While I’ll be focussing on travel goals and making the steps towards booking that trip you want to take, I like to think the same theory can apply to other dreams too! It’s a popular topic covered by the likes of Forbes for the professionals looking to stop wishing and start getting what they want from careers and even advocating why travel can help you advance your career, to Lonely Planet’s own Instagram stories who remind us of the following:
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.” – Laozi
No matter what your dreams might be, here are a few ways to understand our wishes and desires through philosophy, and a few ways I’m working on making my dreams a reality.
What The Philosophers Say About Making Dreams A Reality
Philosophy of Desire
A number of philosophers have commented on theories of desire over the years. From Strawson to Lewis and beyond, largely contemporary philosophers (those of the 20th Century) have debated what it means to desire. Consequently, we have a number of theories to consider when it comes to the Philosophy of Desire. For the sake of speed and not completely changing the subject, I’ll focus on just a couple of primary ones: the action-based theory and the pleasure-based theory.
Action-based theories of desire lean towards the overarching concept that “having a desire is a matter of having dispositions to act”. There have been several issues raised with this, firstly being far too broad (would itching my arm be a desire?!), and leading up to the definition’s lacking distinction between “judgements of what is good” and “desires”, despite it being clear they are very different. A reasonably satisfactory addition to the action-based theory is to say that the action must fulfil a purpose – that being, to bring about the satisfaction of the desire.
A little more to-ing and fro-ing leads philosophers to an action-based theory of desire that says we should supplement our definition with other elements, namely, pleasure. And now we move onto our second theory: pleasure-based theories of desire.
These theories are of the opinion that the following definition applies to desire: For one to desire something, then one is disposed to take pleasure in the object (and displeasure in the absence of it).
Combined, the action-based and pleasure-based theories are what I would say are most important here. While there are plenty of other theories floating about, I do consider that when it comes to moving forward with making dreams a reality, that we are in fact taking action to satisfactorily reach something that gives us pleasure (among other great states!).
Challenges To Seizing The Day
Moving on from the philosophical chatter, there are plenty of idioms and proverbs to emphasise why you should dive right into life: YOLO, carpe diem, no time like the present, follow your dreams, and so on. Why have these phrases become so common, yet we so often still do not heed our own advice?
It seems to me, that there are so many excuses that can be made to avoid doing the things that we want to do. Finances, time, commitments, external and internalised judgement, which are mostly absolutely valid reasons – but there are a few who manage to find a way to do the things they want to do, right now. How did they manage to overcome these challenges?
How can I afford to travel?
How can I make the time to travel?
If your job has a certain number of annual leave days, make the most of them! Where Charlie Wanders has some great advice on doing just that: make each day count and get smart with bank holidays for extra days off!
If your job can be done from home, how about asking your employer to work remotely to give you a few extra days in your destination? It may mean working while away, but if you’re up for the challenge and plan your day right you can still have a healthy afternoon or evening to enjoy your new surroundings.
How can I leave family and friends?
It can be hard to drop your normal life in favour of distant, mysterious places, but if it’s something that calls to you there should be nothing in your way. Saying goodbye to friends and family is challenging, wondering if you’ll be able to keep in touch as much as you’d like, thinking if they’ll be ok without you and you without them. A frank and honest discussion about how you’re all feeling about an imminent departure is the best way to quash those concerns. They may worry about your safety and health when so far away, but a calm explanation of all your precautions and proof of your sensibility is the best you can do – and remember it all comes from a place of love after all!
Ultimately, they will be happy to see you happy. All we want for those we love is for them to thrive and live joyfully, and if that’s what you’re doing that will be a weight off their shoulders! Stay open and honest with the loved ones you leave behind and it’ll ease the transition.
Reasons To Follow Your Heart
What if something happened tomorrow that stopped you pursuing your goals as easily? What if life takes you on another, unexpected path? I know I don’t want to regret the things I didn’t do while I’m still able to do them. Change your plans before the plans change past your control.
