Have you ever found yourself so deep in a funk, that low level misery has become your new normal? Perhaps the responsibilities of day to day living have taken you far away from the life you dreamed of as a hopeful college student. Maybe you’re not even sure what your dreams are anymore. The disconnect between living lives we love vs. the lives we believe will bring us security is commonplace.
Last night, driving home from teaching yoga, I dropped in on my best friend. She and her kids had just finished dinner and were in wind-down mode in preparation for bed time. She, like me, is a single Mom and we have bonded through this shared experience.
We got to talking about what was going on in our lives, when in response to a work dilemma she was telling me about, I asked her the question: “What do YOU want?” She looked at my blankly and said: “I don’t know…” Her brow furrowed as she struggled to answer me. I followed up with “What would you do if money were not an issue?”
My bestie is a highly educated artist, who creates beautiful things and delicious meals with an effortlessness that I only dream of having. She is also one of the most fiscally responsible and hard working people I know. She believes however, that she will always be stuck slaving away at a day job that doesn’t come close to using her talents or fulfilling her dreams. She exists in a place of moderate stability and financial comfort, while her soul aches for a deeper connection to the artistic pursuits she held in her heart as a younger woman. Most of the time, her inner thoughts, ideas and feelings get tucked away because of the busy-ness of her daily life. Like so many of us, she has come to believe that the current reality of her life is the only reality possible.
Sometimes our ruts and routines become calcified because they seem safer than taking a risk and exploring new ways of thinking, making a living or being in relationship.
I asked her to remember the dreams she had for herself as a younger person, and to become crystal clear on the life she would live if she didn’t have to clock in and out every day. We often avoid this kind of clarity, because it can be painful to realize we’re robbing ourselves of joy in exchange for what we think will bring us security.
I’m not advocating irresponsibility on a whim, I just know that in order to create the life of your dreams you have to have an idea of what it would look like. You must be intimately familiar with what kind of life you’d lead if you had all the money you could want or need. Then, you must carve out time in your current schedule to devote to those pursuits every single day. Wake up early or go to bed later. Cut out time wasters like social media or television and instead devote that time to taking steps towards living your dream.
If you have no idea how to do that, I recommend beginning with the end in mind and working backward. Break your end goal down into small steps that you can work on every day. Your self-esteem will increase and you’ll feel more connected to your dreams if you’re actually working towards them daily.
If you do this, there will come a day in the not too distant future when you’ll be able to decide if you are ready to make the leap from your “day job” to your “dream job”. It may not happen overnight, it may even take years, (that part is solely determined by you). The most important thing is that you take the first step. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr said: “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Disregard the perfectionistic voice in your head that says you can’t and just get going. The plan you start out with might not be the plan that ultimately gets you where you want to be, because your plans may change as you change. It will, however, get you out of the starting gate and on the path to greater happiness.
Make a commitment to explore new ways of thinking about what’s possible for yourself. Beliefs are just thoughts, and thoughts can be changed (as long as you are willing to make the changes). The truth is that almost anything you desire is possible. What are you willing to give of yourself in order to create the life of your dreams? I assure you, you can create lasting and profound change in your life by devoting just minutes a day towards your goal.
What’s your dream? What steps can you take today to begin your journey towards living the life your soul craves? All progress starts with taking that first step. I’m with you on the journey.