Dig Below Your Dreams to Discover Your Vision


Your vision arises from your hopes and dreams. If you’re not clear about what you really want, you are likely to set goals that will not be truly satisfying once accomplished.

Look below the surface to find the roots of your dreams. You might find that what you thought you wanted is not exactly what you truly desire. If you dig down deeper, you might discover your vision is great than what you assumed.

Chris’ Porsche.
Chris said he dreamed of owning a Porsche. Being a “high potential” in the company, he was well on his way to achieving his goal.

In response to questions like “If you had that, then what would you have?” and “Why do you really want that?” Chris responded,

“We didn’t have much money when I was growing up. My dad left when I was really young, and my grandparents helped raise us kids. We didn’t have a lot of things, but there was a lot of love, and they really wanted the best for us kids. My whole life I heard how important getting an education was so I would be able to get a good job. They scrimped to save money to help us with college. If I can afford a Porsche, it will be proof I’m doing well and that everything they did was worth the effort.”

The “light bulb” moment.  A few minutes later Chris said, “It just hit me that I don’t really care that much about cars. My grandfather is a mechanic. He’s the one who cares.”

Upon reflection, Chris realized that a better way to demonstrate to his family that their efforts had paid off was through who he was and how he lived his life, not by what he owned. He also became clear that he did want to make money – but not to buy a car. He wanted to be financially successful so as his grandparents aged, he would be able to help them if they needed it.

What do your dreams signify?

The more clear you are about what your dreams signify, the more easily you will recognize opportunities when they arise. When you are able to clearly describe your dreams, others will think of you when they see opportunities. Even if people want to help you, they can’t if you are vague about what you want.

It’s easier to access our dreams when we are younger. 

When he was little, my son loved trucks. Our home was filled with toys and books of fire trucks, construction trucks, and moving trucks. At the age of five he became enchanted with the local garbage truck. Each week he would ask me to take him down to the curb so he could watch up close. While the truck slowly drove by, a man standing on the back would jump off, grab our trash, dump it into the back of the truck and then hop back on the truck.  We would say hello as they rolled by.

One day my son told the man that he wanted to be a trash collector when he grew up.  The man’s response was, “Stay in school, kid.” Fortunately his dreams were not dashed. At the age of 24, he is in graduate school. But he is also certified as a volunteer fire fighter, spending 50 hours a month at the station where he frequently rides on the fire trucks.

As we grow older our dreams often get squashed, and we must re-discover them.

To create a vision, you must first connect with what you care most deeply about. Suspend your internal judge and critic. Dig below the surface and see what arises. This is the stuff vision is made of.

Don’t limit your yourself by what you think is possible. A vision can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. If you have any doubts about this, consider the story of Terry Fox.

Be proactive, not reactive.  Create a vision for what you truly desire, not what you want to move away from. Focus on where you want to go, not what you want to leave behind.

Here are 3 activities that can help you (re) discover your dreams.


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23 comments to Dig Below Your Dreams to Discover Your Vision

  • If you’re like me Jesse you read a lot. In fact we read about the same subjects day in and day out. I ask myself why that’s the case? It’s because it’s who we are. We’re constantly looking for a different slant on the same subject matter hoping to take a golden nugget away from the printed word.

    For me it was creating a vision for what you desire based on your values vs. where you want to move away from.

    You can easily tell when the vision is the right one. It feels effortless. It feels so simple. You say to yourself “Anyone can do this. This vision seems too simple.”

    • Hi Steve, There is a lot more power in focusing on what you desire rather than want you are resisting. Glad that was a helpful nugget. I appreciate your description of what it feels like when you connect with your vision.

  • Jesse, I have personal experience with the “now what” experience once the goal is reached. When there is no sense of fulfillment, I realize that was not the vision, but at best the means to the end. What I do believe is you have to be running to something rather than running away from something as you point out. Dreaming and Vision is clearly in the air as I posted about this as well yesterday. I think people set goals rather than a vision because they get overwhelmed trying to figure out the “how” while crystallizing the vision at the same time.

    • Hi Thabo,

      You make an interesting point about why some people jump too quickly to set goals without being clear about where they are leading. It is overwhelming to try to figure out the “how” and crystalize the vision at the same time. To some extent it is an iterative process because the closer we get to our vision, the more clear it becomes, and we need to realign (and sometimes change) our goals. But I agree with your point about the importance of separating these as two distinct processes. Thanks for extending the conversation.

