The power of dream-scaping

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We all know that goal setting is crucial if we want to progress in our lives and careers. But for me, my big pivotal moment came when I embraced what I now call “dream-scaping”. It’s a unique blend of goal setting, journaling and heartfelt exploration that has the power to connect you with your intrinsic motivation, your why. In this post, I explore how my own dream-scaping practice supercharged me when I was in need of making a big shift in my life. Despite suffering from deep exhaustion my writing empowered me to put one foot in front of the other, leading me from Paris to Rome and eventually Geneva, where I have carved out a much more fulfilling and purposeful life. If you’re keen to change the trajectory of your life but you’re not sure where to start, this one’s for you.

‘Great stories and dreams are visual metaphors. They are symbolic languages. And the creative unconscious self uses these visual metaphors to express its hidden wisdom to consciousness.’
- James Bonnet, Stealing Fire from the Gods

I carry this vivid memory of spending an afternoon journaling on the unlined pages of a yellow hard-back notebook, a gift from a friend. The sun shone through the nearly naked branches of the plane trees outside my window. Its rays bounced off the shiny parquet floor of my Parisian apartment, distracting me, so I tucked myself onto my slate mid-century-inspired sofa on the other side of the room. 

For years, I had refused the ‘calling’ (think of this as my heroine's journey).

That day, I sternly faced the task ahead, finally willing to make change happen in my life. I’d found my resolve and grabbed a pen.

It was a bold choice: I was choosing to take my head out of the sand. That afternoon marked the beginning of a new adventure. I started the inner journey that would open me up to my deepest aspirations. 

I blame the creeping clock of middle age for caving in. I spent my twenties and thirties ‘doing’ without much thought behind the ‘doing’. Is it any wonder  I found myself in a state of increasing frustration and low energy levels? The time had clearly come for me to explore what I wanted out of life and, just as much, explore what I could contribute to said life. 

I picked up that notebook recently. Don’t be disappointed when I tell you that a cursory glance into its content reveals that my memory is failing me. While there were faded lines of scribbled notes related to goal setting, they don’t look nearly like the profound exploration that my mind remembers. 

That may be because I have gone through this form of goal-setting journaling multiple times. What matters is that I spent two hours journaling about my dreams. I’d never done that before. Have you? Sat down and asked yourself: what do I want out of this life? This career? 

Perhaps this composite memory signifies the many ways I’ve chosen to explore possibilities, question my heart, and consider my future since that day. 

Either way, my recollection of this writing exercise is that while fear lingered in the background, I persisted on this arduous path. I wrote and wrote and wrote, my hand shook from gripping the pen between my cramped fingers for so long. I didn’t relent or let go. I knew it was time, and I went for it. 

The energy channelled on the page launched a new beginning, propelling me away from Paris to Rome to Geneva, from a corporate job to freelance consulting, from spending my weekends unable to get out of bed to studying meditation, yoga, coaching, teaching, podcasting, writing, etc. Oh how good it was to have energy again…!

That day wasn’t fun, neither was the exercise. Facing our fears never is. But the result offered a limpid vision. I could make a change. 

This adventure into a bright, if unknown, future started with what I now call a ‘dream-scaping’  practice. 

What showed up on the page in front of me wasn’t a list of measurable actions I could enter neatly into a calendar. What emerged was a messy scribble of a wish list, a projected remix composed of memories and desires, along with a couple of gasp-inducing surprises (it’s in these pages that I found I wanted to teach yoga and meditation).

I’ve thought about this life-changing journaling session many times. Hell, I even wrote a blog post about it in my early blogging days. 

These wishes became an orientation in my complicated life. They indicated what and where my heart was pointing toward.  

Ever since that day, I’ve attempted to better align and advance in that direction. 

That said… the next steps weren’t a walk in the park. Fast forward a few weeks

The evening following the announcement of my departure from my former company, a peer (a gentle, sporty type with whom I got on brilliantly) worriedly questioned my decision: “Wait, are you sure? You really want to leave? Aren’t you making a huge mistake?” He offered his concern right after revealing to me that he’d fainted at the cinema with his family a few days prior. The hypocrisy of the situation wasn't lost on me. He, too, was near burnout. 

Looking back at him, I saw the earnestness in his concern for me. This broke through my heart. I felt like crying and laughing at the same time. However, I mustered as much control over my facial expression as I could and walked away. I don’t remember answering him.  

Are we truly meant to work until we collapse, then nurse ourselves until we have enough energy to stand back up? And then, do it all again? 

That cannot be what life is about, or is it? The doubt was there. After all, it’s always easier to stick to what you know. 

I beelined towards a friendly face, in need of a hug, and grabbed a champagne flute. My evening ended with an ice pack over a swollen ankle. In my attempt to project confidence, I chose to wear unusually high-heeled pink velvet boots — a wrong move for my famously lax ankles. My unstable inner state reverberated all the way down to my feet. 

Down girl. 

That’s what I felt the universe telling me. 

You need to go home and rest. 

Helped by a friend, I threw myself in an Uber and limped my way up the flight of stairs back to my fancy apartment. I felt humiliated, exhausted and ashamed. What a fool. 

Sitting on that same slate-grey sofa, I cried hot tears until there were no more. I took a breath. My instinct suggested I should check at my pitiful state so I pointed my phone’s camera back to me. The image scared me, that’s another vivid memory. My state was worse than even I’d pictured. I blame the mascara stains down my cheeks for looking so deranged. 

The next day, I hobbled around. Thankfully, this wasn’t a serious sprain. Looking at myself squarely in the mirror, I scrubbed my face clean: an attempt to erase or rather wipe the slate clean. 

Despite the pain I was feeling, I was turning a page. 

With a cup of coffee by my side, I cracked the notebook open. Balancing it on my knees, I jotted down the events of the night before. Phew. 

Change is HARD. 

But I had this incredible fortune to have connected with my intrinsic motivation, my why. This knowledge supercharged me. Despite my bottoming energy levels, I found enough strength to put one foot in front of the other. I made my way to a new life. 

Since then, journaling has become a daily practice, and I find more clarity and empowerment every time. 

You’ve guessed it by now: I’m obsessed with journaling and goal setting (or dream-scaping; both have their place in our lives). 

Laying down thoughts and emotions, venting frustrations, or even casually reporting back on mundane daily events offers us a dual sense of release and empowerment.

Release as we pour out what needs to be let out of our minds and hearts. Empowerment because there’s an alchemy to writing. Somehow, it opens up a portal to a new perspective. 

Try it out. Let me know what you think. 

PS. If you fancy exploring dreamscapes and goal setting for yourself, I’ll be offering online workshops on the topic in June.

Episode Cover
The power of dream-scaping
A personal account of how writing, or journaling, can open up a new portal and help us find purpose and fulfilment.