Is Following your Dreams Something that Can Actually Be Done? Where’s the road??!
What does it mean exactly to follow your dreams? First off, you have to have dreams because you can’t follow what you don’t have. For starters, think about something that you want to do. What are you passionate about? What is something that you would really like to have, do, or see in the future? When you are planning a trip, you have to first set a destination, and then you figure out how to get there. The same principle applies to following your dreams. Set your destination first.
Now, you know where you are going, you can make plans on how to get there. Do you know what we just did? We just gave our dream another name… we made it into a GOAL. Words are powerful because they power perspective. Changing the word “dream” to “goal” puts it in a more attainable light. Now, we have found the road to following our dreams.
Following your Dreams: The Exact Steps!
Now that our dream has another name (goal) we can start mapping a path to follow to get to our destination. There are tons of great articles on goal setting, but I will give you the basics here. A goal must be:
- Have a time frame or deadline
For example, instead of “I wish we could take the kids to Disney World sometime.” Revise it to be more attainable, measurable, and put a time frame on it. It might look like “I want to save up $4,000 to take the kids to Disney World 5 years from now.” In this example, we have taken a Disney World Dream vacation and made it into a goal of taking the kids to Disney World.
There is another trick that master goal slayers use. Write your goals down on paper and put it where you can see it.
To Follow Your Dreams, Plan the Work, then Work the Plan
Now that you have your dream written in the form of a goal and staring you in the face every day, you are more likely to obtain it. Keeping the piece of paper there where you can see it every day serves as a constant reminder of what you are working towards. It reminds you of your WHY. After you have written your goal, you can subdivide it into smaller goals that are easier to obtain. Guess what? Every time you hit one of those smaller goals, you get positive feedback! You feel like you are making progress towards your goal and your dreams.
With our example dream that we are following, those smaller goals might look like this:
- Open a vacation savings account tomorrow JUST for the Disney Dream fund.
- $4,000 over 5 years divides into $800/year to meet our goal. That means we should save about $67/month.
- If there are 2 paychecks a month, then make it a priority to take out $34 per paycheck and put it in the Disney Dream Fund.
Now we have some smaller goals that are actionable. $34 per paycheck sounds much better than just the big task of saving $4000, doesn’t it? If you look at my math, you will see that I rounded a bit. What we would actually get putting aside $34/per paycheck is $68/month which over a 5 year period would give me $4080.
I have some dream goals printables that I would love to share with you that makes planning easy! Just enter your email below!
Working the Plan
Now comes what I consider the hard part because it requires action. You have to actually DO what you have planned out. This is where you start to follow your dreams instead of just planning. For our example goal, this means that I have to actually go open that savings account tomorrow. If you are following your dreams, you have to make them a priority. Treat that $34 like a bill that you HAVE to pay. You would not just let a bill sit out and only pay it if it was convenient, would you? Bills don’t work like that. The electric company is not going to be very understanding if you tell them, “I just didn’t feel like paying my bill this month, I’ll pay next month if I’m in the mood.”
I will tell you a secret about working the plan when you are following your dreams: that first step is the hardest. After you have been putting away that $34/paycheck for 6 months you probably won’t notice it that much. It only takes 21 days to form a habit. Progress begets progress. Starting to work the plan is the hardest step in this whole process.
What is Holding You Back from Following your Dreams?
Now I have given you the exact steps that are specific and actionable on how to follow your dreams. What is holding you back? Does it still seem scary? I know that my example dream may not be a huge one to many people, but it was just an example. What is your dream? Maybe you want to become a stay at home mom, but don’t have the finances to support it? Perhaps you want to make a certain amount of money per year? Is your dream getting out of the 9-5 grind?
Whatever your dream is, all the above steps can be used to achieve it. Where there is a will there is a way. Remember that saying? Find a way to make your dream come true. Turn it into a goal and take actionable attainable steps to get there within a certain period of time. The hardest part of following your dreams is starting.
Here are Some Common Reasons that People Do Not Start Following their Dreams and How to Overcome them.
1) Afraid of Failure
Feeling afraid of failing to reach your goal or of following your dreams holds a lot of people back. But why? Let me ask you this, what have you got to lose? If you don’t start saving for a Disney dream vacation, will you ever get it? No, probably not. If you want to be a stay at home mom, but don’t have the finances for it and don’t pursue any other means of obtaining those finances, will you get it? Probably not. Dreams have to be worked for. There may be rare circumstances when what we want falls right in our laps, but those are rare.
