How I Quit Daydreaming and Started Doing

quit daydreaming

In an alternate universe, I am famous.

In fact, there are a lot of alternate universes floating around that contain different, more dynamic, brilliant versions of me. I’ve been a best-selling novelist, an Oscar-winning screenplay writer and actress, a distinguished and worldly journalist (I’m also bilingual in that one), just to name a few.

There are also smaller alternate universes where I am just a slightly better version of myself. Witty and confident, I always think of the perfect response when someone insults me. I’ve also fought a lot of people and won.

But then there’s the regular universe—you know, the one we live in? In this universe I’ve had some amazing accomplishments, but they pale in comparison. Why?

Because for a long time, fantasizing about my goals was satisfying enough.

Also, in my fantasies, I can’t fail.

I’ve always been a chronic daydreamer. It started when I was a young, introverted only child. I spent most of my time alone, reading or imagining other worlds in which I was a princess, a genie or a sorceress.

As I grew older and became socialized, my fantasies evolved into more reality-based scenarios involving impressing my friends or boys, or winning school awards and talent shows. In the real world, I was painfully shy and quiet, and much too afraid to take the risks involved in actually doing what I was dreaming up.

In high school, I started to find myself through music, drama and cheerleading, and I got my first taste of what it’s like to receive recognition and praise through hard work and practice.

But I never ventured far from my comfort zone, and I still fantasized…a lot.

In college, I knew I was destined to become something great. I had always felt special, like I was meant to make a huge impact on the world, and college was going to be my bridge to success. But here’s the thing—I still wasn’t willing to do any hard work.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t exactly lazy. Well, maybe I was, a little bit. I had the unrealistic expectation of just being discovered by some magical mentor who would guide me to success, and that I would be famous, someday.

But someday kept drifting further and further out on the horizon.

My fantasies were still quite satisfying, except when I would see someone else actually succeed at one of my dreams in real life. I would see an inspiring short film, or read an amazing novel and think, Wow, I could have done that! Sometimes I would seethe with jealousy.

Seeing amazing artwork always reminded me that I had great potential, but soon the daydreaming ensued, and I continued to enjoy unlimited success in my own mind.

When I graduated college, reality finally set in. I didn’t magically get my dream job, and I fell into a cubicle for 2 years, doing customer service and feeling depressed and restless. I became angry at my perceived oppressors— “society” and “the man” were forcing me into wage slavery and stifling my creativity.

It took 6 long years for me to finally learn the few simple truths that would break my cycle of daydreaming and drudgery:

  1. All my life, I’d spent the majority of my waking hours daydreaming instead of living and acting in the moment.
  2. No one was holding me back from using my gift, and no one forced me into a cubicle. My life situation was created solely by me, and my choices.
  3. I’d never put 100 percent of my effort into doing anything I dreamed about.

Once I accepted these truths, something inside me moved. I felt alive and inspired, excited by the thought of what I could achieve if I left my fantasies behind and put all of my potential to use in the real world.

I was done daydreaming. It was time to start doing.

I decided I didn’t need “the man” to hire me, that I could make money on my own, and that freelance writing was the best place to start.

I was still working full-time to pay the bills, but from then on I scheduled time every day to practice writing. I woke up early in the morning even when I didn’t want to. I wrote even when I wasn’t inspired; I just kept clicking away at the keyboard until inspiration showed up.

Don’t get me wrong, working toward my dream isn’t easy. I’ve had to swallow my fear of failure and embrace my vulnerability. I’ve had to dust off and polish the skills I’d left to atrophy for so long.

I am terrified every day. Every word I write, every pitch I send. Only now, I am even more terrified of giving up, so I just keep going.

Every day that I connect with my talent, I create my own, very real universe.

And it’s better than my wildest fantasy.

27 thoughts on “How I Quit Daydreaming and Started Doing”

  1. sri purna widari

    Hi Ivy,

    How similar are we?
    I can feel you, your frustration about yourself not doing anything and just daydreaming.
    I want to write too and I did wrote some.
    It is not popular but authentic and not people pleasing.
    Some reactions are supportive and some are nasty and I focused too much on the latter which is the main reason why I procrastinate.
    I applaud your commitment to keep on doing it and use this publicity to hold yourself accountable.
    Good luck for us!

  2. Wow, I feel like you are talking about me, except that I am still that lazy person. I am not sure I would call myself lazy though, its just that there was always something better to do. I hope to quit now, hopefully this could be my story too :)

  3. I know how you feel. I feel the same way and I keep asking myself why does it seem that I am in the wrong place, why is it never the right time. I just want to get out of this rut, and be an actor; a filltime working actor. And I just feel like I am missing out on so much in life. So much… I have not been in a relationship in a very long time, I don’t date, nor go out, I don’t go shopping, my career is in the dumps and I don’t even own my won home. I am so tired of daydream about the life I want to live and I just want to live the life of my dreams. Why is it not happening for me?

    1. Ahoska,

      It takes time to figure out what you want your life to look like, and what it will take you to get there.

      It sounds like your emotional state is telling you that this is not the place you want to be, so it’s time to make some changes.

      I don’t have a lot of money, and don’t own my home either, but it helps me to think about what I do have to be grateful for.

      One thing that helps me break out of a “funk” or a rut, is to help others in need. When you do good for someone else, it helps you just as much. You feel proud of yourself, which goes a long way when you’ve been feeling useless for so long!

      Good luck!

