Aspirations are funny things. I’ve mused before about whether their real power lies not so much in the thrill of achieving them but in the joy of having something to aim for: an exciting goal glittering on the horizon, something to focus on and to dream about. Like a guiding star shining above the more mundane aspects of daily existence.
Aspirations can certainly be seductive, whatever form they take (career, home, family, travel – the list is endless) and thinking about them can be a stronger motivator than any other. Without them, I suspect life would lack the flavour and momentum that their sense of possibility brings to it. You might not achieve all your aspirations, you might not achieve many of them at all, but as long as you have them, there’s something out there for you isn’t there? Something to reach for?
What about if you do achieve your dreams though? What next? Do you set yourself further goals, ones that are harder to achieve and further away? Or can you simply bathe happily in the joy of aspirations reached for the rest of your life?
Perhaps it depends what they are. I always wanted a loving husband and three kids; a fairly normal sort of aspiration perhaps, but there it was. I’m fortunate enough to have that, and it’s wonderful. It’s also exhausting. It’s fun and fulfilling but it’s challenging. And as much as I know I’m lucky, my daily life is full of an awful lot of washing and cleaning, not nearly as much sleep as I’d like, and more shouting than I consider ideal. So, while I achieved my dream, living it is not a life of perfect bliss and I often aspire to doing a better job in a hundred little ways. But then I wouldn’t expect it to be otherwise. Three kids were never going to be easy, real marriages aren’t like fairytales and running a household was bound to be hard work in some form or other.
Is it different with other aspirations? How about specific, ‘once in a lifetime’ types like seeing Niagara Falls, flying in a hot air balloon or swimming with dolphins? The experience would surely be as exciting as the dream in those cases wouldn’t it? Yes, absolutely – I’ve experienced one of those (the first) and it was fantastic, a real thrill – but they’re also short-lived. The memories are wonderful but they are just memories (and mine, being over twenty years old, have faded considerably!). That said, building up an archive of achieved aspirations like that certainly adds to the joy of existence and I guess, with enough time and money you could even spend your whole life surfing the wave of these types of dreams…
Are there any more long-lasting aspirations that are as wonderful to experience as they look from afar though? Specific career goals perhaps? It’s possible, but in my experience, every goal realised in this area too, brings its own challenges. But then, no aspiration has ever burned quite so brightly as my desire to be a published author. When I imagine how it would feel to see my name on the cover of a printed book… to open it and run my fingers through its pages… to sit and read it to my kids… ahhh. I’m smiling just thinking about it.
Would achieving that not bring me joy unbridled? Of course it would!
… For five minutes, or perhaps five hours but beyond that, well, publication would bring a whole other range of pressures and expectations. I’d have to market my books for a start, and I’d also have to write more. And maybe it wouldn’t be to my own schedule anymore. There would be deadlines and pressure from editors and publishers. And that’s if things were going well.
But you know what? None of this is bad news. Living the reality of an achieved dream, rather than musing on the fantasy, doesn’t make that dream any less worthwhile. Sure, my home life isn’t perfect but it still makes me very happy; my family is the most important thing in the world to me. And my memories of Niagra Falls may have faded but some sense of them will always linger… and that sense makes me want to fulfil those other ‘once in a lifetime’ dreams too. And then, even as aware as I am of the hard work involved in publishing a book, imagining turning the pages of that book still makes my stomach fizz with excitement.
And that’s the joy of aspirations really isn’t it? Unlimited by practicalities, they exist in perfect form. They are the wonder of motherhood without the exhaustion of sleepless nights, the excitement of choosing a dream home without the burden of paying for it and the fulfilment of publishing a book without the pressure of sustaining a writing career. They are the pop and whizz of ‘what if?’ and ‘let’s try that!’.
So, for me at least, I think the excitement of aspirations is in the journey just as much as the goal. And I love that about them. After all, individual aspirations can only be achieved once (if at all), but thinking, planning and dreaming about achieving them makes their sparkle limitless.
Every day I imagine how it it would feel to get that publishing deal. Maybe it will never happen, but my life is one hell of a lot richer for having dreamed, hoped and strived for it.
What do aspirations mean to you?
Thanks to Reneé from Mummy Tries for the inspiration for this post! Reneé is running the Brit Mums Carnival this week and the theme is ‘achieving dreams’. Why not pop over to see what other people have come up with?