Most of the time, if you want something, you will have to work for it. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it. Remember your “why.” Let’s say that you start saving for that Disney vacation, but something breaks and you can’t put that $68 a month into savings. Let’s even say that happens for several months! (Life is like that sometimes, isn’t it?) You still have more in savings than you did when you started. Your Disney vacation might be delayed and you might be disappointed, but you still made progress and you can always start again. Persistence wins in the end when you are following a dream. Don’t be afraid to try again if it does not work out the first time.
2) Don’t Feel Prepared
Friends, do you remember how you felt when you had your first child, or bought your first house, or started your first job? Did you feel prepared? Probably not! (I didn’t – Yikes, what have I gotten myself into?!) Some action is better than no action. Your first actions may be imperfect. That’s ok! You can (and should) learn as you go. Life is full of little “on the job trainings” like that. I remember looking at my first born son sleeping peacefully in his cradle when he was just a few days old. (That sleeping peacefully in the cradle lasted about 2 minutes, by the way.)
I was overwhelmed, I was exhausted but I remembered thinking how much I loved him already, and how totally unprepared I was for this phase of my life. Doubts crept in, “I hope I can keep him alive! I can’t even keep a plant alive!” Well, I am happy to say that he did survive the infant stage and the toddler stage too! I didn’t know everything when I started, I learned as I went, like all of us do. You do not have to have all the answers right now. When following your dreams, starting is the hardest part. It is ok to not know what you are doing at first. You will figure it out! We are never too old to stop learning. Your dream is worth following!
3) Afraid of What Others Will Think
Yes, I know how silly that sounds. We are all adults now right? But the truth of the matter is that the opinions of those close to us DO matter to us. I care what my Mom thinks, I care what my husband thinks, and what my friends think. In my case, I probably care too much. What matters more is what you think. Sometimes other’s opinions are not what we think they will be. When I started this blog I was scared for anyone to find it! My husband knew about it and didn’t seem to have any strong feelings about it, but he supported me.
The person whose opinion I was really concerned about (and who I can nearly guarantee is reading this) was my Mom’s. She’s been really great to support me with this blogging thing. If you are really concerned about what someone close to you will think if you start taking steps to following your dream, have an honest conversation with them. Sometimes their opinions are not what we think they will be! Remember that your opinion is more important than all others combined.
4) Feeling Inadequate Compared to Others
Let me be perfectly clear on something. Comparing yourself to others is a trap. I know, most of us are naturally competitive and comparing ourselves to others comes naturally. I am guilty of this as well, and I have to remind myself not to compare myself to anyone else. When you compare yourself to others all it does is breed frustration and unease. It sets an impossibly high bar. There will always be someone better, faster, stronger, more successful. When you are following your dreams, there is always a learning curve. Do not allow yourself to be discouraged by someone else’s successes. They are not fighting the same battle that you are. Their circumstances are different , their challenges are different.
Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your personal growth. Document your growth, reward yourself for it. Hold yourself accountable and celebrate the small successes. With our example dream, it could be telling your husband, “YES! I have saved $68/month for 6 months now and we have $408 in savings to go towards our Disney dream vacation!” “Let’s go out for ice cream!” Celebrating these small successes and keeping track of them is a powerful tool to encourage and motivate yourself to keep moving towards following your dream.
Don’t worry about what other people are doing, concentrate on your own journey and your own successes.
The Best Advice for Following Your Dream: Just Start
Yes, that’s right, just start. Imperfect action is better than no action. You can learn along the way. The hardest part is getting started. A year from now, what will you wish you had started today? Your dreams are important, and they are more than dreams, they are goals. You can do this, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. I believe in you, now it’s time for you to believe in yourself and start taking your first steps. Plan the plan, and then work the plan.
Start by writing your dreams as goals that are attainable, actionable, measurable, and have a time frame. According to the Huffington Post, you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams if you write them down. Commit to carrying out your plan. Make it a priority. Your goals and dreams are important. You are important. Remember your “why.” Avoid the pitfalls of being afraid of failing, being scared of what others will think, comparing yourself to others, and not feeling prepared to start. If it scares you, that’s ok. Do it anyway! Your dreams are worth following.
If you liked this, I have some inspirational Backdrops and Printables I would love to share with you, including a new checklist for turning your dreams into goals. Just enter your email address and your name below. Happy Questing!