Have you ever awoken from an incredibly complex dream only to have the most badass day imaginable? Have you ever had a dream so awesome that it made you jump out of bed, strap on your big girl pants, and shout, "CARPE DIEM MF’ER," only to later have your boss praise your “go-getting” attitude and drop a hint about a future corner office? Well, chances are you had one of the following images pop up in your dreams — which means you can begin planning on the sweet little vacation home you have your heart set on in Maui.
The theories of Sigmund Freud have been out of fashion for some time now, but he did bring dream interpretation as wish fulfillment to the forefront. (I’m more of a Jungian myself.) Sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar. It could be a herald of something great to come! Reading into dreams and looking for omens of the future has been in practice since Ancient Mesopotamia with the Epic of Gilgamesh, and probably even before the written word. Luckily, today we don’t have to spend so much time peering through bird entrails to get a glimpse of the future. So grab the dream journal off your nightstand and start flipping through, because you definitely won’t want to miss any portents of your great success to come!
While traveling on the path to career success, sometimes we have no idea how to get from point A to point B. Dreaming about different modes of transport — be it a car, bus, plane, or even a sweet pair of roller skates — can echo the direction we feel our life is taking, and how much control we feel we have in reaching that destination. Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, professional dream analyst and pin-up artist, tells Bustle that “vehicles in dreams show us how we are progressing and moving forward on a particular path in life or in life in general. Pay attention to the type of vehicle, who is driving the vehicle and how well or poorly the vehicle is behaving because it will mirror your current progress in some areas.”
Life transitions are frequently reflected in our dreams, and obstacles we fear also pop up. But that doesn’t mean you can’t climb your way to the top!
2. Other People
Dreaming of specific people from our waking life is said to be a reflection of the different sides of ourselves. These people we dream about may show us aspects of ourselves that we feel we need to work on. Perhaps one of your quiet friends is a guest star in your dream. Loeweberg specifies that a boss or a celebrity you admire can be the most important people you see in your dreams, in relation to success.
“[Seeing your boss] could indicate you are handling things ‘like a boss’ and have the authoritative energy to get things done ... that is if your boss is a helpful character in the dream. Even having sex with the boss is a sign of this!” she says. “A celebrity you admire, will represent those qualities you wish to be recognized within yourself. Dreaming of hanging out with or being in a relationship with a favorite celebrity often means you are in tune with and recognize your own "star" qualities and that you've got what it takes to get others to recognize your talents.”
Pay attention, because that could be the voice of your subconscious telling you the only thing keeping you from that promotion is not asking for it.
Next time you dream that you’re swimming through a tranquil lake, rejoice! You can cancel your yoga membership, because you, my friend, are the Queen of Inner Peace. Water in dreams is said to reflect the state of our emotions and our unconscious mind. The nature of the water is supposed to give us insight into how we are dealing with our own headspace.
Water can also be an indication of your creativity. Loewenberg explains that “water full of beautiful fish and sea creatures is a good sign that your creative ideas are flourishing, so take it as a call from your subconscious to get to work on whatever project you have been thinking about.” On the other hand, if you’re sailing on choppy dream waters, you might be facing a challenge and feeling uneasy in a new situation. “Frequent dreams of drowning or tidal waves or flooding is a tell tale sign that you are easily overwhelmed and that is not an ingredient for success because in order to succeed you have to be able to handle pressure and you have to be able to allow criticism and rejection to roll off your back,” Loewenberg says.
But once you recognize this and find a way reel these feelings in, you can turn that raging river into a placid puddle.
OK, bear with me here: Death in a dream is rarely symbolic of something bad. Just like in Tarot cards, death typically implies a transition, an end of one thing and hence the start of another. Endings can be painful, whether it’s a relationship or a particular job, but they also imply an increased self-awareness and learning.
“When you dream of someone dying, even if you dream of your own death, ask yourself what has changed, what needs to be released," Loewenberg tells Bustle. "Often, those are changes or endings we may resist. But in the big picture, they are things that need to be removed from our lives, and death dreams actually help us to recognize the change or ending so we can let go of what is behind us, freeing us to move forward."
If you stay stagnant, opportunities will never open up for you. So get moving!
Babies can be adorable to dream about, but just because one of those little guys crawls into your dream doesn’t necessarily mean your biological clock is starting to tick.
Babies in dreams have multiple interpretations. They can be a reflection of a need to feel loved, a feeling of vulnerability, or they can also imply a fresh start. Perhaps you just got a new project at work, or a headhunter is offering you a new opportunity. “Baby dreams are an excellent sign of potential success," Loewenberg says. "Babies are a new life and in a dream will often represent something that will create ‘a new life’ for the dreamer. Baby dreams are common when you have just gotten a degree, started a new job or even a new relationship."
In addition, Loewenberg points out, “we also tend to call pet projects, our ‘baby.’ The subconscious will show us our new careers, relationships, projects, ideas, etc. in the form of a baby so that we will treat it as such, so that we will nurture it, love it, give it tons of attention and focus so that it — and we — can continue to grow and reach full potential.”
This potential for growth should not be ignored and your dreams are telling you so.
Soaring through the air like a majestic hawk can mean you are ready to seize control and start building your empire. The act of flying and the ease with which we do it in our dreams is symbolic of how much control we feel we have in our lives. If you're zipping around like Supergirl, you are probably feeling pretty confident in achieving your goals.
“When you dream of flying it means you are feeling great about what is going on in your life,” Loewenberg says. “You are realizing your ability to rise above where you are now and are feeling confident about reaching the high goals you have set for yourself.”
Getting down and dirty in a dream with a coworker doesn't necessarily mean you have feelings for that person IRL. Sex in dreams can symbolize intimacy, but it can also be symbolic of a moment of clarity and self-actualization. It can also be a good indicator of a change you should make in your life.
“Sex dreams can be very helpful to you on your road to success because they actually tend to show us what we lack. The advice these dreams give us can be found in whomever your sex partner is in the dream,” Loewenberg says. “No matter whether it is a coworker, a friend or someone from your past, your dream lover — even if you wouldn't normally touch them with a 10-foot pole — represents something you need to incorporate into your own life or your own behavior.”
Dreams don't always mean something specific, but if you're noticing any one of these signs, chances are your brain is trying to tell you something while you're asleep. Listen to it!
This article was originally published on November 6, 2015 and was updated on June 26, 2019.