Last week's post discussed lessons I learned in the process of living my dream, as well as those learned in hindsight. All things I would have found instructive had I known them at the beginning of my process. This week's post is about the process of preparing to realize your dream*--what I call the "getting real with yourself" assessment process. Honesty with yourself is crucial at this point to eliminate or limit issues you may face as you progress with your plans. It was during this part of the process that I felt most vulnerable to discouragement but driven to succeed.
It helps to begin by articulating your dream, determining if it's actually your dream or a dream someone else has for you, and then formulating a plan to realize your dream. What is the broad framework of the plan? What are the details? I found significant value in committing my thoughts to writing. Although my initial plan required revision as it began to take form, having it in writing helped me to get organized and visualize where I was headed. Some people like to create vision boards for this purpose.
Writing down your thoughts may also assist in determining what due diligence is necessary. For example, have others done what you want to do? If so, how? What research is necessary to facilitate your plan? What tools or skills are necessary to realize your dream? What is a realistic timeframe, some of the potential challenges, etc? Due diligence is important because it provides perspective on how much work will be required during the planting season--that is, when you begin to actually put your plan into effect. Some people get stuck at this stage due to the magnitude of their goals or dreams. The more they realize what's required they don't know where to begin. If that's the case, I say dream big, start small. While it's inevitable that you'll miss some things along the way, at this point you're just gathering information. Try to avoid taking on too much and becoming overwhelmed.
Finally, it's important to make an honest examination and assessment of your soil (your personal circumstances) to determine its suitability for the planting season. This includes your family situation, your talents and skills, doubts, fears, openness to change, ability and willingness to learn, resilience, influences, finances, commitment to your plan, etc. It's not about perfection. It's about knowing and considering how your circumstances may impact pursuing your dream.
The value of preparing for the planting season is that it gives you clarity on both your plan and your circumstances. It's important to listen and learn during this stage--even from those who may attempt to discourage or influence you. You will have to live with the decision you make, so make the one you are prepared to live with and accept the consequences. This might be a very emotional and time-intensive stage. Find encouragement (learning to encourage yourself is critical), enjoy the journey (don't get so bogged down in the process that you lose your joy and the excitement of your dream), be patient, find or create laughter where you can, and don't underestimate yourself. Be grateful for where you are now, for what you have, the challenges of this process that will help you learn about things, yourself, and others, and know that your journey will likely inspire you and others.
*For purposes of this discussion, when I use the word "dream", I'm including "purpose". For some people, their dream and purpose are the same. For others, they are different.
Ok, here's a little pep talk:
I've been asked a number of times how I realized my dream to live in Paris. Admittedly, I did so under very difficult circumstances--I needed a correct diagnosis of my illness. As a result, I had to skip and/or rush through some steps I would have otherwise taken. But I thought it might be helpful to discuss over the course of a few blog posts what worked for me, and the things I would have done had I had more time, to realize my dream.For me, there were several stages in the process of living my dream:
In this post, I'll address perspective--the lens through which I viewed my dream, and things I learned from the gift of hindsight while living my dream. My experience will differ from others' experiences, so take this for what it's worth to you.
- Preparation for the planting season
- The planting season
- Realization of the dream
- Living the dream
First, I learned that dreams are replete with fantasies of what living the dream will be like. But not all dreams are good; some are nightmares. There's no way to know until you live them. I was fortunate that my dream was a good one, but I had some nightmares along the way.
Second, I learned that not everyone will support your dream. Their lack of support may not be personal, but may be based in their own fears, doubts, or concerns. You must believe in your own dream and have the focus, tenacity, and strength to follow through. You must decide whether to share your dream and plans and, if so, with whom. Sometimes, it's difficult to discern who will and will not provide encouragement and support.
Third, there are many land mines, challenges, and setbacks that may discourage you from pursuing your dream. It's important to be realistic that the road to your dream may have some potholes.Fourth, it may take a great deal of time and effort to realize a dream. Some people just fall into their dream. I wasn't one of those people. It's important to ask for help, if/when possible.Fifth, it's crucial to enjoy the journey involved with living your dream because the journey is sometimes as important as the dream itself.Sixth, living your dream may not bring you joy. While I have had many happy days living my dream, it was my joy that sustained me when living the dream became difficult. If my joy was based on external circumstances rather than my internal state of being, I would have been disappointed. You can't know what living your dream will be like until you get there, and nothing is good all of the time. Joy can help you endure the difficult times.With the same perspective and the gift of hindsight, I wouldn't take a thing for my journey. Everything I experienced on the way to living in Paris and everything I've experienced since living in Paris has been worth it. I have no regrets. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity, I'm grateful, my life is richer for the experience, and I will continue to encourage others to pursue and live their dreams . . . and to live them joyfully.
At this time of the year, many are joyful and super motivated. They have new attitudes, hopes, dreams, goals, and plans, and are ready to put them into action. There are others, however, who are suffering from joystipation. They feel bound, discouraged, and unmotivated. It's not that they don't have goals, hopes, or dreams. Perhaps they don't have the resources to realize them. Or, perhaps their circumstances are such that they don't believe they can realize them--at least not now. Well, if you've explored this website and/or read my blog before, you shouldn't be surprised by what I'm about to say: If you're joystipated, it's time for a movement!Why not get unbound and bloom where you're planted? Don't wait for the circumstances to change. Grow wherever you are now. Absent dire circumstances, I believe we all have the ability to do something. That something may be an alteration of our hopes, plans, or dream(s), or it may take us in a totally different direction. Sometimes it's our circumstances that lead us to our purpose if we are open to a detour in our plan(s). It's important to look for the blessing(s) in our current circumstances, if any, and if we can't find any, to work on creating some to help someone else. Ultimately, we'll be blessed in the process. And then, when/if our circumstances change, we'll be stronger, wiser, and better prepared for the next step.Many of us know people who are blooming where they're planted. Using their circumstances to help others. Focusing on their blessings rather than their circumstances. Defining their circumstances rather than allowing their circumstances to define them. But if you need some additional motivation, check out this video:
*Wish I could take credit for it, but I first heard the concept "bloom where you're planted" at a program in Paris created to help foreigners get acclimated to their new environment.
It's a new year. Many of us begin the year with hope that a new year will hold the promise of better times ahead. This brings to mind a discussion I had with my grandmother years ago about how we often think a change of scenery will make a difference in the status of our lives. That if only we could move, change jobs, mates, circumstances, etc., our lives would improve exponentially. And what she said stuck with me. She said that what people don't seem to understand is that whatever change you make, you take yourself into the new situation. So you better be sure you're not part of the problem. If so, work on changing yourself before changing the situation. There's nothing like a grandparent's wisdom. Thus, as I consider the promise of a new year, I'm assessing what revisions I need to make to ensure I'm not taking the same old me into a new year expecting a change of scenery to equal better times ahead.
How about you?
SOME OF MY WISHES FOR YOU IN 2013:
May you embrace life, live now, dream, live your dream(s) . . . and do all of it joyfully!