other women in your local community or church who share your same interests or work in the field that you’re interested in pursuing. We hope that Catholic Women in Business’s Facebook group can be one space where you find a community that is supportive and caring.
My prayer for you is that you dare to dream and that you decide to that your desires are worth of pursuit. I’ll be here cheering you on!
Elise Crawford Gallagher is the founder and CEO of RINGLET, a digital marketing and brand management agency that works with women business owners in the Washington DC area. Elise graduated with a Masters in Communication from Johns Hopkins University. She worked in the Catholic non-profit world before starting RINGLET. Her concentrations were in Public & Media Relations and Digital Communications. Elise currently lives in Maryland with her college-sweetheart-turned-husband who is a high school theology teacher and law student.