photo by: Adrien Robert | Unsplash
We are fortunate to live in a society that encourages people to truly pursue their dreams and to chase after their aspirations. It’s woven into the very fabric of our history pages.
If you have a dream that has yet to be fulfilled, you’ll know it exists because you’ll experience an inner ‘ache’.
That ache is a reminder that something inside you remains incomplete.
I’m referring to a hidden longing that will occasionally nag at you and show up at the most random times.
For example, you might be watching a movie or listening to a song and somehow it speaks to you. You might be reading an article, listening to a podcast or having a conversation with a person and their words resonate with you. Or maybe you’re enjoying the outdoors or working out and the quietness stirs your heart.
How do you turn this ‘ache’ into an active part of your life?
There are three reasons people don’t pursue (or they stop pursuing) their aspirations.
Time: “I don’t have time”
Your dream gets an equal amount of attention as taking a shower and eating. You get to give care and time to the dream that’s living inside you.
Let’s get to the point: You do have time.
The time you could use to invest in your dream might be swallowed up by serving other people; or making sure others are happy; or maybe you’re marathon-ing a Netflix series; or being distracted with less important goals.
People get to the point where they want to find time to work on their dream, but get distracted by other events and responsibilities going on in their lives. It’s also a common occurrence for people to forfeit their time for less important things; which, in turn, become excuses for making their aspirations the number one priority.
Prioritize: “This is a priority I want to do and now I need to act on it.”
So, you’ve decided you’re going to give yourself the time to make your dream a priority. Excellent!
Why wasn’t it a priority to begin with? Know the answer.
It’s easy to fall back into old patterns. Knowing what was keeping you from actively pursuing your dream is an important piece of information. That knowledge will help hold yourself accountable and be on the lookout for old patterns to not creep back in.
Why do we talk ourselves out of going after what we really want? Why do we think the ache will eventually go away? Why do we think the only way to truly fulfill a dream is by carving out ‘big chunks of time’?
Let’s get straight to the point: You and I both know that every little bit of time, any amount of time, is valuable. Every little bit of investment adds up. Agree?
I’m a firm believer of the snowball effect. Start with a little clump of snow, add a little more snow, and it grows. Then add another wad of snow and it gets bigger. No matter what amount of snow I add, it can only grow. (in winter, that is!)
Never underestimate the amount of time you commit to your dream. When your heart is focused on tackling your dream any amount of time you give will help it be successful. Every moment that you are intentional is an investment and being proactive will be rewarded.
Action creates motion. Commit to an action: “What is the action item I’m going to do this week?”
Be careful not to adopt someone else’s style. You’re not a robot. Who you are and how you tackle your dream will be different than any other person on this planet.
Now that you’re recognizing that you actually do have time and you’re ready to stop making excuses, your next step is to replace the word ‘time’ with the word ‘action’.
Action builds momentum.
Avoid putting a duration on an action item. For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to make time to research the supplies I’ll need for my project” – you can say, “The action item for this week is to research the supplies I’ll need for my project.”
The action item is a goal that you get to accomplish.
Goals are attainable.
Do you have a goal?
If your answer is yes then you have time.
Self-discipline turns into habits: “These actions will become my normal.”
Typically it takes 90 days to reprogram your mindset and turn self-discipline into healthy habits. And what emerges from healthy habits is a new rhythm in your lifestyle; something that becomes normal and easy.
The first steps when activating your dream are usually filled with energy and enthusiasm. Fantastic!
I wish I could tell you that your enthusiasm will never leave you. But we both know that’s not true. Our enthusiasm will ebb and flow.
What do you do when your energy subsides and enthusiasm dissipates? It will indeed require a bit of self-discipline because the dream hasn’t become a habit – yet. If it was a habit in your life we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
To move you from self-discipline to an easy lifestyle requires you to create new habits.
With healthy habits I guarantee you this: your joy will only increase.
“I get to create healthy habits that will build momentum, and it’s going to require self discipline.”
What habits do you want to create in your life? What ‘self-discipline’ steps might you need to do for the next 90 days?
Passion is your foundation: “I get to pursue my dream!”
Never lose the excitement and sparkle. If there’s no excitement for your dream, then time will be harder to carve out.
Do you remember that moment when the ache showed up in your heart for the very first time? Do you remember the hope and belief that, maybe, just maybe, your dream could come true?
Passion is a signal that what lives inside you is important to you. Passion is the inside desire being lived out.
What I wish people would say about their aspirations are: “I get to dream. I get to pursue my dream. I get to give myself time to invest in my dream. I get to build healthy habits that build momentum. I get to add my dream to my everyday life.”
An important side note to remember: When you experience a lull in your passion, that’s the time for refueling. Lulls are not complacency or a lack of interest. The majority of people (me included!) cannot maintain high intensity because it’s not sustainable.
You will dip into lulls and that’s normal. Your dream is not forgotten! You just need an emotional break. You’re still going to steward it. Give yourself a timeline of how long you need to be in your lull. Put a reminder on your calendar that the lull is over and it’s time to get back to doing a little bit of something every day. This is where your friend, self-discipline, will be needed.
When that calendar reminder dings you, call someone for a pep talk (seriously). Get back to adding a little snow to the snowball. The momentum isn’t gone.
You’ll look back and be incredibly proud that you didn’t quit. You didn’t give up. You stayed the course with the dream you have in your heart.
An important side note about passion: Dreams require both passion and practicality. If you go too far into the practical you will lose your passion. If you go too far into driving your dream with passion, you will burn out.
Passion asks the question: I wonder where this is going to take me?
Practicality asks the question: I wonder how I’m going to get there?
Passion and Practicality complement each other. Both are necessary for your dream to truly be fulfilled.
By the way, for what it’s worth, I believe in you.
ps. Brenda Brown and I did a 4 part podcast series called: Do ‘Tackling Your Dream’ Well. Part 1 is based on this article. In Part 2 we talk more in depth about the fear associated with tackling your dream. In Part 3 we talk about how incredibly important it is to forgive (others and, most importantly, yourself). Forgiveness is key to fulfilling your dream. In Part 4, we answer some questions that people submitted to us. If you’d like to listen to our series, please visit my webpage: www.karenthrall.com/podcast . You can also choose your listening preference on our Podcast Site: www.buzzsprout.dothatwell.com