This has been a crazy time for me. I work retail and I basically just become an eating, sleeping, and retailing machine for the six weeks before Christmas. Then life gets back to normal. I’m not proud to have fallen off on my exercise and writing goals BUT I am proud of how excited I am to get back to them in the new year. I’m gonna be all right — in fact, in next year I plan to be spectacular.
And I’d like you to be spectacular too. You can do it. Whatever your dream is you can make a big step forward this year. It’s not easy. If it were easy you’d already have done it. But it’s SO possible, that’s why you’re smiling a little now, why you’re getting excited somewhere deep within your soul. The truth as I know it is that there’s a thin line, a sliver of possibility between the mediocre everyday and impossibly extraordinary — a path you can walk and — to quote Henry David Thoreau — “Meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
But if you want to change your life in a significant way, as I did last year when I went from a size 18 to a size 12 and as I hope to next year with my writing — you have to understand that you only have so much energy — mental and physical — and it’s precious. As far as I can tell, your regular life takes up 80% of your energy (work, relationships, day-to-day chores) so your success depends on guarding and focusing the other 20% on your goal.
Succeed and you’ll feel like you’re tied to a rocket blasting into the stratosphere. For these suggestions, I’m gonna to assume you already have a goal (click here if you need some planning inspiration) and just are looking for ways to move your dream into reality.
So here’s my five tips to actually freakin’ make your dreams a reality:
- See yourself as amazing. Just recently I gave a friend the wonderful book, Now, Discover Your Strengths , which encourages people to worry less about their weaknesses and instead see the greatness in their innate abilities . I know I’m awesome, but seeing myself as someone with strengths in Inclusion, Intellection, Input, Positivity, and Responsibility helps me focus on the things that set me apart and come easily to me. I know you can do great things, and you just have to believe it too. Look at your whole life, what you’ve done, what you’ve withstood, the kindness you’ve given others. Part of the book’s power is that it points out the special talents that come easily for you are the first things you overlook while saying ‘Everyone thinks that way,’ or ‘It’s nothing special.’ But you are special, and you can absolutely nail this — just go read some inspiring quotes and believe in your potential.
- Don’t spend your energy on negative relationships. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I RUN, I don’t walk, I run from negative relationships. It doesn’t matter if the person meant to hurt me with their words, or absence, or choices — if I feel bad after talking or thinking about them — I move on. I’m not callous, and I don’t judge. But I don’t believe I can ‘fix’ anyone who isn’t personally asking for help (or looking for it on my blog 😉 ) or change anyone’s personality. And I’m almost sure you can’t swim to the island of your dreams with the 500lb yoke of a negative relationship around your neck. Stop trying. Step away. Give up. And remember —
- Realize that this is not a time for ‘normal’. From now ’til whenever you achieve your goal, recognize that you may be giving up a lot of free time, limiting outings with friends, working extra hard etc. And that’s okay — no one’s asking you to give up the things you enjoy forever. I gave up sugar for five months so I could be the size I’d wanted to be for 15 years — and so I could be the healthiest possible going forward. Five months is nothing in the scheme of things.
- Hard work is a form of magic. By now I’ve come to see that gladly working hard is a rarity. I’m not sure why. Maybe parents punished you with work early on, maybe school made it boring and dumb and soul-sucking. Maybe your peers taught you that only suckers go the extra mile. Or maybe you think you’re smarter than the rest and are gonna find the ‘shortcut’ to success. I really don’t know. But man, you have got to work hard. I wish I could wave a magic ward and make you love putting in the effort, because then you’d be so far ahead of the crowd. Now, it’s never easy — and it’s only sometimes fun, but you get such amazing returns. If you like working hard, that’s great — now just make sure you aim yourself toward things that matter (I’m still working on this myself). If you don’t like work, try to work harder anyway — move faster, stay later, do the thing you’d rather not. Because your dreams are possible but they are also on the other side of a lot of dedicated practice. And as my sister Sarah, an artist, says, ‘I don’t think dreams ever come true with half-assed effort.’
- A good plan + hard work + time = success. There’s really no secret to getting where you want. You already know how to do this —
- Set aside a couple of hours (hopefully somewhere alone and quiet) and write out your big goal. Then break your goal into smaller monthly goals, then weekly goals. If your goal requires several points (i.e. go to Ireland requires money, passports, time off etc) make sure each of these sub-goals gets broken down too. Note: Actually writing them out is essential (don’t just think about them).
- Work hard. Push yourself to do a bit more than you feel comfortable doing (i.e. 12 sit ups instead of 10). Do something every day toward your goal. Imagine you’re already world-class — how would you exercise, write, talk, dress, etc. if you’d already achieved your goal? Note: Doing a crummy job, I’ve learned, is just about as pointless as doing nothing. Be all in.
- Give it time. Once you’re working hard at a good plan, stop second-guessing yourself! You can refine a little from week to week, but for the most part just say to yourself, ‘I’ll see where I am in six months,’ because all good things take time. Note: If you’re doing it right, your plan probably feel like it’s ruining your life almost immediately — for a time, things will get harder. When this happens don’t change your plan — you are probably going full-steam in the right direction. Give it six months. 😉
- Prepare for success. Dreams do come true. And there’s no feeling like committing yourself to a big dream and then starting to reap the rewards. For months last fall, everywhere I went friends commented on my great appearance and health — and I had the satisfaction of seeing a long-term dream come galloping — full-glory — into reality.
Let’s do it together this year.