My success in life is based on my love and respect for daydreaming. I've always been a daydreamer. At the age of seven, I envisioned a space opera of powerful Lizians, Heart Monkeys and Star People who fought against the tyrannical Lizard Men. I loved this world and I visited every chance I got. I spent so much time fleshing out my world rather than school work that by the end of high school I had a written a truly intricate science fiction novel and I had the poor grades to show it. It was also an amazingly horrible novel. When I showed it to a girl I liked in high school, because high school chicks dig sci-fi authors, I couldn't have anticipated the reaction, “I can't believe you waste your time dreaming about stupid stuff like this.”
To this day, I still waste most of my time “dreaming about stupid stuff.” Most of those dreams now involve my work rather than fantastical worlds, but the love is still there. I set aside several hours every week to dream about what could be. I sprawl out in these dreams, I linger, and I set no goals for myself in what I hope to accomplish. I ask myself, what would make this amazing? Why would that be amazing? What is the essence of amazingness? I go down every corridor, until I get to the essence of the problem and the solution. This isn't work that can measured; this is my time to enjoy myself and untangle life's truly difficult puzzles. It is during these times that I get excited about the potential of what could be.
Without this time to dream, my work would have no direction. I would be subject to the whims of whomever is yelling the most at a particular moment or whatever crisis of the week has sprung up. Dreaming builds a vision and a vision creates purpose. When something urgent comes up, I can keep it in the context of whether it is truly more important than the great things I've envisioned.
Where many other dreamers go wrong is their dreams stay dreams. I love my dreams, but I also respect them. That respect means that while I set aside time each week to dream, I spend the rest of my week making them happen. I temper my excitement for the amazingness of what could be by telling myself that greatness takes time. So I take the smallest step possible towards the dream that I can put into action. I then dream again the next week, but this time a smarter me is dreaming, informed by the realities of taking that small step forward. That smarter me comes up with an even better dream. Dream and reality march forward together as the work evolves, always daring to dream of perfection while letting reality take its time to get there. This constant cycle of vision and execution is what leads inevitably to success.