I was listening to a TED Talk the other day and the presenter was speaking about amazing things she was able to accomplish in her teens and early 20’s because she was, to paraphrase, “too young and naïve to know that failure was a possibility.”
That statement struck a chord with me, because it was very much the way I was at that age. After college I moved to Europe and just expected things to work out, and so they did – beautifully. Because I didn’t even think about being scared, I expected – and got – good jobs in the fields of radio, television and film. I lived in Prague, right on Václavské námÄ›stí, one of the city’s main squares. I’d equate it to living right in Times Square in New York – it’s famous but very few people actually live there. Well, I did, in Prague, in affordable and comfortable apartments, not once, but twice, for the duration of my three and a half years in the city.
Looking back on that time and countless other fortunate “accidents” in my 46 years on this planet, I’m starting to see a real pattern, and that is, when I’m aligned with my purpose and focused on my goals, things always fall into place. And even though some times are tough and it’s not immediately obvious that it’s all working out as it should be, looking back it’s easy to see that the lessons, the connections, the foundation blocks, are all part of the plan.
This is probably an easier concept to embrace when we’re young, perhaps because we tend to not over-analyze things. But as we get older there are more things to consider – mortgages, kids, tenure, retirement, and sometimes we get stuck in our own heads and our own lives. It’s easy to move out of the realm of possibility and into more of a fear and lack-based mentality, unless we actively fan the fires of faith and hope. Although I strongly believe in the Law of Attraction – the idea that the Universe is always conspiring for our higher good – I find that I have to constantly be corralling and taming my thoughts and emotions to maintain the youthful panache that took me on a most excellent adventure to Europe, Los Angeles and then on to New York.
I frequently hear from people, many of whom are well-established in successful careers, that they feel unfulfilled because they have let go of the part of themselves that is chasing a dream. Sometimes they find that the voice inside their head that’s telling them to seize the moment simply cannot be silenced any longer. Those few who listen to this voice and ultimately take steps towards living their dream are the ones I think of as homesteaders.
Just like the pioneers who built our country, these folks are drawing a line, making a stake in what they claim as their own. No one can see every step of the way when starting on a new journey, but there is the promise of adventure, crossing paths with new people, the self-satisfaction of knowing that you went for it, and the peace that comes from not having to wonder, “what if.”
If your own little voice has been trying to be heard lately, here are some steps you can follow to move closer to living the life of your dreams.
1. Be aware of when you feel most passionate and alive. Is it when you’re talking about becoming an actor? Does woodworking fill you with excitement? Is it working with children, or with animals? Do you love to write or do crafts? Many times people are not sure what their passion is, or what direction to go in, but if you start to tune into the way you talk about certain things, you might start to get some clues. Writing your thoughts down in a journal or developing a regular meditation practice can also help guide you in the right direction.
2. Once you have a sense of what your life’s passion is, it’s time to exercise your imagination. Sit quietly, close your eyes, and imagine a perfect life where you’re fully living your dreams and expressing yourself through your gifts. Allow yourself to really let your imagination loose here, in a big way. Release any limiting beliefs you have about your abilities or the feasibility of whatever your passion is. Just imagine that your wildest dreams are coming to fruition. For many of us, getting comfortable with seeing this picture is one of the hardest parts of the process, but it’s also one of the most important.
3. No one achieves their goals by snapping their fingers or waving a magic wand. Everyone who does great things does so by moving consistently in the direction of their dreams. You can turn baby steps into a daily ritual until it becomes a habit. I like to begin every day by writing down at least 5 things that I’m grateful for, 5 things that I’m excited about that are coming up in the near future, 5 goals I have for myself in different areas of my life, and for each goal at least one baby step that I intend to take that day to move me in the direction of my dreams.
4. As you think about the steps to turn your goals into reality, there are going to be things that come up that are outside of your comfort zone. That is good. Go out of your way to identify what these things are, and then do them, one by one. Stepping out of your comfort zone could include joining Toastmasters and regularly giving speeches to that group. It can also involve joining a gym, or picking up the phone and calling someone who you believe can help you move your new business forward. Try to push on the limits of what is comfortable every single day.
5. Share your gifts. You may not be in a position to get paid with money right away when you start pursuing your dreams, but there still may be ways to share your gifts with others. Can you volunteer at a school or retirement home? What about becoming a non-traditional intern for someone you admire in the field that you’re trying to break into? There are more ways to get a return on your investment than just monetarily, and all of these actions will help move you towards living the life you’re dreaming about.