How to make a dream life love list

20/03/12

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Do you have a big dream? Do you set huge goals for yourself? Do you aim for something magnificent?

I know I do.

And recently, I have noticed that I’m always living one step ahead of myself.

Everything that I do seems to be part of this master plan. And there are so many things about that dream – not just the simple definition of it, but layers and layers of smaller dreams that gently contribute to the bigger castle in the sky. And like this, I catch myself thinking “if New York happens, then I’ll …” And what follows is a huge list of smaller things.

I’m sure you recognize the dangerous pattern: If/when/not until […] happens, then I’ll do […].

In other words, it’s easy to think that if only [Big Dream] happens, then I’ll be [happy.]

And sadly, that’s not the way it goes.

What if that big dream just isn’t in the cards for you? What if you realize Big Dream, and then feel exactly the same about your next dream? What if you suddenly fall ill and have only 4 weeks left to live? What if you figure out along the way that Big Dream just wasn’t your dream at all? Life changes – fast – and if you are always putting off living, you might end up not having lived at all.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

- from Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Putting all our efforts into one area of our life can be awesome, super-exciting and lead to great results. But it can also be very destructive, especially if you get caught up in the “If only”-trap. If you think this concept sounds familiar, just think about how a lot of people who suffer from Anorexia think about weight. (And not just people with eating disorders, but a lot of other people too). It’s so easy to believe that everybody will like you as soon as you hit that target weight. But we all know that it just doesn’t work that way. Similarly, it’s easy to think that you’ll have lots of friends if only you realize your dream of being self-employed. Or you’ll think that you’ll wake up in the morning loving yourself if only you get that book published. But it doesn’t work that way at all.

The key to overcome this is to focus on the here and now. What parts of your dream life can you achieve here and now?

Make a dream life love list

I encourage you to sit down for a minute with pen and paper. Reflect on your Big Dream and try to identify the different ingredients in your cake. If you close your eyes and think about your dream as a done deal – what do you feel? Where are you? What does it look like there?

Here are two of my own examples:

Dream One – Living in New York City being a location-independent writer
I feel like everything is possible
I work from cafés
I wake up early and walk the streets before everyone else is up
I have friends who also are writers
We drink coctails in the evenings
I’m part of a reading circle that meets somewhere with a fireplace
I get double soy vanilla lattes to take away
I go to concerts, art exhibitions, poetry readings
I walk and discover, write and reflect, walk and discover, have great conversations
I spend time deciding what to wear in the morning, always put on make-up and I wear gorgeous heels
I get my nails done regularly (because I’m a writer – I work with my hands!)
Did I mention that I have lots of writer and artist friends?
I spend my free time learning French, yoga, meditation, Japanese, I read novels and write poetry
I take tons of pictures of everything beautiful
I jog in central park

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? At least that’s my dream. What does your dream life love list look like? Make one for each dream if you have several.

Dream two – Speaking Fluent French
I read Vogue Paris, Elle, L’Officiel and Jaleuse (in French of course)
I watch all the cute French movies
I argue passionately with my lover (who also speaks fluent French in my dream)
I wear really simple clothes, but I still look laid-back, cool and feminine
I have a small huge summer house in south of France
I know what vines to order + I know how to taste one at at posh restaurant
I read French books in their original language
I order macarons from Laduree (Trois macarons, s’il vous plaît!)
French people will actually like me
I can write french poetry

Oh, yes.

