All too often, we have dreams and goals for our lives, but we end up letting them slip away. We want to see positive change and live our best lives, but even still, there are countless stories of projects started but never completed or gym memberships paid for but never utilized. It’s easy to let life or our fears get in the way of following through with our goals.
For those of you that have dreams of your own that you want to see come to life, here are a few ideas on how you can start to dream big and make them become your reality.
1. Visualize the life you want
By visualizing, I don’t mean just creating a list of goals like losing 20 pounds, traveling to Europe, or writing a book. That won’t cut it. You have to imagine scenes of the future you want to create as if it were a movie. Imagine how strong, sexy and powerful you’ll feel having lost the weight. Or visualize yourself being in the creative zone, writing your latest book from a cafe in Venice, Italy.
For example, one of my goals was to get into Praxis, a professional development program. I was so afraid because even if I got in, I didn’t have the money—not even for the first tuition payment. However, instead of focusing on that and talking myself out of it, I focused on how happy I’d be when I got accepted and how much I’d grow personally and professionally through the experience. Not long after I started to focus on what I wanted, I got into the program and money became a nonissue. Job opportunities opened up for me and I was able to save up and earn my tuition and more in less than a year.
Start to visualize scenes of how you want your life to look and feel in the future, whether that’s in five weeks, five months or five years. Do this every day. Visualization is not something you do once a year like a New Year’s resolution. Constantly remind yourself of your dreams and the life you’re working towards.
2. Realize that fear is your friend
As you come up with these dreams, you probably will face some resistance. You may hear your inner critic tell you you’re not good enough to achieve that dream or that it’s never going to happen. This sucks, but it’s completely normal. However, you have to learn to take control of your thoughts. Don’t downplay your dreams or let fear stop you from trying to achieve them.
Fear can be an indication that something is especially important for you to do. I think that’s why so many people are afraid of things like public speaking. They don’t yet realize that their voice matters and they deserve to be heard.
So don’t run away from that fear, run towards it. Get used to being afraid or uncomfortable. Even when you feel afraid, if a certain dream or goal is on your heart, trust that it’s there for a reason. You owe it to yourself to try.
3. Prioritize your dreams
Start to make consistent progress toward your dreams by prioritizing them. Say yes to things that will get you closer to your end goal and no to things that will pull you away from it. This might mean saying no to going out with friends in order to save money or to have time to work on a project.
Sometimes, In order to get you to your goals, you’ll have to prioritize skill-building over having stability. When you’re so new in the game, it’s important to gain experience to prove to yourself and others that you have what it takes. So if you want a great career, you might have to first be willing to go pro bono, become an intern, or take on low paying work.
Although you could hop on Instagram or watch one more episode of your favorite TV show, you have to learn to focus on what matters most to you and not allow yourself to become distracted. Be prepared to let go of things that aren’t important to you in order to open yourself up to receive the things that are.
4. Build your network
Don’t be precious with your ideas and keep them all to yourself — put yourself out there. Tell people about the goal(s) you’re working towards. You never know who can help you along your journey. Surround yourself with people who will encourage and support you as you grow. This could be emotional support from friends and family, but it’s also important that you link up with people who are on the same path as you.
Who are some of the best in the field you’re interested in? Create a list of people you’d like to know or have on speed dial. Actively build your network both online and in-person to connect with people who are further along on their journey than you are.
Find ways to learn from the experts by reading books, joining a local Meetup group, or by finding a mentor or an accountability partner. You could even find someone who is doing the thing you want to do and offer to take them out for coffee. Always stay on the lookout for ways you can help them because in doing so you not only gain experience, but you make yourself a valuable asset to them.
5. Go make it happen
Most people will wait for all the stars to perfectly align before they’ll make moves to achieve their dreams, but you have to stop waiting and just do something.
Life is messy. There likely will always be something in your life that will try to distract you or make attaining your goals seem more difficult. The question is, are you going to let that stop you?
Choose to take bold action to make your dreams happen. Even if all you can manage is a baby step, you’re already ahead of everyone else who hasn’t even started.
So, If you want to be a writer, write!
If you want to be a filmmaker, just start filming something every day.
Take small but consistent steps to work on your craft and make your dreams a reality.
As long as you constantly visualize the life you want and take steps to work towards getting there, there’s nothing that can stop you.