About a year ago, I was waking up before dark every morning. I had a set of rituals that I knew would put me on course to the life of my dreams.
The only problem was -- and this was a big one -- I was chasing the wrong dream. At the time, I was working at being a life coach, and I was thinking that I would write novels once I retired. I actually wrote this to a friend in an email a year ago, that I would write novels when I retire, and not long after that, my coaching business circled the drain. Although I didn't appreciate it at the time, my prayers were being answered. The Universe always has our backs.
Cue the sound of a needle scratching a record. Is there anything you tell yourself you will do more of "when you retire"? If so, then there's a big chance you should be making more time for it NOW -- not some far off time that might never come.
There's no final resting place during this life when you're free to prance through a meadow. It's imperative we make sure to have fun now, along the way, or we waste the whole shooting match on boring obligations.
Here are the 10 Easy Steps to Making Your Dreams Come True -- today!
1. What's your dream?
This is honestly the trickiest step. We complicate the heck out of it. We think, "What's my life's purpose?" and then we break out into a cold sweat.
Start with the easy stuff. What feels good to you? You don't need to decide everything right this instant, but just start collecting ideas for your life that make you feel excited and enthusiastic about the possibilities. Write some things down. Just keep some kind of simple record of what your dream for your life is.
Close your eyes and see what pictures emerge. Images that come to my mind are sunny nature scenes. I also like the idea of someone wrapped in a cozy sweater and sipping coffee while they smile at a laptop. (That's me right now.) I'm a writer, so I'm now committed to writing every day. One day I will own a beach house. That's about it!
2. Decide and believe.
Many of us will pick a delicious dream for ourselves and then immediately start pecking furiously at the edges with a list of ways it can't, won't, or shouldn't work out for us. Stop that!
If there's a word for both deciding and believing in one fell swoop, the word would be commitment. You have to commit to your dream. Don't just put it in a box and close the lid, never to see the light of day. You have to take it out and fondle it... every... day. Take it out, play with it, give it some air.
Decision + Belief = Commitment
Decide you want your dream to happen. For real. Believe it will and can happen. For real. This is the magic sauce that will help propel your dream into reality. If you don't decide and believe, and therefore commit, well then... as Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't -- you're right."
3. Release fear.
This next step isn't a one-time event. It's probably something you're going to have to do over and over, every time you notice you're stuck and you've stopped forward momentum.
We disguise fear under logistics all the time: "Oh, I don't have time to go after that dream, I need to make money!" Sure ya do. So get up earlier.
"Well then I don't have time!" Sure ya do. So get up earlier.
"But then I'll be exhausted!" Here's the thing. Last year, when I was getting up early, it was a bit of a battle. I was always feeling like it took heroics to drag my limp carcass out of bed that early.
It's all in the attitude. This go round, I decided it was going to be easy and exciting to get up early to write every day. I decided it's not going to be difficult. I decided to get the sleep I need, and not be so dramatic and sacrificial about getting up early.
Choose the right attitude. Release fear. Repeat.
4. Take action!
Eegads, finally, the part where we actually DO stuff.
Figure out what you need to DO to make your dream happen. Then go do it.
To sum up step four, take action daily.
5. Love yourself.
It's really easy to lose the plot in the frenzy of daily living. Just slow down, pump the breaks, relax. Listen.
Take quiet time alone every day -- again, early morning if need be -- to reflect, read, write, and to hear yourself think. Give yourself the time and space to feel your feelings and organize your thoughts so that you may stay in touch with your own needs and desires for your life.
6. Use other's success as inspiration.
When you notice someone more fortunate, practice saying to yourself, "You know what? I want that, too! I'm going to figure out how and make it happen!"
If we want good things to happen to us, we have to stop judging others negatively for the good things they bring into their lives. Judging and criticizing others is such a silly energy drain. I will go out on a limb here and say that the majority of people who judge others negatively for their success don't realize they do it, or they don't realize there's anything wrong with doing it.
I saw a Facebook comment the other day that basically said all rich people are thieving, greedy liars and that all poor people are generous and would give you the shirt off their backs. Nonsense. NONSENSE. That's a waste of breath right there. Bill Gates has donated $26 BILLION to philanthropic causes. I would rather imagine all the good Bill's money is doing out there in the world than to take one second to consider accepting the smelly shirt off some guy's back.
Instead of being Judge-y McJudge Pants, use others as inspiration: see what you want, and figure out how to make it happen. When you paint everyone who is rich with one brush (bad) you are going to repel money like it's your job. Money isn't imbued with magical good or evil qualities. It's just money. It helps you live comfortably. Accept it without making bizarre value judgments.
7. View mistakes as lessons, not an excuse to give up.
This happened to me last year when my coaching business took a nosedive: I panicked, and then I gave up. Which was fine, because I realized that coaching wasn't my dream after all. When things didn't go well, I didn't think, "Just a bump in the road, let me fix this." Instead I thought about all the hours and days I'd spent on the administrative junk: the web pages I developed, the excruciating task of writing sales copy, and the PDFs I'd created, and I realized that this wasn't my dream. I hated that stuff.
I just like writing.
I didn't learn that lesson right away. Instead I spent lots of time saying, "Woe is me," and panicking about money, and panicking about finding work, and just generally spending all of my time panicking. In case that's not clear: I panicked.
It took me a really long time to simply view my mistakes as lessons. Instead, I did all the stuff I coached other people not to do. Like when you make a mistake, it's not a reflection on your character. It's just data about what you should do next.
Finally, after close to a year of panic followed by wallowing, I'm back!
8. Value tiny decisions.
The decision to get up early every morning is a momentous one. The tiny decisions happen every single day, when I look at the clock. Do I get up, or do I stay in bed?
Every little decision, everything single thing we do, matters.
Because what you do determines who you become. And who you become means either your success at achieving your dream or your failure. Choose wisely.
9. Don't let bad habits win.
It's so easy to blame our small lives, our tiny, chronic failures on our bad habits. We get sucked into the couch for TV marathons. We get sucked into pizza boxes and chip bags and some of us (ehem) even get into the habit (and then out of the habit and into the habit) of using beer or wine "to relax" when the going gets tough.
Then we spend all our precious energy on CRAP like trying to lose weight or break these bad habits. What you think about is what you get. If you spend all your time obsessing about your bad habits, your whole life is going to be a Sisyphean task of rolling the boulder up the hill while you resist, followed by getting steamrolled when you get tired and give in.
And yes, I'm speaking from experience. I say this with the utmost kindness and respect to both myself and to you: GET A LIFE. It's only when our habits stand in the way of the life of our dreams that we will be compelled to chuck the now-annoying habits to the curb. Dream big, take action, worry about your habits some other day, like when they prevent you from getting up early.
Oh, and see step 3: release fear. Usually our bad habits are nothing more than a tepid attempt at escaping fear, but then we've really gone down the rabbit hole INTO fear when we do things that are self-destructive as an escape. Release fear, don't try to numb it; it doesn't work that way.
10. Believe the Universe is friendly.
I'll leave you with this quote:
"And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."
-- Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
In light of this quote, it's possible to boil this post down to three steps: 1. Dream big. 2. Act consistently. 3. Be amazed as the Universe conspires to help you achieve your dream.
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