Episode #108

What’s Keeping You from Dreaming Bigger?

How do you create bigger dreams? And why is dreaming big important for academics?


Today, Head Coach Gina Robinson is talking to you about dreaming bigger.


Identifying Your Big Dream

I want to talk about those big dreams of yours, and I want you to get back in touch with them. As we do our day to day lives and get caught up in the logistics of teaching, research,  service, and families, we lose sight of those bigger picture ideas and some of the exciting dreams that we really should be holding on to. 

I know that there’s a lot of systemic and structural obstacles to a lot of people’s dreams. And those are real. People who are socialized as women are rarely given permission to dream big or pursue big goals. And when we do that, it can cause a lot of cognitive dissonance and a lot of tension. 

But that is actually part of the reason that we need to do it, and that is why we need to let other people know that we have big dreams. So my question is, what is your big dream? What is the thing in your life that you’re considering… but it scares you?

“Anything that you’re interested in, but scares you is really something you need to be thinking more about.”

What makes you wonder, “could I really do that?” There are a lot of ways that you can make your dream bigger. The only rule is that it has to come from you.

“I want you to hold on to your big dream, and I want you to feed it because this big dream can carry you through some of the less exciting days.” 



I know the word legacy can be kind of intimidating at times. But again, your big dream can leave something that lives beyond you and beyond your career. And that’s important, especially if you are mid-career. For example, if you’ve gotten tenure, you may be looking around for what else there is beyond this. That’s exactly where your big dream lies. 


Following Your Dream

Ask yourself what is keeping you from following your dream and what is keeping you from going  all in on that dream. Are you waiting for the right time or permission for the right economic situation? Spend a little bit of time reflecting on what’s holding you back from that big dream. 

A couple of pieces of advice:

  • Adopt a trial and error approach. One of the things that you have to know about big dreams is that there is more chance for failure. So if we can think of failure as an opportunity to improve, it’s going to make this big dream feel a little bit more within our reach. Just identify your first step and get going. Then when something goes wrong, pause and evaluate. Your dream may transform over time, and that’s okay. 
  • Separate yourself from the crowd. One way to do that is to go all in with things that matter to you. Even if you don’t know that they’re going to turn out well. 
  • Only worry about what you can control. There’s no good reason to plan around other people’s actions, because we don’t have control over them. And the same goes for future possibilities; making assumptions about the future is a waste of time. Focus on what is available to you now. 
  • Find and use your support system. Connect with people who have done the things that you were dreaming about. Talk to them about how they do it, and connect with people who are also looking to chase their big dreams. 

“Those are people that you can share your fears and aspirations with, and you can cheer each other on, which is very, very exciting.”

Every time we run our Elevate program with a new group of mid-career post tenure women, I’m absolutely blown away by how much they lift each other up and create supportive communities. Our next cohort starts in February 2022.

If you are mid mid-career faculty, our Elevate program is transformational. It is a really meaningful space for anyone who has gotten to tenure and is looking for these big dreams. If you’re in the middle of all of “the stuff,” then the Elevate program might be a good way to pull yourself out and think about your bigger dreams and the kinds of things that you’re going to leave after you retire. 

Remember to hold on to your dream, share it, write it, and say it. Also, if anyone has one of those big dreams that they really want to share with someone else, let us know. Keep writing!!


Connect with me:

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