A Guide to Dreaming Together

Updated June 1, 2018 . AmFam Team

When it comes to pursuing a dream, the right support can make all the difference! Check out these tips from one couple that chose to dream together, and become inspired to partner up and take your goals to the next level.

It takes a lot to pursue a dream. And it’s not uncommon to feel like you don’t have the time, resources, skills or ability to make it happen. But that’s where having the right support can make all the difference! 

When Mark Bowlus opened the BiG Fab Lab, a maker’s space in Bowling Green, Ohio, he had one main goal — to provide his friends, family and community with a space in which they could realize their big ideas.

“Basically, for the price of a gym membership, anyone who has inspiration or an idea but lacks the space or money for equipment, can come here 24/7 to develop and build out that idea. It’s all about connecting people to stimulate knowledge sharing, relationship building and mutual support,” explains Mark.

But, even with such a meaningful purpose, Mark struggled to keep his dream off the ground and running. So his wife, Judy, stepped in to lend a hand. And that’s when the two realized that pursuing a dream isn’t just about creating something you love, but creating something with someone you love.

“The business wasn’t cash flowing enough to afford help and I was struggling to run my engineering business while juggling the day-to-day of the Lab,” says Mark. “But then Judy came on and was able to tackle the day-to-day responsibilities and has used her summer adventure camp director and teaching skills to take our event and educational programming to a whole new level!”

With Judy’s help, Mark’s dream has launched to bigger and better places! And yours can too if you embrace the concept of dreaming together.

Not sure where to begin? Their tips can help.

Pick your partner(s)

Asking for help is never easy, but it doesn’t feel like such a stretch when you turn to someone who’s already rooting for you. Think about the people in your life who are always there to support you, or maybe just someone that has a similar dream, and ask if they’d like to join you. It doesn’t have to be a major time commitment, sometimes having someone to bounce ideas off of or work with for a few hours a week can be just what you need to propel your goals forward.

Embrace your differences

No two dreamers are alike, and that’s actually a great thing! Take advantage of your differences and combine your strengths to get the most out of your journey — you never know where different perspectives and skillsets may lead you. So be open to the possibility of doing things differently than you might do them on your own.

“It has been fun to see Judy come alive with her own dreams of planning amazing group experiences,” says Mark. “And now I’ve been freed up to provide technical help to others and continue developing the Lab’s services. As a result of working with our strengths, the Lab’s financial health has been dramatically improved.”

Expect struggles

Working with a friend or loved one won’t always be a walk in the park. You’re different people, after all! But, when you run into a problem with your dream partner(s), try not to get frustrated. Instead, embrace the struggle. Challenges can uncover some really awesome rewards. As Mark advises:

“Expect some struggles, embrace those struggles and plan to learn, grow and refine your character through them.”

Set Boundaries

Having someone to dream with and support you along your journey is a great thing. But it’s best not to let it define your relationship. There are many aspects to any friendship or relationship, and it’s important to nurture them all. So, do your best to set some boundaries, like not talking about your ‘business’ when you’re out or sitting down for dinner.  

“Our biggest struggle is learning how to shut off business related topics when we’re at home or on a date,” says Mark. “We’re constantly reminding each other to ‘turn it off!’ Our activities in the Lab are so engaging and dynamic, it’s sometimes hard to stop thinking about it, but it’s important to strike a balance.”

To this same point, something else you may want to do is establish a mutual understanding of when it’s time to call it quits for the sake of your relationship. Because it may not always work out, and that’s okay.

“When Judy originally offered to work with me, I was against it,” claims Mark. “But after consulting with friends and mentors, we agreed to try it for a limited time. Initially, Judy and I set up a timeline of a year, and we gave each other the freedom to hit the ‘abort’ button at this time. We walked into this with our eyes wide open, knowing that there was a good chance it wouldn’t work. Fortunately for us, we found that we have very similar work chemistry, and we never ran into any significant obstacles!”

Have fun!

When it comes down to it, pursuing a dream is meant to bring you joy in life, so never let go of what makes it fun — and find little moments of happiness in watching each other take steps towards success.

“I’m not crazy about tools, but I am crazy about my husband,” says Judy. “And seeing him in his playground is fun, too! To watch what gets him excited and what he gets to do every day, helping people…there’s a lot to admire.”

“It’s a wonderful thing to share!” confirms Mark. “I never in my wildest dreams thought we’d be working together.”

To summarize, having someone to help you along the way can make all the difference. Sure, it can be uncharted territory, but that’s part of the fun! So keep these tips handy and ask someone for help today — your dreams will thank you.

Need even more support? We’re here to help!Join the dream movement today — we’ve got just the resources to motivate and guide you along any dream pursuit!

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