What does it take for you to live out your dreams? What kind of sacrifice would you have to make to live your life exactly the way you want to live it? What are the financial implications of making your dreams a reality?
I have big, big dreams, but I'm also a realist. These two things don't co-exist easily. There's a tendency for me to get very excited about my dreams and then have my realistic brain come in and start mentally listing all of the reasons why my dreams aren't practical or why they won't work.
If you've read anything I've been writing for the last month or two, you probably know that I recently quit my day job, sold all my stuff, and moved to a tiny little place at the beach to run my businesses and write lots of books.
This has been a dream of mine for many years and after a lot of agonizing about what to do, I pulled the trigger and made the move. But living my dream had a price.
First, I did what pretty much everyone on the planet told me not to do, and I cashed out my 401-k. I'm not advocating that anyone else do this to fund their dream; this was a very hard decision to make. I did lots of research and knew the risks before I did it and I determined that it was the right decision for me.
Next, I moved away from my home town and left behind lots of friends and family. I didn't move that far away (don't want this to sound overly dramatic) but I moved to a town where I don't know anybody and it's taking some time to lay down new roots, not just personally, but professionally as well.
And finally, I stepped way, way out of my comfort zone to make my dream a reality. This may not seem like a big deal, but for me it was. I traded a lot of financial and personal security for the chance to chase my dreams. Was it worth it? I'm not sure yet. Ask me in six months.
Yes, living your dream has a price, but so does not living your dream. When you don't pursue your dreams and live your life in a way that is fulfilling and enjoyable, you pay the hefty price of regret. There's always the wondering and the "what-ifs" that can weigh heavily on you.
So what do you do if you're like me? What do you do if your dreams have you with your head in the clouds but you still like your feet firmly planted to the ground?
1. Have a plan. Before you do anything, do your homework. Research all the possibilities and create a plan to help you navigate all the changes.
2. Think negatively. No, that's not a typo. Thinking positively is certainly important, but thinking through possible unpleasant scenarios may actually help you prepare for if and when things don't go according to plan. Having a strategy for dealing with setbacks and snags may help you feel more confident about moving forward because you'll know that you are equipped to handle trouble when it comes your way.
3. Seek advice, but go your own way. There are a lot of naysayers out there in the world and some of them might be well-meaning in their cautionary tales. It's helpful to pick the brains of those that have chosen a path similar to the one you are interested in taking, but in the end, you are the one that has to live your life so seek advice when it's practical, but make the necessary decisions on your own.
4. Be prepared to be uncomfortable. It's called the comfort zone for a reason; because it's comfortable. That feeling of being comfortable comes from the familiar. When you're chasing down your dreams and making big changes in your life you may find yourself crossing over into unknown territory. This is scary for many people (I know it was for me) and that fear alone causes many people to give up before they even start. You have to be prepared to feel the fear of the unknown, to know that you may not be successful, and then have the courage to move forward anyway.
5. Just do it. Even if you've made a plan, done your homework, gotten good advice, and made all the necessary preparations, you'll still never be fully ready. There's never going to be a perfect time, and you may never feel like you've got everything under control. Do it anyway. I spent a lot of time agonizing over all the details and I realized that this was just fear standing in the way. At some point I knew that I had planned as much as I could and that the only thing left to do was to take the leap.
Maybe your dreams aren't as big as mine, maybe they're bigger! Maybe you have a dream that you can do in stages and that will help minimize the risk and make it less scary. Whatever it is you want to have, do, be, or achieve in life, just know that there is a price. Once you know the price, you can make an informed decision about whether or not you are willing to pay it.