One year ago, this week, we found ourselves wandering the cobbled streets in Cortona, Italy without a plan. We arrived there without knowing where we were headed and we stayed there until we figured it out. We spent countless hours walking the Stations of the Cross up to the church of Santa Margherita to contemplate our life’s path while gazing over the Tuscan countryside.
We returned this week, exactly one year from the day we first hiked up to Santa Margherita. As we trekked by Gino Severini’s incredible mosaics on the way to the church, our past year and the images of the time we spent in this idyllic hill town bombarded our consciousness. None of us spoke. We just let the images wash over us as we put one foot in front of the other.
Sitting on our favorite bench near the church, with Italy sprawling in every direction, I remembered a conversation Ron and I had a year to the day. We decided that we had to stop planning and start dreaming. We decided we had to stop goal setting and start being more present. We decided to try to trust ourselves and our vision and give less time to our fears or worries others may have for us.
As we remembered this conversation we both knew the last year never would have happened if we had made it a project plan or a spreadsheet. It was difficult for us to make such a huge leap of faith because we were both much more comfortable with timelines and benchmarks. We sat in the same spot this week, completely transformed by our journey.
Now we know the importance of being dream-oriented versus goal-oriented. It is not that goals are bad, but they are not useful without the bigger picture. Our last year proved to us that dreams generate energy and incomprehensible results. A goal could never capture what we have experienced this year. The attachment to outcomes that are inherent in goals means timelines and the possibility of missed targets. There is a fear of lower productivity and the disillusionment of failure.
We have also learned that when dreams come true, it is critical to creating more. It doesn’t mean we are unhappy with the present. It means that the act of dreaming is a creative process that summons energy within us that propels us forward. It is the ultimate. It is the sound of personal growth. If we don’t regenerate dreams, there is the absence of that sound and we try to fill it with goals and lists that are meaningless and burdensome without the dream.
When we arrived in Cortona one year ago, we thought we needed an itinerary. By the time we left Cortona, we had a dream. All we had planned were a few nights’ lodging. This week, with the memories of seventeen countries coursing through us, we walked the same path we walked so many times, just one year ago.
Today we are certain of the power of our dreams. We have more faith and courage to move through the world without a plan because of the year we have had together living a lifetime of dreams.
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” ~Henry David Thoreau