Well, here’s the deal. It might take years and years before I manage to support myself being a location-independent writer. I might not even get a visa that will allow me to stay in NYC for more than 3 months at a time. I might never take the time to learn French. So let’s look at the dream life love list from a different perspective. It’s still the same lists, but I have removed the impossibilities, keeping only what can be done right here and now:

Dream One – Living in New York City being a location-independent writer
I feel like everything is possible
I work from cafés
I wake up early and walk the streets before everyone else is up
I have friends who also are writers
We drink coctails in the evenings
I’m part of a reading circle that meets somewhere with a fireplace
I get double soy vanilla lattes to take away
I go to concerts, art exhibitions, poetry readings
I walk and discover, write and reflect, walk and discover, have great conversations
I spend time deciding what to wear in the morning, always put on make-up and I wear gorgeous heels
I get my nails done regularly
Did I mention that I have lots of writer and artist friends?
I spend my free time learning French, yoga, meditation, Japanese, I read novels and write poetry
I take tons of pictures of everything beautiful
I jog in central park

Dream two – Speaking Fluent French
I read Vogue Paris, Elle, L’Officiel and Jaleuse (in French of course)
I watch all the cute French movies
I argue passionately with my lover (who also speaks fluent French in my dream)
I wear really simple clothes, but I still look laid-back, cool and feminine
I have a small summer house in south of France
I know what vines to order + I know how to taste one at at posh restaurant
I read French books in their original language
I order macarons from Laduree (Un Trois macarons, s’il vous plaît!)
French people will actually like me
I can write french poetry

Do you see what I see? Most of my dream life love list ingredients can actually be put into my life right here and now. I don’t have to live in NYC to go to concerts, jog in a park or have writer friends. I don’t have to know French to watch French movies (thank you, subtitles!) or learn how to order and taste vine. I would be awesome if I did live in NYC and knew how to make passionate arguments in French. But I don’t have to put off everything until that happens!

Implement your dream life love list in your daily life

From the lists you’ve created, identify at least two things you are doing already:

1. I am already working from cafés most of the time
2. I do already wear very simple clothes and I (hope I) already look laid-back and chic

Then make a list of at least three ingredients to your dream life that you do not already do, but can implemented in your present:

1. Buy french magazines, read what I  understand and look at the pictures
2. Jog and/or walk in a large park
3. Start a reading circle and find a location with a fireplace to meet regularly

Et voilà! That’s your dream life love to-do list right there.
The timing will never be right. Do it today.

 What does your dream life love list look like?

 

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenn March 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm

I love this! I’m a huge list person so it’s perfect! I’m taking this idea with me to my boring genetics class… will share when I’m done.

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Marthe March 22, 2012 at 7:05 am

Thank you! Hope you got some exciting plans out of your genetics class!

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Jenn March 22, 2012 at 11:13 pm

I tried but yours are just too perfect! I also wish I could speak French so I could only think about buying French magazines and being liked by the French folk. Your dreams are beautiful!

Let me know when you’re looking for apartments in NYC, I’m just a few leaps away!

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Indira March 20, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Love this! Thank you :)

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Marthe March 22, 2012 at 7:05 am

Thank you darling!

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Morgan March 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm

brilliant!
i love lists; this will come in handy

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Marthe March 22, 2012 at 7:05 am

Thank you!

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Mandy March 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I love the idea of seeing where you are already on your dream list! I’m going to have to ponder this for a bit. Thanks!

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Marthe March 22, 2012 at 7:06 am

Hope you got some exciting new insight!

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Amelia March 20, 2012 at 7:40 pm

What if you are not sure what your dream goals are any more?

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Marthe March 22, 2012 at 7:06 am

Amelia, this sounds really frustrating and confusing. Send me an e-mail if you wish?

I think I’ll write a post about this topic, so stay tuned!

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Lu March 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Sorry to butt in, but here’s something that helped me: start with the things you are sure you love and make a list. Like, you might want without any doubt to become a woman that is always flawlessly dressed. Or that reads very much. Or that volunteers in order to make a change. In time you may discover more specific goals, like where you want to live or what would you like your career to be. In time, everything will become clearer and you will know for sure what your dreams are. I’m still not there yet, but have made some progress and definitely learned more about myself. I hope you will, too:)

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Lu March 20, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Beautiful! Thank you, I needed someone to put things so simple!

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Marthe March 22, 2012 at 7:07 am

Thank you so much, hope you’re overflowing with new ideas and excitement!

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Kate March 21, 2012 at 12:05 am

This is so awesome & so true!!!!

