How my daydreaming helped me be productive in 2023

I used to make completely unrealistic New Year’s resolutions, and then feel bad about myself when I’d broken all of them before the middle of January. But 2023 was different. In 2023, I proved to myself that I can set a big ambitious goal and achieve it. I overcame what has always been, for me, the most difficult part of being a daydreamer – the lack of motivation.

The joy and fulfilment you get from achieving a goal goes far beyond the end result. There’s magic in showing up day after day and working towards something meaningful. You can’t get that in a daydream. There’s a confidence and pride that you get from proving to yourself that you can do something, even if it seemed scary or difficult in the beginning. In fact those feelings come precisely because it seemed scary and difficult in the beginning.

Last January, I told myself that 2023 would be the year I would finally write a book. I’ve been wanting to write a book every year since I was a teenager. Most years I didn’t even start. I liked the idea of writing a book, but the reality of staying focussed long enough to put together 50,000+ words was another thing entirely. But in 2023, I not only developed a consistent writing habit, which has allowed me to complete the first draft of a book, but I also put together an industry-standard book proposal and signed a contract with a publisher. 2024 will be the year I finally fulfil my lifelong dream of becoming a published author.

So, how did I do it? And how did my daydreaming help me?

I set a goal that meant as much to me as daydreaming

I’ve always loved writing. And I’ve always known, deep down, that I’m a writer. Oddly enough, it doesn’t come out in my daydreams. My daydream self isn’t a writer. But real-world me was always meant to write. It’s my happy place. And it’s been a big part of my therapy. So establishing a daily writing habit wasn’t hard. I was finally giving myself permission to do what I’ve always wanted to do.

Finding the time to write wasn’t hard either. As I wrote more, I daydreamed less. I was swapping a beautiful, compelling, unproductive escape for an equally beautiful and compelling, but more productive, writing habit.

And as I spent more time writing, I naturally connected with other writers. I signed up for a course. I went to workshops. And I made new friends. Life as a writer is nothing like life in my daydreams, but it’s just as much fun. So now I don’t need to daydream as much, because I’ve made real life worth coming back to.

I tapped into the best qualities of my daydream self

Trying anything new takes courage. And determination. And a certain amount of self-belief. Five years ago I had very little of any of those. When I was muddling along, living a life that wasn’t mine, and escaping into fantasy every moment I could, I didn’t think I was worthy of achieving anything in real life.

But then I learned that my daydream self is a lot closer to my authentic self than I’d realised. And with that realisation came the understanding that all the qualities I admire in my daydream self are already in me, just waiting for me to tap into them. Commitment, ambition, self-confidence, were all there. All I had to do was let go of my self-imposed limitations. Once I allowed myself to show up as my awesome capable daydream self, my fears and doubts fell away.

I let my characters help

But what made the biggest difference is that I have two of my characters cheering me on. Every day I go for a walk as part of how I manage my mental health, and I use that time to check in with my characters. I tell them about my real life. We talk about my writing, any obstacles I’m facing, what’s going on in the rest of my life, and how I feel about it. It’s become a way of reviewing my progress every single day.

Reviewing my progress with my characters is much gentler than trying to do it on my own. Whereas I can be very hard on myself if I haven’t made as much progress as I’d hoped, they are understanding and forgiving. They lovingly help me find ways to get back on track. And when I’m afraid to try something because I don’t want to step out of my comfort zone, they’ll be the first ones to tell me that it’s worth the effort, that I’m more capable than I think, and that everything will be OK in the end.

2023 is the first year I can look back on with nothing but pride and gratitude for everything I’ve accomplished. No regrets. No missed opportunities. How awesome is it as a daydreamer to be able to say that? I set meaningful real-life goals, and then I used my abilities as a daydreamer to help me achieve them. If I can do it, so can you. So, are you ready to make 2024 your best year yet?