In my last three posts: 1. Personal Development: How to Plan to Change Your Life This Year; 2. Warning: Perfectionism Kills Starting a Blog and Your Dreams; and 3. Reclaiming Wonder: The First Step to Changing Your Life, I outlined the first steps to starting your dream.
Since today marks the beginning of the new year, you are probably asking yourself when do I start? Or, how do I know this dream is right for me?
You begin with being certain that what you are about to do is something that brings you joy. If you think about the 5 Stages of Change, this is your pre-contemplation stage, the time spent looking at what it is that you want.
Will what you specifically want to bring you joy?
I am not talking about the “if I make a lot of money at it then money will make me happy” kind of nebulous, general joy. I am talking about the kind of joy that comes from loving something specific — so specific that you will be motivated to get up off the couch this year and do what you need to do to make it come true.
Joy is a great motivator when directed at something specific.
In order to move forward on your dream, the dream needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (it must have a starting point and ending point). Without these parameters, you will float along never really accomplishing anything on your dream.
Your dream will keep changing like you change your clothes, but nothing will ever quite happen that takes you to the finish line where you turn around and say, “My greatest dream has come true.”
You have to love your specific dream so much that you will walk through fire to achieve it. You have to love to do one thing so much that you won’t give up on it when you are feeling bored, fall in love, have children, buy a house, or are just too tired.
You have to know in your heart that you will stick to your one thing until the very end.
For example, if you dream of being a top blogger, you have to sit down and ask yourself what one thing you would love to write about over, and over, and over again (did I say over and over?). You must be absolutely passionate about your subject–maybe friends have been telling you to write about a particular subject and you’ve ignored them. It’s often a sign they see your passion where you don’t.
To be famous at blogging you have to be an expert at one thing, and being an expert requires that you do the same thing over and over so that you get better and better until you are the expert people want to turn to for help. Whether the expert you become is an expert at telling stories about your family, an expert at taking photographs, an expert at product launches, an expert at traveling near your home, or an expert at frugal living–you must be able to write creatively about that one subject over and over.
Think of it as loving your subject so much that you simply must share it until the world is sick of it.
But before you run out and buy that domain name and do all the work involved in creating a top blog, you have to honestly ask yourself if you will post articles on the same subject at least three times a week for the next four (or more) years. Can you show up and write about the same subject over and over for years on end until the world takes notice?
These are the difficult questions we must ask ourselves before we step through the dream door to start our journey.
Can you do this thing you think you want day-in-and-day out until you think you can’t do it one more day … and then do it one more day?
You have to love your dream to the extreme that you will love it even when you hate it. And even when you hate it, you can’t stop doing it, and if you stop doing it then you miss it and have to start doing it again even though you are sick of it.
Are you ready for this?
Best-selling author and social psychologist, Malcolm Gladwell was one of the best middle-distance runners in Canada when he was a teenager. He often tells the story of the moment when he knew he was not going to go to the Olympics like most thought he would.
He went running with two friends who would ultimately go on to compete in the Olympics and at the end of the grueling long-distance run, the two friends suggested that they continue running by going up this particular hill backward. They had already run (I think — it was a very long distance) 20 miles. Malcolm didn’t want to continue, and thus, chose not to. The two friends went on to run up the hill without him and on to compete in the Olympics.
Malcolm did not go to the Olympics and instead turned his attention to social psychology and writing. What he understood about his choice at the hill is that those two friends wanted the Olympics more than he did. He saw that they were more motivated runners because they still wanted to run up that hill. He didn’t. To run in the Olympics was their singular dream, whereas Malcolm had other dreams he liked better that gave him more joy — like writing.
“Really what we mean … when we say that someone is ‘naturally gifted’ is that they practice a lot, that they want to practice a lot, that they like to practice a lot.” ~Malcolm Gladwell
You have to love your dream enough to practice a lot and stick with it. Just think what would have happened if Malcolm’s two friends decided that they loved running, then decided they loved bicycling, then decided they loved swimming and then decided to love mountain climbing. They may have been physically fit, but they would never have competed in the Olympics.
You have to find the ONE thing you love — the ONE thing you can’t stop talking about — the ONE thing that you can’t stop thinking about. This is where your singular dream lies.
If you aren’t sure about your one thing and don’t know what to do, I’ll send you a free copy of my e-workbook, “Find Your Dream“ to help you get in touch with what it is you would really love doing. Just leave me a comment and let me know.
When you sit down to complete your New Year’s resolutions this week, whittle your list down to just one thing. Then promise yourself that you are going to do that one thing until you have achieved success.
And that’s the resolution I’m betting will bring you joy.
Catherine Hughes is the founder of 8 Women Dream. She is passionate about helping women step out of their own way and strike out into a world waiting for their special talents. She’s a published author and a former award-winning mom blogger. Catherine has helped companies both large and small create engaging web content, social media narratives, and unique blogging platforms. She claims to be a redhead but don’t hold that against her.