What to Do Before You Start Dreaming About Your Future

January seems to be the month where every dreamer and goal chaser comes out of the closet to declare their new life habits that will lead to success.

The gyms are filled, the snooze button is ignored, and low carb foods are in the refrigerator. In the midst of all the frenzy, I have been inspired not only to write out simple resolutions, but to take a leap in my imagination and start to dream again. Because at the end of the day, resolutions won’t matter if they don’t spring from a dream that runs deep in our heart.

Almost all of our actions can be traced back to a dream or desire. If your dreams are small, then you will probably find yourself doing meaningless and boring actions. If your dreams are big, then even the small actions will be driven by a greater goal. It’s easy to stop dreaming and simply get stuck in a routine of doing things you don’t enjoy. Often, this happens when you haven’t dealt with your past. Whether it be past successes, failures or losses—if your mind is stuck in the past then it cannot dream for the future.

So before you get to dreaming, here are a few things you should do first:

Celebrate Your Success

What have you accomplished in the last few years? What are you proud of? It might even be a small thing, but take the time to celebrate the success.

Did you get a new job? Did you keep an old job? Did you push through relationship problems? Did you overcome financial obstacles? Did you reach physical health goals? Did you make new friends? No success is too small to celebrate.

Take time to actually write down what you accomplished and don’t leave anything out. You’ll be amazed by how far you’ve come, and it will encourage you to dream even bigger for this year and beyond.

Learn from Your Failures

I honestly don’t like to use the word “failure.” A mistake only turns to a failure when you don’t learn from it. Just because something wasn’t successful doesn’t necessarily mean it failed. If you’ll take an honest look at how you messed up, you can turn it into a learning opportunity that will create future success for you.

Your actions don’t define you. What’s been done to you doesn’t define you either. If you’re a Christian, your identity is based in Christ and what He’s done, not in your actions.

Don’t excuse or gloss over all your mistakes, but don’t allow your past mistakes to define you, either. Instead, learn from them and define yourself as someone who is growing and continually learning how to live from the place of truth. The truth is this: You are loved completely, and you are a child of God.

As you learn from your past, you need to begin changing your self-talk. You are not a product of your past failures, but you are a product of your thinking. Instead of labeling yourself as a “failure” or “unsuccessful” or “wounded” or whatever other negative thing your mind might say about you, transform those words to “successful, healthy, whole, powerful, strong, loved” and other words that are true about you. Start saying something different about yourself and just maybe you’ll see a difference in your attitudes, actions and outcomes.

Mourn Your Losses and Let Old Things Go

What past situations do you need to let go of? What things in your past do you need to mourn, bury and completely release?

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We’ve all seen this in the lives of our friends—they hang on to an ex who just strings them along instead of noticing the kinder and more positive potential partners around them. Of course, it’s easy to notice it in others, but what about ourselves? Are there situations in your life that you need to let go? Sometimes you can’t launch into new horizons—or even see new horizons—until you get your eyes off of the old and start looking ahead.

It could be a job you lost that you just can’t get over. It could be a relationship you constantly want back. It could be a loved one you lost and you need to allow yourself to mourn. These may be good things, but just because they were good at one time doesn’t mean that you should cling to them. It takes maturity to recognize when something is over and to allow yourself to move forward.

Part of letting go is actually taking the time to celebrate the positive aspects of those past moments and to grieve over the negative parts. Write them down, talk to a friend or counselor about them, thank God for the positive times and trust Him with the negative circumstances. But at the end of the day, don’t hold onto them.

You might need to let go of bitterness and unforgiveness from a former season of life, as well. It could be anger toward a person who mistreated you, frustration at yourself or even bitterness toward God. Invite God and others to help you learn to forgive others and yourself. Don’t allow bitterness toward God or others to remain in your heart. Take responsibility for your part of the past, forgive others and trust God with the unknowns. This is the healthiest way to move forward.

This article was originally posted at blaiseforet.com. Used with permission.

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