I really want this new year to be special, don’t you?  2021 feels filled with possibility and the hope that was lacking in 2020. Even when we don’t have all the answers we’re craving; even though we are still living cautiously, life is moving forward and that’s a great thing. While we’ve had many restrictions on our freedom in the past year, I think it’s time to start dreaming again; to start planning again even if the timeline has to be adjusted.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt

We humans aren’t happy when we don’t have plans of some kind and that means using our beautiful imagination to create them. The great thing about the world we’re living in today is that we can actually have an experience without leaving the comfort of our home. I signed up for a virtual tour of Florence and Tuscany to remind me of an adventure my husband and I had a few years ago. I know it’s not the same as being there but I’ll get the feeling of having been somewhere other than my living room and that will hold me until we’re free to travel.

Science has good evidence now that virtual experiences, like the tour I mentioned, produce positive emotion, which helps to alleviate the stressors we’re all living with during this Pandemic pause. Nature programs, cooking classes and exercise classes not only relieve boredom but support the all-important social connections we all need to nurture wellbeing.

I wonder what’s on your dream list; what would bring you joy. Are you longing to learn a new language or brush up on one you haven’t used in a while? Are you dreaming of a face to face coffee date with a dear friend or a family reunion? Does your list include travel, an art or cooking class; maybe salsa lessons or are you interested in volunteering?

Dream lists are important because they give us full permission to plan without pressure. Our dream lists have been taken more seriously since Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson knocked items off of their bucket list in the movie of the same name. It feels good to plan something even if you don’t know when or how you’re going to achieve it. Having a list of dreams is enough to keep us curious and engaged as life moves forward.

Equally important, to keep ourselves inspired, is having a reverse bucket list or a reverse dream list. It’s an accounting of all of our accomplishments and achievements to date. We’re so conditioned to check items off of the To Do list and move on that we hardly recognize the dreams we’ve already brought to life. If you dreamed something and did it, that’s cause for celebration. Looking back allows us to recognize how powerful we are; how courageous and resilient we are. It’s also an indicator of where our joy can be found. It’s the fuel we require to keep us dreaming and doing.

I propose that we work on our dream lists. Start by doing your reverse dream list first and write down your achievements to date; then do your future dream list. Beside each item on that list, put one small step you can take in the direction of bringing that dream to life. Remember your dream list is just a guideline without any pressure and it’s always connected to infinite possibility. Let’s dream big and make 2021 our best year yet.

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