Can’t wait to get my lists going tonight!

Thanks so much :)

Kate x

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Marthe March 22, 2012 at 7:07 am

Thank you <3

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Courtney March 21, 2012 at 3:18 am

Great idea! Your dream sounds perfect :)

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Marthe March 22, 2012 at 7:08 am

It does, doesn’t it! Going to make those dreams come true sooner rather than later!

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Katherine March 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Oh wow, what a great idea. I’m going to try this out as soon as possible… but first, I need to re-evaluate my dreams ;)

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Marthe March 22, 2012 at 7:08 am

Sounds like a good plan, Katherine! Re-evaluation is important sometimes!

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Megan March 22, 2012 at 4:02 am

What a great way to see the good in the life that you have right now. We all (me included) need to learn to live in the present and revel in the joy that is here now. Thanks for the inspiration.

I just discovered your blog and I love it :)

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Marthe March 22, 2012 at 7:08 am

Thank you so much, hope you stay for a while <3

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Rebecca March 23, 2012 at 7:07 am

Your NYC life sounds so dreamy! But you’ve also made me realise that there are things I can do right now to realise my dreams without boarding the next plane out of the UK. Thank you for sharing :)

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Marthe April 12, 2012 at 8:41 am

So great to hear that you’re inspired! There are so many ways to make dreams come true, all you need to do is to think a little outside of the box!

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Kimberley - Dream. Delight. Inspire. April 5, 2012 at 11:09 am

Marthe, I cannot express how much I love this post.

On the one hand I love it because it’s inspiring people to create luscious dreams and fully immerse themselves in them. On the other hand I love it because it’s helping people wake up to how they can fulfil parts of their dreams right here and now.

You’re fabulous honey. Keep doing what you’re doing. xx

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Marthe April 12, 2012 at 8:41 am

Thank you darling! xxx

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Lilli April 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Thank you for another inspired and inspiring post. I constantly find myself walking around with my head in the future, living in my dreams…this ‘exercise’ has reminded me that so many aspects of my dreams–attitudes, hobbies, etc.–can be and are part of my life right now, while I’m on my way to achieving the bigger dreams.

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Marthe April 12, 2012 at 8:42 am

I’m so happy to hear that you’re reminded of the awesomeness in your present. <3

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Jen April 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm

This was incredibly fun to read. I was right there with you in the ‘dream life’ #1 & 2! I’ve been doing a little bit of this as part of ‘The Artist’s Way’ (now in week 2) and the imaginary lives tasks are insightful. I’m in the throes of acting out some of the things that were in my list (doing some watercoloring, indulging in french films, etc) and it does give a different perspective – from constantly imagining to actually doing.

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Marthe April 12, 2012 at 8:43 am

Thank you!

I love the Artist’s Way too, and now you’ve inspired me to pick it up again! Definitely a book worth re-reading! :)

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corey April 17, 2012 at 8:03 pm

thank you, i love this! doing my lists now and taking action @ lunch time. all we need is a little reminder, a little sense, a little inspiration sometimes. so easy, yet so important. thank you.

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Marthe April 20, 2012 at 7:16 am

Yay! Hope you made some exciting plans and lists! :)

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Sophie June 19, 2012 at 3:03 am

(Some aka me) French people do like you :)

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Marthe June 20, 2012 at 3:53 am

Thank you darling! I like French people too! :) Merci!

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Yas July 12, 2012 at 2:08 am

Thankyou. Beautiful work! You’re a wonderful writer xx

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Carmen February 21, 2013 at 8:41 am

I absolutely loved this post! I struggle with hating the city where I live and try to live by this phrase, “Blossom where you’re planted” and it’s been so hard. But this post is so brilliant and gave me insight into living my dream life here. It’s so simple, but I didn’t think of it myself, so thank you! You’re list is adorable and I hope you get to New York, it IS fabulous! -Carmen

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Hanita Sol September 15, 2013 at 10:09 am

Thanks for this post! So inspiring!!! Xxx

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