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Action starts with a dream

Dare, Dream, Do, by Whitney Johnson

At Amazon: Dare, Dream, Do, by Whitney Johnson

The word “dream” sort of rides up a little in back, you know? For such a meaningful, pleasant word, it often smacks of sentimentality and lack of direction. Dreaminess is nice and all, but it doesn’t inspire respect. Dreamers are fun to hang with, but they tend not to get much done.

(This from a proud Pollyanna and admitted philosophizer. Hey, I’m all for positive thinking, but I’m interested how people translate it into real-world action.)

Obviously, the word “dream” has been overtaken in my mind by Disney and the self-help genre, because I’ve just had the interesting coincidence of meeting two people for whom dreams are the beginning of powerful change.

Whitney Johnson, President of Rose Park Advisors, popular Harvard Business Review blogger, and author of Dare, Dream, Do is no slouch in the “get it done” department. Whitney and I have become online friends as a result of an introduction by Christine Koh. Whitney introduced us to Bibliomotion, who in turn has partnered with us to publish Minimalist Parenting.

Charles Duhigg, New York Times business reporter and author of The Power of Habit, also has a knack for action. He and I “met” during his text-chat book party which I co-hosted at The Motherhood. In his book, he shares the neuroscience behind habit change, and outlines a deliciously simple process for harnessing it.

Both Whitney and Charles argue that to accomplish something, you must begin by envisioning it. Creating a vision so compelling and detailed that is feels real. A remote vision, maybe, but real enough to smell.

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

At Amazon: The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

Huh. The last time I had a vision that was real enough to smell, I was dreaming. Literally — it was one of those vivid dreams you sometimes have that seem so real you’re confused when you wake up.

In the “Power of Habit” chat, one of the participants asked about how to generate motivation to change a persistent habit. Paraphrasing Charles’ answer: “You have to visualize your success, really see it, see yourself achieving it.”

Suddenly dreaming, creating vision boards, meditating, and journaling doesn’t sound so in-the-clouds. Perhaps a dream really is a wish your heart makes.

This week, I’ve been dipping in and out of envisioning my dreams. Parenthood is so slanted toward the practical, day-to-day that it’s not easy to get myself to the higher elevation that promotes dreaming. But I’m trying. And I’m starting to make something out. Perhaps it’s time to schedule another solo retreat so I can tune in more closely to my quiet mind (or, as we’re playfully calling it in Minimalist Parenting, my “inner bus driver”).

If you’ve got a little time set aside for yourself this Mother’s Day, consider using some of it to dream. Who knows where you might end up?

Whitney’s book, Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream, is available at bookstores nationwide, as well as Amazon, B&N, Indiebound and others.

Charles’s book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, is also available at your favorite bookseller.

Clearly, other people have understood the importance of dreams as well.


Read more from me at

Follow me, Like me, check out my forthcoming book,
Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less

More on The Accidental Expert:
♦ If you write it, they may come…true
♦ Don’t be afraid of “hard”

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