  4. For me, most of the good things in life originate as daydreams. I suppose if you think of it like this, you have to ask yourself how many good things you miss if you don’t act. I find that daydreams have a whole lot more chance of turning into reality of you write them down. Not all of them necessarily but definitely the ones that your intuition tells you are worth the effort. Thanks for an enlightening article Ivy

    1. Very true! Daydreams are where it all begins, but you have to work if you want to manifest them! It’s a tough lesson to learn sometimes.

      I have definitely written my dreams down as a way of bringing them to life, and as a way of declaring to the universe what I want, in hopes it will bring me opportunity in return for hard work.

      Thanks for reading!

  5. I find as much wisdom and good advice in your response to the commentators, as in the body of your article, itself. I can relate to this in so many ways. “Action is the last resource of those who know not how to dream.” ~Oscar Wilde.

    1. Thank you! I wrote this because I had a strong feeling i’m not the only chronic daydreamer out there. Trying to live out my dreams has improved my life in so many ways, and made me a happier person.

      Great quote by the way! :)

  6. Hey hun!!!

    I absolutely love this! I understand everything you mentioned—fantasizing, living within the fantasy and becoming content. Your article speaks my language and the fear I currently have on pursuing my dream on starting my interior design business. you just motivated me that much more! Because I too am so frustrated and feel a sense of regret or jealousy when I see others taking off in this field and if only I’d put a little more hard work in it, it will manifest itself! This is my thought process and I’m sticking to it lol!

    Also to note, I love your style of writing. You definitely have a gift! Whatever you do, keep pushing your dream, and write as often as often as your hands allow!

    1. Thank you so much for commenting here on the website! That really means a lot to me that you took the time to read this.

      You are an amazing artist, and the best thing about life is that it’s never too late to start doing your best!

      Self-doubt is what holds most of us back and we really have to keep fighting it and just express our gifts. I read somewhere that you are capable of 20 times what you think you can do. I believe it and know you’ll be amazed at the work you can do when you release yourself from fear!

      Thanks again! <3

  7. This somehow punch me. Yes, i feel so tired since i am still not satisfied and fulfilled on what i have today. It’s been three years since i graduated, but still i have not yet achieve the license that i am always dreaming since i was a kid. Dreams are better when it is put into actions. And it is all about the choices that we made. Make a decision and be disciplined on the choice we make.

    Anyway, thanks for the enlightenment. ;)

  8. I identified with this from start to finish. There’s nothing worse than seeing a future and basking in it’s warmth, but then waking up on Monday to a completley different reality and knowing you’ve done nothing to make the dream real. I think we all wake up at different times, but rather than be sad about how long it took, I know I’m glad it happened at all!

  9. I’ve never admitted to anyone that I do this, and to read someone else’s account and identify so completely as ‘that’s what’s going on in my brain!’ is eerie. I’m glad that you have recognised your problem early on and are taking steps in the real-world to further your dreams. Waiting for someone to open the door for you is expecting someone else to recognise talents you aren’t even showing them. However, being willing to display your talents to others takes courage as well as commitment. I truly wish you every success with you efforts.

    1. Actually, this is really the first time i’m admitting this as well! A very public confession. But I knew there were others out there that do this, and I wanted to reach them.

      I only wish I would have come out of my daydreams earlier, but better late than never!

      Once I opened the door to my gift, it’s just been pouring out of me, and it’s a wonderful thing.

      Thanks for reading! :)

  10. Daydreaming in itself is a form of visualisation which you can use to your benefit to imagine and feel outcomes that you desire. Sounds like you just reached a tipping point where you were ready to turn these thoughts into action. Good work you.

  11. I am a big daydreamer ever since my childhood until know in my adulthood. This article you wrote is very inspiring. I sometimes have been afraid to do something to pursue my dreams but after reading this, it really inspired and motivated me. Keep up!

  12. Ivy I’m having the same problem as you had and it has effected me in the following ways:-
    – No focus
    – Unable to follow my plans
    -loss of intelligence
    – to talent. no motivation to cultivate one
    – have achieved nothing in my life
    Kindly tell me way to get out of this and live “really”
    Thank you !

    1. Hi! First of all, I am still learning as well! I still have to work to stay motivated and productive–you always have to.

      I think the first step is actually deciding that you are going to change, not just wanting to.

      Then you must take action. Change something you are capable of changing today, even if it’s small. Then keep the ball rolling. You will fail, you will get discouraged, but you have to move through it, and above all, keep moving!!!

      Good luck to you!

  13. It is interesting how we fall into the mindset that simply thinking about something will make it happen. We get frustrated when things aren’t falling into place, but we aren’t doing anything to actually make them fall into place. Often times it is the simplest step. As you said, you continued to work full time, but you scheduled time to write every day. You wrote even when you weren’t inspired. You stuck to it, and it paid off. It is hard to stick to things, especially when it feels like you aren’t going anywhere with your efforts. But I’ve never heard of hard work not paying off. Worst case scenario, you learn something from the endeavor. Often times though, as you found out, it pays off. Not without failure along the way, but it pays off. I’ve found that I have to realize I have a choice. I always have a choice. I have the choice to keep trying, I have the choice to stop trying, I have the choice to take responsibility for my own actions. Everything is a choice. Always. I can choose to be defeated, I can choose to keep daydreaming and not actually do anything. I can also choose to take the first step. Then the second. Then the third. And so on. It all boils down to choices, and in the end, we are responsible for our own outcome.

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