As a child, I remember our class being told we could be whatever we wanted to be when we grew up. The classroom was buzzing with talk of doctors, nurses, firemen, astronauts, pop stars and footballers – admirable ambitions for most, although all I wanted at the time was to be a milkman! I’m not sure now if this was a reflection of how much respect I afforded the noble act of delivering milk door to door, or if I was already savvy enough at age 5 to appreciate the reputation milkmen enjoy for the extra services demanded of them by lonely housewives.
Either way, as time went by and the role of the traditional British milkman fell into terminal decline, it seemed even this humble dream would remain out of my grasp. And so with a tear in my eye I put it behind me and continued onward for two decades with no real direction. However, I was not alone in missing out on my childhood ambition, and actually as far as I’m aware, out of a class of 20+ kids all but one of us (a very successful country vet) drastically failed to bring any of these dreams – spectacular or otherwise – to any kind of fruition.
One of the roots of this problem is that most dreams, especially those of children, are just that – a glamourised fantasy of what we expect that lifestyle will bring to us, without much consideration for the hardships of the journey to reach it. How far along the road we get before reality finally steamrolls all over it and we turn away from the path, is an indication of how dedicated we are to achieving it. And how dedicated we are is likely a reflection of how close the dream is to our own personal intent.
A true personal intent is, on an individual basis, the meaning of our lives, and is therefore different for each of us. Despite not always being known for talking much sense (they did after all name a character Tarquin Fintimlinbinwhinbimlim Bus Stop F’tang F’tang Olay Biscuit-Barrel), the great Monty Python suggested two fundamental concepts to the Meaning of Life: “One: People aren’t wearing enough hats; Two: Matter is energy”. I won’t dwell too long on the decaying state of 21st Century hat wearing – as Johnny Depp has recently become the Telegraph’s Hat Wearer of the Year, he’s in a much better position to speak out on their predicament.
Energy however, is a much more interesting concept to get our teeth into, and it can be used to help identify our intent – by recognising the things we do which energise us the most. When we feel like we’re flying, it’s because we’re living our true intent, and by analysing what’s behind the feeling, we can begin to unravel it all and focus on what our intent may be.
But can knowing our intent help us achieve our dreams? Certainly it can. First of all, by making sure that our dreams are genuinely what we want out of life, and not just a romanticised view of what we think we want. I can’t say for definite, but I will hazard a guess that whatever obscure facet of milk delivery made it so appealing to a wide-eyed young boy (I think this advert probably has a lot to answer for), the reality of it would not have resonated sufficiently well with my inner being to get over the ridiculously early
mornings, cold and snow.
But by being clear on my intent now means I can actively pursue a lifestyle which complements it. Each of us already possess everything we need to achieve whatever we choose to, and if we choose to give up on our dream it’s only because we didn’t want it enough. There will always be obstacles in the way of achieving anything of significance in our lives, but ultimately we are only limited by our own minds, and if it’s something we absolutely want to achieve from the very depths of our soul, we will find a way to overcome every single one of them.
In taekwondo we talk about this as unrestrained potential. Rather than focusing on what appears an unreachable goal – to become an 8th Dan Black Belt Taekwondo Master for example, my focus should remain in the present moment, working on improving the techniques, speed and flexibility I need now to allow me to pass the next grading, or place higher in my next championship. In this way, I’m constantly developing, and unlocking more and more potential as I go. The further I progress, the more new paths will open up to me and if I am driven and stick with it long enough, the original dream will become not only achievable, but surpassable.