When we are young, we have no problem dreaming big. We dream so big and our imaginations are endless. I remember one time I was asked by my elementary school teacher the classic question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. I have never been the best at making decisions so I simply wrote out seven of my dream jobs; one for Monday, one for Tuesday, one for Wednesday, and so on. Genius, I know. The most beautiful thing about it was at that age no one told me that’s not possible or why it would be very difficult to be the President of the United States on a Thursday and be a professional basketball player on Friday. When I brought home my master plan to show my parents, I remember my Mom telling me the United States will be so lucky to have me on Thursdays. Bless her.
As kids we are told anything is possible and we are encouraged to dream big. Then at a certain age they decide it’s time to get realistic and they put our young minds in a box. (When I say “they” know it’s just me generalizing society) It’s now time to create SMART Goals. A SMART Goal is an acronym for:
I don’t haaaate SMART Goals but I also don’t necessarily like them either. They break it down for us and tell us why our dreams are only dreams and now it’s time to discover our realistic goals. We are told to pick more tangible goals because we can’t ALLL become the President of the United States. While that is true, we can’t, who are they to decide who DOES?
Your dreams are YOUR dreams. Don’t let the perception of your dream be defined by what’s realistic or “possible”. Don’t get put into a box and only focus on SMART Goals or the goals that are in reach. I’m not sayin there isn’t a time and place for SMART Goals but I encourage you to create a DUMB Dream first. A DUMB Dream is an acronym for:
A DUMB Dream is something everyone should have. It’s that dream that fills your heart with passion and when you think about it, you smile ear to ear. I don’t care if you are 5 or 95 I think that we should all have a DUMB Dream that inspires us. That's not to say that we can just do nothing and expect this dream to come true. We are still going to have to put together the steps of how we plan on accomplishing this dream but my point is, DON’T pick a goal just because it is realistic or reachable. There’s the old saying that says, if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough and it’s so true! When you think about your dreams maybe you’re left wondering, “how will I everrrr accomplish that??” and thats okay, you don't need to know HOW you just need to know WHY.
My DUMB Dream has always been to play professionally. Before starting my senior season I remember having a meeting with one of my college coaches and we talked about my goals for the season. My career leading up to this point, you could say was less than dazzling. I was a role player at best. I always gave my 110% but I never really had a significant role on the team. I could have simply told her that I wanted to be a starter and take that step of becoming a go-to player but I knew I could do that. So I skipped
that and told her I wanted to play professionally after this season. I tried to downplay it a bit, in fear she was going to think I’m crazy. Like, "hey Laken, how about you just worry about earning minutes on our team before you start dreaming like that", BUT she didn’t say that.
She responded with, “I love it and here’s why; whenever you shoot for the moon even if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars.” It made so much sense to me and I held onto that. By setting such an unimaginable dream it forced me to put my everything into getting better. Extra workouts, cleaner diet and an ALL in mentality. I had no idea if it was possible but I realized that it didn't actually matter if I reached my dream at the end of the season because while I was chasing that dream I would be unlocking my full potential and giving my team my best self and my best season.
If I would have never dreamed that big, maybe I would have not entered that season with such a drive to get better every single day. If I would have been satisfied with the idea of just cracking the starting line up maybe I would have never discovered my full potential. I set a DUMB Dream. Maybe, I was the only one who truly believed it was possible but that’s all I needed. This theory worked for me, I had my best season of my career at Green Bay and I am now entering my THIRD year of playing professionally and it’s funny to think it was all possible because of a DUMB Dream. Maybe it wasn't so dumb after all.
Don't let anyone tell you what you are capable of achieving. How do they know what your full potential is when you don’t even know? Don’t be afraid to set dreams that seem to be out of reach, nothing is out of reach if you want it badly enough. Continue shooting for the moon because even if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars.
- Laken James