The last few weeks, I’ve been talking about jobs, dreams, and calling. First I talked about dealing with a non-dream job, then about what a calling is and how to find it. Now I want to share a step-by-step guide that’s guaranteed to achieve your dreams in six weeks, or your money back guaranteed!
Yeah…not so much. If anyone ever tries to get your money with a promise like that, ignore them. I’m not saying miracles can’t happen, but you can’t plan on being the exception instead of the rule, and if your dreams are so easily achieved that you can get there in six weeks, you may need to reevaluate your dreams.
So now that we know what NOT to do (believe anyone who says it will be easy), how DO you achieve those seemingly impossible dreams you think about every day? What are the nuts and bolts of getting from where you are now, unhappy and overworked, to your dream where everything is perfect? Well, first off, life is never perfect. But here are some principle to keep in mind that will get you closer to your dreams than anything else. They’re no-brainers, but often overlooked in our rush to try the easy route.
1. Work hard – you think you know this. You nod to yourself, face set, knowing you’ll do whatever it takes. But you don’t really know. Unless your dreams are pretty small scale (which is fine!), what you want will probably take thousands of hours of hard, frustrating, disappointing work. Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his best-selling book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in any field. The elite don’t make it because of raw talent, they make it because they’ve fallen in love with practice and do it incessantly. This means staying up late, not hanging out with friends as much, living frugally, and more. Dreams require sacrifice.
2. Have a Plan – so maybe you have the commitment it takes. But no amount of hard work will get you anywhere without a plan. So, find people who have achieved what you want, and read what they say about it. Two years ago I knew nothing about writing or publishing. Since then I’ve spent countless hours talking to people, doing research, reading blogs, watching webinars, signing up for newsletters, anything to learn more about my field and find out what other people are doing to succeed (look for free content, I promise it’s there, you just have to look). Now, make a plan. Define what it is you want and lay out achievable, incremental steps to get to where you’re going. Don’t be afraid to constantly reevaluate and improve your plan, but always have one. Without a map, you’ll get somewhere, but not where you intended.
3. Be Patient – you’re working hard, you’re following your plan, now what? Settle in for the long-haul, my friend. Remember those 10,000 hours? I’m not saying it will take you that long, but it will take time. Impatience is your enemy. It urges you to take the short-cuts, and settle for less. Anything worth achieving takes time, and over time you build experience, skill, and knowledge. Now, don’t lollygag. Don’t put forth piddling effort, then wonder why five years later you’re no closer to your dreams. Always be reviewing your plan to make sure it’s actually working. Just remember that once you’re on the right path, dreams are a far off goal that will take the journey of a life-time to reach.
4. Never Give Up – yup, you knew it was coming. You’ve worked, your plan was good, you’ve been patient, but things just aren’t working. You’d hoped to be further along by now. Maybe you failed somewhere and you just can’t muster the courage or determination to try again. You think you’ll never make it, so what’s the point? Well, yeah, if you give up you’ll never make it. The only sure way to fail is to stop trying. I’m serious. NEVER. GIVE. UP. The ones you look up to, the ones you envy, the ones who have it all? They didn’t give up, so don’t you give up either.
5. Don’t Lose Sight of What’s Really Important – Points 1-4 being said, please for the love of God don’t forget what’s really important in life. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not your dreams. I talked in a previous post about how to win while on your journey to success and it revolves around the important truth that your journey is more important than your destination. What really makes you who you are, what really fulfills you in life, is what you DO NOW, not what you are working toward in the future. What’s important are the lives you touch, the good you do, and the people you love day after day, year after year. Dreams are hard to achieve, but in your rush to reach for the stars, don’t forget the beauty of earth all around you.
So, lets review: Work hard, have a plan, be patient, DO NOT GIVE UP, and while you’re doing all that, live life to it’s fullest. Your dreams will come as they come.
I hope this post has been helpful. Please share it with anyone and everyone you think may benefit, and please share your thoughts! I would love to hear any advice you have to add to this, and even things that have and haven’t worked for you. Thank and have a great week!