The adventures that await you may be some of your best yet. Actively working towards your goals and living them out in reality is pretty much a guaranteed way to make amazing, beautiful new memories.
The journey itself can be a magical one, and the end result is even better. Every day has the potential to be a good one, it’s the decision to make it so which is pivotal in moving forward.
Grow and learn
The journey of travel is such an extraordinary experience. The planning, the anticipation, the sensory changes, the challenges, the highs and lows: they all help us to grow into our personalities and learn more about ourselves and how we overcome or embrace certain situations. As a wise Kiwi regularly tells me, it’s character building. Missed your train? Character building. Lost in a new city? Character building. Skydiving for the first time? Character building.
We are the sum of our parts, and each trip we take, each new path we forge, it’s another story to add to our ever-growing book of adventures and lessons. Even if things don’t go exactly to plan, you’ll be left with a story to tell and a new perspective to share, and sometimes that can be worth more than the perfect stories!
What’s the worst that can happen? Ok, maybe that’s not the right question to ask, there’s a lot that can happen. But really, what is it we’re really afraid of?
We are the one’s most likely holding ourselves back, and once you realise that no decision will be the wrong decision, you’ll be free to embrace your journey. A lot comes down to trusting yourself and understanding why you want to achieve something. If it’s to give your life more value, to educate oneself, or any number of reasons – they are all valid and as long as you have reason and self-awareness to keep you grounded, you won’t go too far wrong.
Doing the things we want to do will make us happy. Or at least, we hope that will be the case! If taking the cruise of a lifetime will make you happy, then follow that dream! Maybe quitting your job to backpack South East Asia is what will bring you most joy, it’s ready and waiting! Maybe that city break to Paris fills your heart with love, so go right ahead!
We are all deserving of happiness, and some of us need a little extra oomph to kickstart that ever-pursued emotion. If getting out of your comfort zone and discovering more of the world means you’re getting closer to that happiness, then it’s a very good thing.
Small changes to make you happy: Have the dessert at dinner. Visit the exhibition. Purchase the tools to learn that skill. Take the leap of faith.
Starting To Make Your Dreams Happen
There are a whole number of ways to get the ball rolling. Some may say to simply dive in head first, however, my approach would be to start small but think big. By that I mean start embracing small changes that encourage optimism, that harness your passions, that bring joy. Slowly work your way towards the end goal, and before you know it you’ll be ready.
If travel is your goal, here is how I worked up to taking the biggest trip of my life (so far!):
- Narrow down desire to travel to focus on dream destination.
- Book appointment with travel expert.
- Order the guidebooks.
- Research the socks off guidebook.
- Put down refundable deposit on flight.
- Tell family and friends.
- Purchase exciting accessories.
- Plan out trip.
- Save save save.
- Quit job.
- Step on the plane.
- Land in Australia.
Everything In Moderation
Obviously, everything has a limit. Without putting a downer on all this positivity, one should always take action within reason and within means. For example, I wouldn’t expect anyone to purchase a Porsche without having the cash to do so. Always stay grounded about whether your goals are financially viable, can be achieved without hurting others, are based within reality, won’t damage yourself or the environment.
These thoughts on making your dreams a reality are merely to encourage change in your life to pursue the things that will make you happy. But the first step is understanding that that is OK. Whatever you may want to do, your ideas, dreams, hopes, and goals are all valid and achievable whether that be in the next month, year, or 10 years!
There is no time limit to happiness. Don’t beat yourself up for not having visited that perfect destination just yet, it will likely still be there when you get the chance. The point is that it’s working towards the goal, rather than simply letting life pass by hoping it will come to you – you’ve gotta work for it! And you know what? I 100% believe that you will get there. Believe in yourself too, friend.
Do you have a dream that you just never get around to planning? What’s your trip of a lifetime you’d like to organise?
Head to my wanderlist to see mine!