A friend asked  recently “Do you set aside time to dream? Dreaming is hard for me.”

Dreaming is really a work of art. You start off with a blank canvas and you get to create. It’s not all about goal setting or strategic planning, that comes later; dreaming is the genesis of idea creation.

When you dream you let go of barriers that stop your thought process. You let go of known realities. You let go of what you think you are capable of. You let go of how things “should” be. You simply let go and think…a process that is anything but simple.

Why is dreaming and setting aside time to dream so hard? Because letting go is hard. When you let go you have nothing to hold on to. No set way to do something. And sometimes you get stuck and can’t create – or fear the blank canvas.  Dreams, like art and creativity, only comes when there is space for it.

So to answer my friend’s question how do you create space? Yes you do have to set aside time in your schedule to dream and while that is great it is not enough.  You need to find what inspires you.  Is it driving in your car with the windows down singing at the top of your lungs? Being in a park? Mediating? Having a deep conversation? What inspires you will be different from others because you are unique. That said below are a few of my own lessons learned.

1 – Don’t Turn Dreaming into a Task: I found that when I turned dreaming into a task I came into it with an exception of completion and accomplishment. This added pressure and when that time slot rolled by I had nothing – my creativity would not come out and play.

2 – Do Schedule Free Time: Your mind needs time to be de-cluttered and wind down. So do make time to clear your mind. Schedule time with no appointments just free time to do as you wish. In my free time I’ve cleaned my closet, walked the dog, took a nap, went for a drive, watched a football game…did I say take a nap? It’s in those moments when I made space where my dreams were born. The idea for illustrating my upcoming book came when I was laying around getting over from the flu. The ideas and dreams associated with this blog often came from spontaneous road trips.

3 – Do Change Environments: Another thing that works is to change your environment when your brain is stuck. I did that the other day. I worked for a few hours at a coffee shop, then at home, then at the library. Somehow changing things up cleanses by mind and allows me to think better.

4 – Don’t Give Up: Whatever method you use you have to be intentional about making time to just think and be; start with an hour then maybe two. Let your loved ones know what you’re doing and how they can help. And pray! A lot – my first scheduled “free time” I paced back and forth in the kitchen because I didn’t know how to stop doing – but over time I have learned what the art of relaxing  looks like for me and continue to practice it.

What are you’re do(s) and don’t(s) for creating space for your dreams?