There's an old Nike slogan that said, "Life is Short, Play Hard." They should've written, Life can be small, dream big! Life is too short to not really live it to its full potential. That's why you'll often hear me say to callers on my radio show, follow the dream. Life with a dream can be filled with adventure, meaning, and purpose.
First Define Your Dream
In a moment I'll talk about steps to take to fulfilling your dream as well as dream-killers to be aware of, but first...what is your dream?
James wrote to me: "I'd love to go after my dreams. I just don't know what they are."
Most people who don't figure out what they want to do, end up doing what other people tell them to do, or they just settle for what's safe and comfortable.
Think about what it is that moves you. What seems to be a right fit for you? What can't you stop thinking about? If you could push a magic button and have your greatest dreams fulfilled, what would they be?
Following your dream gives your life focus and purpose. The dream can be anything you want it to be. Your dream could be becoming a waitress, working at a bank, being an artist, teacher, lawyer, writer or maybe even becoming the President of the United States. Or maybe your dream isn't centered around a job, but maybe you want to figure out how to travel more, how to cook amazing food, how to help meet a need in your community or the world. Whatever it is, if it is meaningful to you, and not harmful to yourself or others, go ahead and pursue it!
How To Start Following Your Dream
Ask anybody what is it that they'd really like to do, and most people will have an answer. But, unfortunately, in many cases, it's something other than what they're doing. So how can you get started pursuing your dreams?
Here's a six-step plan for fulfilling your dream:
1. Catch a clear vision of where you want to go. Take time to define for yourself exactly where you want your dream to take you.
2. Find people who are doing what you want to do and talk to them. Ask them what it took for them to get there. Ask some of these people to help you on your own personal journey. Perhaps they can mentor you on your journey.
3. Figure out the steps it's going to take to get there. Don't look for a simple, quick path. This is a journey you're deciding to undertake. You're going to need a lot of help, and a lot of patience, and it's going to take time. Paul wrote: "Sometimes I really hate practicing my guitar. I want to be a good guitar player, a really good one. I wish I was just automatically good. The best I can do now is to do what I can and keep working at it. I'm better now than I ever was. The only way that would change would be if I stopped practicing altogether."
4. Set large and small goals and track your progress to keep you motivated. Do something little each day. Don't wait for big blocks of time when you can really dig into something serious. The more frequently you work at your goals, the more energized and encouraged you'll be. Set short-term goals and track your progress. This will help you maintain focus on your dream. Trust me, if you don't stay focused, you'll be distracted and get busy doing all kinds of other things. Here's what Julie said to herself to stay motivated: I say to myself things like "I can" and "I will," instead of I can't" or "I won't."
5. Be prepared for setbacks. Anyone who has ever gone after their dream has experienced the pain and disappointment of rejection and failure along the way. These setbacks don't have to stop you from continuing toward your goal. Be prepared to find a different route if the one you were counting on turns into a dead end. In fact, you haven't failed until you actually quit trying. So don't let setbacks destroy your dream, but rather let them motivate you to try even harder. Bri wrote: "Whenever I hit a road bump I can choose to be depressed and just give up, or I can take it for what it is, learn from it, and move forward. Knowing that everyone fails sometimes actually helps."
6. Find a way to use your dream to help other people. If the dream is only for you, it will be easy to lose motivation and give up. If you can catch a vision for how you will be able to help and encourage other people, you will find it easier to stay on track. Wherever you are, and whatever you do can be an opportunity to help bring life to every stranger you meet. And that's a dream all of us should pursue.
Just remember, your dream isn't going to happen just because you want it to. I always say, "If it was easy, everyone would be doing it." That's why you need to make going after your dream a priority in your life.
Once you're committed to pursuing your dreams, it's important to know, and resist, the most common dream-killers.
The most common dream killers
- Laziness - It's just too much work.
- Not having clearly defined goals - I don't know where to start or how to finish.
- Thinking I can't - I'm not good enough. There are so many others better than me.
- Listening to other people's negative talk - Maybe what they say about me, and my dream is true. John wrote: "My dream is to join the SWAT team. Except all the people at school keep telling me I can't do it. It's frustrating when everyone around you tries to stop you from doing what you want to do."
- It's become too difficult - I can't stand the failures and rejection along the road to success.
- Money - If only I had more money, my dreams would come true.
- Wrong motives - I just want to be loved, rich, and famous.
- It's not your dream -Those around me will finally be happy when I ________.
- Unrealistic goals - I'll never reach the Sun, so why even attempt the journey! (Who knows, maybe you'll reach the moon!)
- Deadlines - If my dream doesn't come true soon, I'm going to quit
- Quitting - I'm done. No dream is dead until you quit.
Don't Give Up
There are always going to be many opportunities for you to give up. But it's up to you whether or not you do. Just remember, as long as you are heading in the right direction, you are being successful. It's going to take a lot of work and persistence. Nobody ever achieved his or her dreams just by wishing. You have to work at it.
Have you heard people say the joy is in the journey? That is absolutely correct. If you're miserable along the way, only thinking you'll be happy once you reach your goal, you're probably going to be miserable once you get there, as well.
God Can Help
God desires for you to follow your dreams. He created you with a purpose and gave you your unique talents and abilities to achieve that purpose. In fact, God plants desires in your heart.
"Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this." Psalm 37:4-5
Pray to God and ask Him to help you on your journey towards your dream. Ask Him to help you see how your dream can fall in line with His dream for you and how it can bring Him honor.