Are you on a path to reach your dreams?
Some days I feel like I am. Other days I feel like I’m being swept along with the torrent of daily responsibilities and minor amusements, unable to break free of their hold on me. The truth is that nothing has a hold on me. It’s my responsibility to choose my dreams and to do the little things each day that will bring me one step closer them.
When I’m not on the couch surrounded by my macbook, iphone, and ipad, I try very hard to employ the following seven practices to stay on the path to my dreams:
1) Practice gentle patience: I see this as both patience with the process and patience with yourself. It’s hard to be truly patient, especially in a society that rewards and expects speed. We don’t spend much time with our dreams, but we should. We need to see them, listen to them, sit with them, ponder them, nurture them, learn from them…all with gentle patience. If we don’t, who will?
2) Make commitment a habit: Having a true commitment to something is hard. Not having a commitment is an “out,” that I often find myself using. I’ll say things like, “I didn’t like screenwriting that much anyway.” That way I can take it or leave it without much worry. It also hurts less when you’re rejected or challenged. But why choose fear? I’m challenging myself to commit to these dreams and all that comes with that – pain, rejection, fear, joy, excitement, success, failure…
3) Put in the time: Putting in the time, each and every day, is the only way to achieve anything. And I let myself forget it all the time. Part of me wants to be an instant success (see #1), so if there’s so much work involved, I’d just rather watch TV. Part of me is scared to fail, so I won’t do anything at all. Getting past all the excuses that keep you from moving things forward a little bit each day is imperative.
4) Have faith: No one can achieve something great without faith in herself. Of course. But, faith in the universe (for lack of a better word) is imperative as well. We humans think we control our world. With decent precision, we can predict the weather, fly across the globe, and send a person to the moon. We irrationally trust our ability to control the world, but we’ve forgotten about our need to trust the universe. Having faith, to me, means releasing all expectations about where this journey will take me. As my good friend Kriste said — choosing a theme instead of a resolution. Yes! And you’ll more than likely be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
5) Build up a thick skin: I am absolutely terrible at being resilient and persevering through tough times when it comes to my dreams. If things get challenging or complicated, it’s easy for me to give up. Someone doesn’t like my short stories? Fine. I’ll try screenwriting. The process for getting a screenplay in front of potential buyers is too complicated? Ok. I’ll take up knitting. I’ve never made it a habit of fighting for my dreams – but it’s necessary. (Check out this post about Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art for more on this topic). In his screenwriting book, Save the Cat, Blake Synder says that any successful screenwriter needs to be a bullhead. Amen, brother. Anyone who wants to be successful at anything moderately challenging needs to be a bullhead. I’m donning my horns as we speak.
6) Be brave: Enough said.
7) Reflect: We often give this one short shrift, and I must thank Susan for suggesting this one. Taking time to be thoughtful and reflect about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going is incredibly valuable. Someone once told me that each moment changes us. We aren’t the same people today that we were yesterday (or even from one moment to the next). Assessing things through the lens of each new day will help us adjust and tweak our paths as we go.
I’m sure there are many other practices that can help us sustain our dreams. What helps you stay on the path to your dreams?