I see her all the time. She resounds in my mind when I feel inadequate, weak, inapt. She exudes positivity; is passionate about even the simplest aspects of life. She’s dependable, charming, motivated. She takes care of herself in the morning, spends her days working towards a job she adores and her nights surrounded by people she loves.
She’s not real, of course, at least not in the traditional sense. I’ve probably invented her a thousands times over. She’s the nameless entity I’ve created in my mind that I strive to become every, single day. She is unique to us all, the image of what we want to see in our own reflections. Physically, maybe, but it goes deeper than that. We want our mirror images to show us something better than our status quo, each of us formulating particular milestones we need to hit to get there.
Whether it’s to be the marathoner, the successful journalist, or the adventurous traveler, we have dreams that we’ve filed away in the back corners of our minds labeled Maybe Someday. Our desperate longing for stability and comfort inhibits us from going after what we truly want, regardless of what the rewards of doing so may be. But this is the moment you can change that. As they say, if you’re waiting for a sign, this is it. Here’s how to turn into the person you haven’t had the courage to become, while still loving yourself in the process.
Make a List
Not only will it help you keep track of what you truly long for, it will also tell you the difference between a fleeting dream and an actual life-changing goal. If running a half marathon has been on your list for over a year and you haven’t felt the need to erase it, you better get those sneakers tied up. Wanting something long enough isn’t going to make it happen, it’ll only be a steady reminder of what you’ve been putting off. Once you know it’s an honest desire, actively begin taking the steps to get there.
The Decision Has Already Been Made
If you can’t possibly imagine living the way you are now for another year, then there’s nothing else you need to decide. It’s no longer could you change your life, but when will you do it. You need to re-evaluate your priorities and realize that sacrifices are a part of the process. You will have to give up your comfortable salary and deal with living paycheck to paycheck to work freelance at your dream job, but the time in turmoil is worth going after a passionate and fulfilling career. If staying stagnant is unbearable, then you’re no longer waiting to make decisions…you’re just delaying a necessary course of action.
A Journey Begins With A Single..
Job application. Gym membership. Plane ticket. Think of your journey by the baby steps you need to take to get there. Breaking it down piece by piece will make it more manageable. You’ll feel more triumphant when you accomplish the little things rather than viewing it as one giant leap of faith. It’ll boost your own confidence knowing that if you could do that one tiny part, then you could certainly make it one step further. You don’t always need to know where the entire trail will take you, you just have to be sure of the direction you’re going in. If one small change is stopping you from moving forward, then you need to go back to step one and reconsider.
The Grass Is Greener
In the Instagram pictures. Be sure and clear of what you want, enough so that you’re willing to defend yourself should you be put in that position. Keep in mind that you often only see the glamorized side of what you think will make you happy. That 1970s Rise Valencia filter can make anything look dreamy. (Oooo volunteering abroad would be so beautiful and adventurous!) Keep in mind you’d have to give up your convenient lifestyle, your clean water, your friends, your Sunday morning Vinyasa flow class…Is it worth the sacrifices? Only when you’re positive you can give up your current routine to pursue this dream should you invest in your extra large rolling duffle. A pro/con list never hurt anyone.
Recognize What’s Holding You Back
Fear? Doubt? Other people? You know what’s even scarier than failing? Knowing that you will never succeed if you don’t put something up at risk. It may take a serious amount of time to work towards your goal, but this time in going to pass anyways so you might as well have your heart invested in it. If other’s disagree with your choices, let them know they can step off this ride at their earliest convenience. This is your decision, consequences included. Other’s approval is unnecessary, it will only cause you to fall into a dark hole of trying to live up to others’ expectations.
Tattoo It On Your Wrist
Literally, no. But when the times get rough, which they undoubtedly will, keep a mantra close at hand to get you through it. A post-it in your wallet, a phrase written across your mirror, anything to remind you that setbacks are merely reminders that you’ve committed to putting in the work. The pledge you’ve made to yourself is stronger than the temptation to quit will ever be. Besides, battle scars are always worth showing off and will serve you well once you’ve accomplished what you set out to do, proving that you have the strength to go further than you could have ever anticipated.
What You Have Is Enough
Excuses have a beautifully unexpected way of convincing us that we are incapable as we are. There will be chaos involved, it shows that you’ve made a significant decision (Keep it up!). Don’t fall into the trap that you need to spend your time preparing for it, you are more than ready if you’ve made it this far. It doesn’t matter if your calendar doesn’t allow it, or your parents try to deter you, your dedication and drive can overcome all of that. If you’re waiting for the perfect moment, it will never come. You make it work by adjusting your schedule, surrounding yourself with supportive company and dropping any dead weight. The hurdles you face are just a welcoming indication that you want this enough to rise above them.
Happiness Isn’t a Be-All End-All
As much as we are all in the everlasting search for complete contentment, it’s not possible. Your extraordinary career will still have its ups and downs, your ideal relationship will still have disagreements, and there will forever be instances when you miss your connecting flight. If you’re looking for perfection, you need to realign your strategy. Remember, you are working towards a dream that is made up of high points to celebrate and low points to learn from, both equally necessary. The triumphs will make you the positive and confident person you want to be while the struggles will give you the resiliency to strive for more, both only existing when paired with the other.
This is a course of action to improve upon yourself rather than trying to emulate someone else. If you align you dreams with what you know is right for you, relentless commitment while sidestepping your doubts will get you to where you want to be. Repeat as necessary.