Daydreaming is a natural thing to do. And let's face it, it can be pretty fun. There's nothing like escaping into a world you completely control. In small doses, there's nothing wrong with daydreaming (in fact, visualization is a very useful tool!). But problems start to occur when your daydreams are maladaptive. Maladaptive daydreams are when you use your imagination to retreat from reality and spend time in a fantasy world of your creation that eats into your time in reality. This can really have a negative effect on your life as you will find yourself avoiding difficult situations. Instead of dealing with the issues in front of you, you will step into your imaginary world. This can become a coping mechanism for stressful situations and other problems you have in your life.
This sort of daydreaming is also a form of procrastination. It takes away from your time in the real world and stops you progressing. Instead, you will daydream about an idealized situation and live in a hypothetical reality while your real dreams gather dust. This means you will have less time to achieve what you want and create your ideal life. And the trouble is you think you have time, but our time is precious and we shouldn't waste it.
Now before we start, I'd just like to say that this is something we're all guilty of to a certain degree. But the good news is there are ways to turn your daydreaming into something more like a productive, motivational tool. And in this blog, we're going to teach you how to turn dreaming into doing—so that your reality becomes better than your dreams.
Think about why you're daydreaming
First, it’s important to understand why you’re spending so much time daydreaming about hypothetical situations. Because only when you understand why something is happening you can begin to do something about it. Analyze your daydreams and be honest with yourself about what you're fantasizing about.
Your daydreams are likely a way of escaping something in your life. So look for themes and motifs that keep popping up - maybe it's something you daydream about often or somewhere you go to regularly. Try to focus on some of the key aspects of the daydream, as they will help you identify the root cause of these fantasies. Are your daydreams a way of escaping pain, negative feelings, anxiety, or insecurity? Try to find out what it is in your life that is causing you to check out of reality. And then, and only then, can you work on fixing whatever problem is causing you to step out of the real world.
Understand your daydreaming patterns
You'll probably notice as a daydreamer that there will be a distinct and familiar pattern to your daydreams. Look for particular triggers in your life that cause you to step back into your own head. Is it, for example, that you only start daydreaming in certain scenarios? Does it happen when you're bored? You might start to daydream when you are upset or in a particular setting. By identifying when this happens, you can create a plan of action to combat the escapism the next time you find yourself about to daydream. By doing this, you can avoid the same pattern to stop the daydreaming response to whatever is happening around you. You might not feel overly emotional when the daydream comes on, but not all emotions are glaringly obvious. Many emotions work in a very subtle way too. Try making a list of alternative ways to cope with your feelings.
Try to keep your mind occupied
If you find that you daydream a lot when you are bored, the best thing to do is to avoid feeling bored. I know that sounds like a silly, impossible thing to say. But the boredom will have to go if you want to change your daydreaming into productivity. To avoid feeling bored and to, therefore, avoid daydreaming, try occupying your mind and your body. Make a to-do list. On this list, you can include all the things you've been putting off doing. It might not sound like a lot of fun, but this is the first step to conquering your boredom.
After completing a task on your to-do list, you will likely feel a sense of accomplishment that will satiate that boredom that's been pulling your mind into dreamland so regularly. You might even defeat an unknown anxiety about something, causing you to daydream in the first place. When you start your to-do list, if some of the tasks are too big, break the tasks into smaller pieces. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Otherwise, you'll end up not doing any of the tasks on your to-do list and end up right back at the very start, bored and daydreaming.
The ultimate way to calm your mind. Meditation is far from easy, but it's well worth doing if you find your mind floating off regularly. By learning to meditate, you will discover how to keep your mind free of it. It will give you great control over the impulsivity of the thoughts in your mind. Start with a short amount of meditation each day and slowly build your way up to meditating a suitable amount of time a day. If you're a complete beginner to meditation, try to find some guided meditations on the internet and find a time that works best for you to meditate. By finding a suitable time, you're more likely to stick it instead of meditating a few times and just giving it up.
Try some grounding exercises
These are great for grounding yourself in the present and reality. By being present, and in the moment, you're less likely to have your head in the clouds. A great thing to try is doing a small workout with a few different exercises. This way, you can avoid daydreaming and procrastination while keeping fit and healthy. Should you find yourself drifting off into a daydream, try naming some of the objects in the room in your head. This is a simple way to avoid daydreaming while waiting for someone, for example, or before a medical appointment. Alternatively, why not try some breathwork? Focus on your breathing, long inhales, and long exhales of around 6 to 8 seconds each. Try a couple of these methods as many times a day as you require to keep your daydreams (and therefore your procrastination!) at bay.
Turn your daydreaming into visualization
Daydreaming is a sign that you have a working imagination. Imagination can be used for both good and bad. Daydreaming to the point where it is actively getting in the way of your life, and you find that you have little time to do what you need to do isn't so good. On the other hand, visualizing what you want out of your life, visualizing the goals you want to achieve and how you might achieve them, is a good thing. With a little bit of mental gymnastics, you can turn your daydreams into aspirations and positive projections. Visualization is when you look to a viable future with the intention and motivation to achieve it. To replace daydreaming with visualizations, you can allocate specific times where you’re allowed to dream until your heart’s content. And when you’re not in these times, you can get to work actually ‘doing’ what it is you want to do. You should practice setting achievable goals with the intention of making your visualization a reality.
Work towards achieving goals
Now that we've spoken about visualization, let's take a moment to talk about working toward your ideal future. First of all, ask yourself if it's realistic and achievable. When you ask yourself this question, you must answer honestly. Otherwise, it's not a visualization, it's a daydream, and you're not likely to achieve it or work towards it in any way. These goals should be centered on changing your reality in the here and now. Your visualization is a motivational tool to help you achieve what you want.
Keep track of your progress when you're working towards achieving your goals . This way, you can reflect on how far you've come as you progress forwards, which will again motivate you to keep going. And if the goal ahead seems too difficult, find a way to make it manageable. Achieving the goal is better than failing to achieve it, so how you break the goal down to be able to achieve it isn't shameful in any way. You can make overcoming large obstacles look easy by breaking down big challenges into a few smaller, easier ones. Which will be another step towards achieving your ideal reality and a step away from your procrastinating past.
The more we practice good habits, the more they become second nature. And the more of those good habits we incorporate into our lives, the easier it is for us to attain our ideal life. By putting the tips we've laid out in this blog into practice, you'll really be able to stop dreaming, start doing, and turn yourself into a very productive person.
You'll also learn how to deal with problems in your immediate environment, which will greatly benefit you and those around you. It will help you become dependable and motivated rather than someone with their head in the clouds. And with traits like that behind you, you're bound to achieve your dreams in no time.
So keep up the hard work, believe in yourself, and if you ever fall off: don't worry about it or daydream about what could have been. Get back on your feet and keep trying. Learn to celebrate the little steps in life. Your dreams won't achieve themselves, and they only exist for you to achieve them.
Never give up, and all the best 🙌.