“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” - Walt Disney
You often hear it said, “don’t call it a dream, call it a plan”. This is an important refrain to bear in mind for anyone on the path of goal pursuit; without an actionable plan, your dream is surely never to be realized. But this phrase just doesn’t resonate with me. To me, dreaming is one of the most powerful things our human brains are capable of. I associate dreams with possibility, creativity, and imagination. Dreams are incredibly emotionally evocative, which for an emotive person like me, is one of the biggest factors in determining whether or not I will achieve success.
So, if a dream is associated with so many warm and fuzzy things, isn’t a “terrifying dream" something of an oxymoron?
Well, yes. The fear I feel when I contemplate my dreams is directly related to the strength of desire driving those dreams. The stronger - the more tactile, the more real - the dream, the more fear and uncertainty I feel. That fear is how I know I’m on the right path. As they say, if it doesn’t scare you at least a little bit, then it’s probably not worth doing.
The strength of fear is found in recognizing it. Fear sometimes disguises itself as anger, dread, anxiety, or even disinterest. But if you can be mindful enough to acknowledge it for what it is, you can begin to dive a little deeper. I’ve found that delving into the “what” and “why” behind fear allows me to put it to rest and connect more strongly to the “what” and “why” of the dreams I’m chasing.
I’ve had to unpack a lot of fear and uncertainty heading into this season. Truthfully, this is always something I confront at the start of a “new” anything, whether it be in sport or in life. “What if I fail? What if I let myself down? What if it goes sideways?”… These what-ifs are a familiar refrain to me. And though they’re uncomfortable, answering these questions always reminds me of one thing: when it boils down to it, I’ve got nothing to lose! And so, at the start of every season, I inevitably get to the point where I ask myself, “What if I succeed? What if my dreams are realized? What if I stick to my process, remember to have fun, and remain the eternal optimist? What if I remain excited to see what’s around the corner, no matter how things are going?”. Only after stripping down my fears do these dream-scenario “what-ifs” rise to their full, inspirational power. And in that space, the fire for a new season begins to blaze.
Yes, I’m chasing dreams that scare the crap out of me, both on and off the bike. But this is a good thing! My relationship with fear has evolved over the years to the point where it feels positive to experience this uncomfortable level of uncertainty. I’ve learned to leverage fear and now recognize its relationship to motivation. So while my goals and dreams scare me, I’m grateful for that experience. Without a little positive fear, I would probably never get anything done.
And so, a new season approaches, with all of its scary and exciting possibilities. You know what I think is so cool about bike racing (or, really, sport in general)? Absolutely anything can happen. How will this year go? I have literally, and honestly, not a damn clue. But I’m excited to find out. So here’s to dreaming big, wild, scary dreams - and lining up to chase them with all the courage we can muster.
While my season technically began in Greece a few weeks ago, I approached those races with the goal of training (let’s call it a preseason). This week marks the beginning of the domestic race scene in North America, which in my brain, is like the exhibition season. We’ve still got quite a while until the regular season showdowns of the World Cup, but the action starts now!