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Dream your goals and plan your dreams: the Walt Disney groove


You already know that I don’t set my goals by tinkering with the present but trace back my dreams; this way my goals are a compass helping me to follow the direction of my life.

There are two main difficulties with this:

  • one is that we have generally forgotten how to dream and
  • the second one is that even when we start dreaming we have got into the habit of killing our dreams.

Several years back, I was talking to a friend who works for a very large international organisation. International organisations usually pay very well – so people can buy their ‘dreams’. I still remember what my friend said when I asked how is his new job after academe. He said: ‘It is hard. People here are so boring that they can’t even dream. It is like you can have any car you want and you end up with a Ford Focus!’

Now, I am not one for a Ford Focus; never have been and hope that will never be. After all, I am the woman who drove a bright yellow two-seater car that said Smart on it. So, I should be able to dream, right?

Wrong! When I tried to dream my future life I was inevitably interrupted by the voices in my head. The conversations went something like this:

Me: ‘I am tired of writing academic stuff no one is interested in; I want to write things that people read. I want to write non-academic books, I want to write a blog!’
Voice: ‘You? You could never do that. You have no time, you have no idea what you want to write about and what gives you the idea that you can write anyway. Stick to what you know; you are not doing too badly!

I thought that dreaming is easy; in fact once we are out of childhood dreaming is one of the hardest things to do. Think back to your childhood and I bet that you will remember your Mum saying:

‘Stop dreaming and get dressed (or washed)!’

It is not only that your parents told you to stop dreaming; your teachers told you to stop dreaming and get back to your work as well. In brief, dreaming gets knocked out of us before we get the first spots of puberty!

How about these voices killing your dreams then?

Here, the answer comes from the approach Walt Disney developed; he used it to boost his creativity and structure his studio(s). Walt Disney started his career as a journalist – and was told that he will never be creative enough for that and sacked. This only made him more determined to discover the ‘holy grail’ of creativity. Through observation and self-analysis he figured out that there are three sides to all of us: a dreamer, a realist and a critic. Normally, these are in an ad hoc conversation dominated by the Critic. For example:

Dreamer: ‘I so much want to ride a motorbike across the US.’
Critic: ‘You know that this is rubbish and completely impossible. You can’t ride a motorbike, you fall off your bike every two seconds and you need space to carry enough clean underwear. Such trip will need loads of time and planning – reading ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ is one thing, doing it is completely different, you know. Where is the money going to come from – you are broke, in case you haven’t noticed. Is it safe?’

Conversation over; dream over. One more thing to mention at parties as an entry in my ‘Anthology of Selected Intentions’.

Clever Walt noticed this one and thought: ‘What would happen if the three sides talk in strict sequence: the dreamer goes first, after that the realist and only after that the critic is allow in?’ What happens is immensely powerful. Take a look at this:

Dreamer: ‘I so much want to go across the US on a motorbike. It would be lovely – a country lane, no traffic, desert on both sides, the sun shining. I can smell the dust and feel my son behind me, his arms around my waist. I can hear the gentle humming of a car behind me – John driving with us and with all we need on the road.’
Realist: ‘To do this you will need a motorbike, you will need to be able to take time off work and you will need to plan the journey well. You will need also to learn to ride a motorbike and a driving licence. It will have to be a reliable, heavy motorbike – check how much it will cost. How much would be the flights? Is it better to buy and transport the motorbike or to hire it in the States? Who so you know in the States who can help?’
Critic: ‘What can go wrong with this trip? Where are the holes in the plan? Protective gear is a must. Are you sure about your son being on the motorbike with you? If yes he needs protective gear as well. Need health insurance that is for the US.  Need to figure out what you all would like to experience, etc.’

See the difference? It is worth having a go but remember:

  • Your dream has to be very detailed; dream the colours, the smells, what does it feel like, who is with you. Detail is very important to develop the animal focus and desire that will carry you through the hard patches.
  • Don’t let in the Realist and the Critic before you have finished dreaming. After that let them loose and transform this dream into a workable plan.

I am also one of the few mothers around who tells her son: ‘Stop getting dressed and get dreaming!’ Oh, and the example is not fiction, it is a plan – riding a motorbike across the US is what I’ll do for my son’s 13th birthday; I have promised him that.

photo credit: Another Magical Disney Fireworks Show via photopin (license)

15 thoughts on “Dream your goals and plan your dreams: the Walt Disney groove”

    • This reminds me of a quote. “”Never pay any attention to what critics say. Remember, a statue has never been set up in honor of a critic!” In your example I’m a dreamer and a realest. The realest in me keeps me grounded and crossing my T’s and dotting my I’s

  1. Nice post Maria! It is very important to make those dreams into workable plans. Doing the legwork (writing out the details) and thinking through the obstacles can be powerful steps in order to bring that dream into reality.

  2. I think having 2 kids has helped me dream more. Plus my wife allows me to be the artistic one which gives me more room to think and place my goals into actions. The other day, after I wrote my post on my 10 best moments in 2011, she said to me it’s so nice that you can remember the feeling of going after your goals. It was a nice thing and sad thing to read.

    • Hi Jai and welcome to TheMoneyPrinciple. We loved your post – Maria phoned me up (upstairs!) and could hardly contain herself giggling.

      So I swanned round your site – great pix, full of energy, very in-yer-face and NYC (I’m more of a Cartier-Bresson or Walker Evans man myself). Then I found your Bank of America post. Great comment – absolutely spot on. We have had a run-in with them as MBNA. Like the Royal Bank of Scotland, they are a disgrace to their name (although in RBS’s case they are now largely publicly owned and eating humble pie all the time).

      You may be even more irate to see this post on MP Sorry to raise your blood pressure but you’re a young guy so can take it 😛 .

      PS Can you add social links so people can like the video on Facebook etc ….

    • @Jai Catalano: Does you wife remember the feeling of chasing her goals as well? This is important. I used to say that I have a man who can only dream and I can’t afford to dream. Now he has been learning how to let the other two in and I have been taming them and learning to dream. We are so much more together!

    • @Lisa: Agree that dreams provide joy in life; but they are also such a powerful tool for positive change and re-inventing ourselves. We never dream that we are over-weight, over-consumers waiting to be allowed to retire and worried sick about our jobs, homes and the future. We dream of hapiness, joy, success, contribution and control over our destiny.

    • @MUM: Glad you like it. Keep dreaming – chunk it down and alternate between the three voices; in sequence. Jacob (ERE), would have said that this has nothing to do with dreaming mind, but saving 2/3 of your income.

  3. If we wouldn’t have dreams, we wouldn’t have hopes, and we wouldn’t have plans (ultimately). And of course, we wouldn’t achieve anything! So, I’d say – keep on dreaming, Maria! We all do. 🙂

  4. wow this is so true. There have been so many things that I’d like to do but just have have the courage to do it. And it’s because I’m afraid to dream. It makes me happy to see someone covering this topic. It really hits home. 🙂


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