      I enjoyed your post Vision, You’ve Got To See It

  • Stavros Baroutas

    Very good article; Rairly you can read thoughts like these. There are very helpful and appear to us something above our reality; Dreams, desire anmd vision. Close your eyes, feel, dream and finally create your personal vision! Inspire!

  • Susan

    Great post, Jessie.

    I’m a big proponent of these ideas, and of @johnsonwhitney, of course. It’s so great that the two of you share so much good, specific writing about what’s possible – because it’s so easy to lose sight of, for the many reasons you two explain.

    As you point out, being vague about what we want throws up quite a barrier. Specific thought and articulation take quite a lot of effort, but they’re the key.

    Well done, as usual, Jessie. Thank you.


  • […] Powerful thoughts about how to access your dreams by best-selling author Jesse Lyn Stoner. […]

  • Great – and timely – post, Jesse! I especially love this line: “Even if people want to help you, they can’t if you are vague about what you want.” So true… a great reminder. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

    • Hi Julie, Thanks to you – for your kind words, and also for highlighting the importance of clearly communicating your dreams and goals to others. Too often people keep their dreams a secret and lose the opportunity for support.

  • I love this post! This part, in particular, resonated with me. “To create a vision, you must first connect with what you care most deeply about.” I think for a lot of young people such as myself, who are perhaps unclear about their true passions and values in life, this may seem like an incredibly daunting task. After all, most of us just want to find a job and make enough money to support ourselves post-college. I wonder what ways we could encourage young, perhaps unemployed or underemployed people to really think about their values and then see what direction their values could take them.

  • Khalid

    Great posts Jesse :)

    I loved the part where you said “As we grow older our dreams often get squashed, and we must re-discover them”

    It’s very true

    I dreamed to be a dentist when I was a kid but my GPA was below what was required when I graduated from high school so I lost my dream since then!

    I’m an IT specialist now and I’m more than satisfied with what I do but I really lost that childhood drive!

    Just like what Margy said that I really don’t have anything specific than working hard to earn money to raise my family!

    I should re-read your post of rediscovering my dream :)

    Thanks alot for your refreshing post Jesse


    • Hi Khalid, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Sometimes our dreams are specific but when we dig below them and find the meaning they held, we discover that although we can’t do that specific thing, we can find a way to move forward with what it really meant for us. This requires taking the time for reflection, because we can’t just figure it out with our rational mind. In my next post, I give suggestions for a few activities to help with the reflection. Also, sometimes people discover that they are actually living their vision and didn’t realize it. When they do realize it, they reconnect with their passion. You might find this post interesting as well: Personal Vision: 6 Guidelines to Create a Vision For the Life You Really Want

  • Phil

    Great posting Jesse. I just wanted to send you a quick work of encouragement as your tweets and posts are very powerful and encouraging. I am glad I found you during my “valley” time as you were one of the people who I let tweets get to my phone to help me through it all. Having come out the other side, I still get them and am glad that I have and I do. Have a great day and week.


  • Trudé Nell

    I love your ‘Getting to the Roots of your Dreams’Principle. The ‘AHA!-Experience’ is an extremely Empowering one!I also believe one has to uncover one’s Core in order to be propelled into one’s Purpose.

  • Jesse, my first dream job as a kid was to be a garbage man and I got up early to watch him come as well! My ideas of what is cool have changed since then, but proud to say I’m still following them :-)

  • Dave Howe

    Jesse, thanks for directing me to this post. I will share this with my Teach for America son. When he was little, he wanted to be a clown. A friend asked, “Why a clown?” “Because I like to make people laugh!” Unfortunately, the term “clown” has negative connotations, and he dropped that dream, but he is a very funny guy and makes his 2nd graders laugh all day (in a good way!). Kinda the same as your son: the dream doesn’t die, it grows and matures. Hurray for him to be a volunteer FF.
    PS Think about how different our world would be without clowns and trash collectors!

    • Love your story about what it really means to be a clown! Too often we adults inadvertently squash the dreams of our children, losing the opportunity for them to discover what they really signify. Your son is lucky to have a dad who supports his journey. Even when your vision is clear, the entire path rarely is.
      ps. My 25 year old son is living in Portland now and loves it so much he doesn’t want to leave – not for a job, not for more education, not even to be closer to his mother. :-)

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