I was telling a friend about our five-year plan to buy a boat and sail to South America when she asked me, “How do you do it? How do you find time to water the seeds of future dreams?”

The question struck me, first because she painted such a beautiful image. Second because I had never considered the fact that Jordan and I “water our dreams.” But that’s exactly what we do. We regularly toss around ideas of what we want out of today, tomorrow, and our future. We paint possibilities and turn the ones that stand out into our reality.

I told my friend that Jordan and I have time for this because we have mornings together. When other people commute, we sit in the living room drinking coffee, dreaming up adventures.

My friend and I finished lunch and said our goodbyes but her question stuck with me, and it was only later that I realized my response to her was incredibly unhelpful, deflating even.

The truth is that anyone can water the seeds of future dreams no matter how busy they are. You don’t need slow mornings with your partner to plant seeds. That just happens to be when Jordan and I do it.

In an effort to provide my friend—and you—a more helpful response, I’ve outlined the two main things you need to do in order to water the seeds of your future dreams.

Make it Part of Your Conversation

Jordan and I have always talked in one way or another about the things we want most out of life. It’s been a natural part of our relationship since the beginning and I believe it’s an essential part of what helps us continue growing together—whether we work toward a common dream or support each other in the things we hope to achieve individually.

I think a lot of people probably do this naturally, when they have time. But it’s this component—finding the time—my friend was lamenting. Her time is mostly tied up between parenthood and her PhD program. The PhD alone is all-consuming. It’s not a job that you can leave at the office. You think about it all the time. Add a 10-month old to the mix and time is all of a sudden really tight. It takes all of your mental and physical effort just to balance your workload, at school and home, day to day.

In situations like that you have to be more purposeful with your conversations. You have to make time to not only discuss daily tasks and upcoming family getaways, but also check in with each other on your vision for 5, 10 or even 50 years down the road.

The fact that my friend is working toward her PhD is, in itself, an act of watering future dreams. She may not see it now (only because she hasn’t considered the possibilities yet) but her work could take her and her adventurous family any number of places down the line. She just needs to start the conversation, plant the seeds, and see which ones might be worth watering.

But how do you make time for the conversations when it takes everything in your power just to eat, sleep and get to work and day care on time? Maybe you only have the mental capacity to talk about these things once every few months, but the important thing is that the conversations do take place…occasionally. Aside from mornings, Jordan and I like to play these “what if” games on walks and on date nights.

To help get you started, here are some of the questions Jordan likes to ask me.

Questions to Start the Conversation

  • If you could be waking up anywhere in the world today, where would you want to be?
  • Is there an experience you’ve always wanted to have—seeing the northern lights, drift diving through the Barrier Reef…?
  • If money were not an option, what would you want to be doing right now?
  • What skill or hobby have you always wanted to learn—Jujitsu, watercolor, Vietnamese cooking, playing the banjo, flying a glider…?
  • Of the top five things on your life list, is there one that you can do in the next year?

Pick a Seed to Water

The more conversations you have, the deeper you will dig. Patterns or dreams will start to emerge; one or two may rise to the top over and over again. This might be a seed that you can nurture. Have you always wanted to volunteer at an orphanage in Africa? Take that idea one step further and talk about what that might look like.

  • Would you have to quit your job or could you go for just a couple of weeks to try it out?
  • Does a work program appeal to you or do you want to go on your own?
  • Is there any way that you can connect the trip to the work you’re doing now?
  • Is it possible to use this opportunity as a stepping-stone to the next phase of your career?

In the end, the volunteer trip to Africa might not be what you end up doing. The dream might take different shapes and forms the more you talk about what’s possible. The point is to start the conversation, find a seed that stands out, and splash a little water on it.

Listen to the Wandering Workers Podcast