Monday, January 7, 2013

Life Lessons for My Children: Dreams are Great, But Action Rules

I'm a dreamer and always have been. I'm talking about full-on 'I could get famous doing this' type stuff. I've also always been a pro-level procrastinator, and I have let fear stop me from accepting some amazing opportunities.

If this handicap defined a club, it would be a pretty big club. It starts in childhood, when we all realize we want to be just like our childhood heroes - most of whom are not exactly heroic by any definition. Quiz a classroom full of grade schoolers about what they want to be when they grow up, and chances are you're going hear answers like doctor, lawyer, professional athlete, actress, vet, chemist, and artist rather than middle manager, cell phone salesperson, waiter, accountant, or even programmer.

Most of us end up with the latter kind of life, and that's fine. I'm certainly not unique in sabotaging myself, and following big dreams can mean following a long, difficult road. Plus, most of us eventually come to the conclusion that there's nothing wrong with the sweet, simple life. 

Still, those big dreams linger. Maybe in different form or maybe exactly as once dreamed. Some of us finally do something about it. Taking beginner ballet in mid-life. Buying a canvas and some paints after not having touched a brush in a decade. Writing that book. This guy graduated from med school at 48. This guy got his pilot's license at 87. Point being, if you're harboring those big dreams, what's stopping you?

Dreams are just smoke without follow-through. At any age and any phase of life.

One thing I want to impress upon my children is that it's never wrong to have monumental life goals. Dream of becoming an actor or a rock star or a scientist or an astronaut! But know what those dreams require of a person.

Know what dreams really mean in practice, beyond fame and fortune and prestige. Understand that doing something amazing requires more than hanging around with a pout on your face until you get "discovered." There are concrete steps a person can take to achieve almost anything. What are they? Find out, then focus on Step 1. Big dreams can take years to achieve - and sometimes the realization of dreams requires great sacrifice.

Don't be afraid of that sacrifice, whether it means giving up a few evenings a week to practice Italian or giving up a steady job to start a business or giving up years to gain the expertise necessary to become an instrument of change. Practice, practice, practice. And then know that there are so many more ways to realize a dream beyond what we see in the media.

No matter what, though, you must act. Action makes dreams come alive; waiting is the death of dreams.

Here's my challenge for everyone reading this:

Let's make 2013 a year for DOING, even if it means falling flat on our faces. What have you always dreamed of achieving but never felt capable of trying? I'm ready; are you?

how to achieve dreams

10 comments:

  1. Stopping by from SITS. This is delicious. I was going to make my 15 yo read it, then I decided it was just for me. Thanks.

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    1. Thank you! But I bet your 15 year old could benefit - I sure do wish someone had shared this with 15-year-old me.

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  2. I want my kids to think that way too- to dream big. And I need to do that, too.

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  3. I almost never dream big anymore, but I really need to try to remember to more often. My kids do, though, and watching them dream big and work towards achieving their goals is rewarding enough for me :)

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  4. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. Off to share on Twitter RIGHT NOW! It is fantastic. I agree with every single thing you wrote...I am that kind of dreamer, too! :) