WHY (and HOW) to dream in tough times!

Why and how to dream in tough times

WHY (and HOW) to dream in tough times!

A “Deep Dive” going after WHY and HOW to dream (and pursue your goals) in tough times!  I hate to be “Captain Obvious” but it’s tough to think about our dreams and goals when we’re getting hit with words like “Pandemic” and “Quarantine” on a somewhat normal basis. 

At the same time… it’s wildly important to continue to look forward, to believe in something bigger, and to continue to take small but significant steps forward on the things that are important to us.  Now… this isn’t some “rainbows, butterflies and little ponies” session on how to bury your head in the sand.

Nope. In this episode, we dig into the psychology, the science and the specific strategies that will help you to look at this season in a way that will help you to keep your head, to stay safe AND to continue to march towards your dreams and goals!  I think you’re going to dig it. So let’s dive in.




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QUESTION: Why is it harder to dream when things are tough?


ANSWER:  You’re not broken.  You’re normal.

One reason it’s harder to think about our dreams and goals when things are feeling “uncertain” can be explained by a simple triangle divided into 5 parts.  


You may have heard about it in a high school or college psychology class… but this triangle of brilliance has become better known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

There’s a fantastic video on this concept by the people over at “The Book of Life.”  The link is above.

The quick history on the concept was that in 1943, a thirty-five year old Jewish psychologist… who was born in Russia… but was now living in the United States… was in the midst of an epic journey.  In short… he was searching for the meaning of life.


His name was Abraham Maslow.

He had left the close-knit orthodox family of his childhood… and was now navigating life in the U.S.  He had a passion for figuring out how to live a purposeful life in modern-day America. It was something he wanted to understand… but it was also something he could see as a longing for many others too.


With the lense of psychology, he started to identify five different kinds of basic human needs. 

Some were more linked to material… and others might be considered more spiritual.


As he dug through the research… as well as thought-through his own experiences… he started to uncover a sequence.  A ranking.


It’s almost like these different needs built on each other.

Why and how to dream in tough times by Mitch Matthews


First… we start with what most would consider the “non-negotiables” and core basic needs.  These would be things like food… water… shelter… and rest.  


Next we have what would be considered “safety needs.”  These are a sense of bodily security and protection from attack. 


But then we enter into the areas that many would consider more spiritual and/or psychological needs.  So third… we’d have a sense of belonging and a sense of being loved.


Then forth… we move into what some refer to as the “Esteem Needs.”  These needs are met when we feel a level of accomplishment or even prestige. 


But the fifth… and that’s the big enchilada… is what Maslow called: “self-actualization.”  

This one is a bit more nebulous… and according to some… more elusive.  


Because it involves what Maslow described as ‘living according to one’s full potential’ and ‘becoming who we really are.’


Whew… that’s some core Phycology 101 there in 3 minutes or less.


BUT I think it’s relevant when we’re thinking about dreaming BIG when things are potentially tough, scary and/or completely new.  (I’d say this current season qualifies for all three.)


Maslow… and many other brilliant thinkers before and after him… believed that the first needs… those of basic physiological and safety… need to be met before we can move into the needs involving love… accomplishment… and self-actualization.


Now… whether you TOTALLY agree with this concept or not… I’m guessing you can identify with elements.  Such as… it’s tough to feel really lovey dovey… if you’re worried about a bear chasing you. Or it’s tough to feel super peaceful… if you’re cold, hungry and you’re sitting in the rain.


Now… I know some of your are hikers… mountain climbers and adventurers… and you’d totally disagree with that last point because YOU LOVE TO BE IN THE WILD even if you’re cold and hungry.  BUT you get my point.


It’s that… if you… or those you love… feel like they’re at risk… or they’re safety seems at risk… it’s tough to think about the bigger things like goals… dreams… and what you’re put on the planet to do.


And this plays out… whether that fear comes from REAL things… lions and tigers and bears… or from UNCERTAIN things… like navigating new seasons where people use terms like “Pandemic” and “Quarantine” on a somewhat normal basis.


So… even though… as I record this… the jury is still out on whether this current wildness of the coronavirus plays out to be something HUGE or it proves to be a “blip” and something we wind up laughing at some day… I’m not sure.


But it’s easy to understand how some people are feeling really unsettled and therefore… their basic needs aren’t being met.  So… for many… it’s really hard to think about some of the bigger things. But it’s important to at least explore why it might be

good to still think about and pursue our dreams… even in uncertain times.  (And even if we have to modify our plans due to the current situation.) 


There are a few things I do know.


  1. I believe in God… and I believe that God’s got us and is going to see us through.  Now… that might not be your particular brand of whiskey and that’s TOTALLY okay. If it is… awesome.  Join me in praying for the world, for the country you live in… for your loved ones and yourself. If it’s not… no problem.  Keep listening because the rest of the podcast and the strategies I talk about will still help!
  2. I have a few predictions for the next few weeks and months.  I posted about this on Facebook recently and it got a LOT of reactions.


My first prediction is that Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime are going to see their viewership numbers go through the roof amid people being home more… due to work at home policies… kids being home from school and events being canceled.  



My second prediction is that a few people will navigate this “new normal” and maximize the time.


Some will use it to create some of the most innovative and incredible products and services the world has ever seen. Lives will improve and millions will be made. (Oh… and a vast majority of these products and services will have NOTHING to do with a virus… they’ll just be cool… amazing… and needed products and services!)


Some will use it to get in shape… hit some fitness and health goals they’ve been wanting to go after.


Others will use the time to reconnect with their family and close friends… either through actually being together or by phone calls or zoom calls.


The key question is… which group are you going to be in?


If you’re going to be a part of “Group 2,” you’re going to need to be intentional, use your time wisely, stay out of “fight or flight” mode, manage the risks and work hard.


BUT if you choose Group 2… these next few weeks to months might set you up for the best years of your life.


We all get to choose.  The key is to choose wisely.  Who agrees?



  • Choose JOMO over FOMO
  • Recognize the “Seasons”
  • Look for the OPPORTUNITIES
  • Experiment… Experiment… Experiment!
  • Commit to emerge from this BETTER AND STRONGER


Let me know what you think.  Do you agree?


What’s something specific you’re going to be doing to continue to dream bigger, think better, and do more of what you were put on the planet to do… during this wild “season?”  Comment below and shoot me an update on YOU!


SHOW Minute-By-Minute:


  • 0.02 What to expect today!
  • 5:58 When it feels hard to dream
  • 7:50 The Abraham Maslow Pyramid of Needs.
  • 20:00 How Mitch gets through the hard times
  • 21:34 How to stay focused
  • 23:04 What research says exhausts you
  • 31:19 Going device-free
  • 32:54 Knowing the season you’re in
  • 38:40 Will you embrace the opportunity?
  • 41:31 One of Mitch’s favorite quotes
  • 43:40 Take it day by day
  • 44:50 What you can do with 15 mins
    49:03 Continue to chase your dreams


Listen to Mitch Mattews Top Podcast here

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