Sometimes, life gets sh*tty. We can get so focused on the things we don’t want that it’s hard to see anything else.
And, why would we? Life is hard.
We experience physical pain, illness, and stress. We experience emotional turmoil, grief, and anguish. If we’re not careful, we can get so stuck that we feel like there is no way out.
It’s like the light at the end of our tunnel is a train, and we are bound to the tracks.
No matter how hopeless, how helpless, or how dire our situation feels—we always have the power to change it. And typically, the change begins when we choose it. When we decide that we’ve had enough of the sh*tty stuff, and we’re ready to move onto something happier, something more comfortable, more exciting—that’s the first step.
But, just deciding that we want something new isn’t enough.
I can say all day long, “I’m tired of corporate health care, and I’ve decided to become a writer instead.” In fact, I’ve been saying that for a while. I could keep on saying it for years, but until I start actively working toward making it happen, that’s just talk.
To bring my dream of becoming a writer to fruition, I have to actively seek it. That’s the second step.
I have to learn about my craft: how to write better, how to market myself, how to get a book published, and so on. I have to network with other writers, so I can learn from their experience. I’ve had to take some classes, and attend workshops, and read books that other authors have written—books about writing books, even. All the information and knowledge I gain by doing these things is valuable—if I put it into action.
Without action, it doesn’t matter how much I know about my craft. I’m no closer to my goal. That’s the third step.
Sometimes, our goals feel so big, they seem downright impossible. Writing a book is hard. It’s a marathon project that keeps you up all night and takes over your weekends. You can look at statistics online all day about how many books are written that never get published. You may even encounter people in the world who will tell you that it’s not possible to become an author today—the market is too saturated, you have to be a celebrity to publish a memoir, and on and on. I’ve found it helpful to just ignore all that mess.
Ignore all the can’ts, won’ts, shouldn’ts, and couldn’ts. Ignore your haters, your doubters, and anyone who tries to convince you that your dream is too big. Clearly, they just don’t know how powerful you are, or how educated, talented, determined, and focused.
The only person who can keep you from your dreams is you. Realizing that is the fourth step.
The only way I have found to make meaningful, lasting changes in my life is to take little steps toward them every single day. Writing a book takes some time. As much as I would like to just lock myself away from the world and bang it out—I have a life outside of my book to maintain.
I’m a single mom. I have a corporate job—one that I’m grateful for, and still need very much. I’m in the process of losing 100 pounds, so making time to cook healthy food, to exercise, to rest, and take good care of my body is important. I have a social life to keep up with, relationships to foster, friends who mean the world to me. I have volunteer work to do in my community that is important to me. It feeds my soul and keeps me grounded. I have a meditation practice, a yoga practice, a French Bulldog, and a to-do list that can feel a mile long. It would be easy for me to say that I don’t have time to make my dreams come true.
I can’t wait for my writing time to appear, I have to create it. I have to carve it out of my day, set it aside, and protect it. For me, this means waking up before the sun, so I can write without interruption. I spend one to two hours writing every morning before I go to work while my brain is fresh and I feel creative. Beginning a daily practice and sticking to it is the fifth step, and probably the most important one.
The only way we can really change our lives is one day at a time.
We have to take steps toward what we desire each day. For me, this means eating well every day. Doing something active every day. Writing every day. Each day that we take steps in the direction of our goals, we get that much closer to making them our reality.
Finally, we have to let go of all the things that limit us, and keep us from what we truly desire. This can be ideas, limiting self-beliefs, relationships, habits, and so on. Anything that hinders our ability to move toward our goal each day needs to be carefully evaluated.
For me, this has meant limiting what I like to call “unnecessary busyness.” That’s all the junk people want you to do that would take time away from what you need to do. I also call this “hermitting with purpose.” Having a busy social life is fun, and friends are important—but, I have precious few hours week to week to create the life I want for myself. If I have to choose between making my dreams happen, or having a full calendar of events, it’s really an easy choice.
When we choose to make a change, we begin actively seeking it, and we put our knowledge into action, we are on our way to greatness. When we begin to see that we are the only ones who can keep us from our goals, we are stepping into our power. When we commit to making little steps toward the life we desire every single day, we become an immovable force.
When we reach this place of positive momentum, we quickly see that the light at the end of the tunnel never was a train—and the only thing that ever bound us was our own self-doubt, fear, and limiting beliefs.
Absolutely anything we choose to achieve in this life is possible. Creating the life we desire begins with making the choice: to stay stuck, or to get busy making our dreams happen.
Author: Renee Dubeau
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Image: lion heart vintage/Flickr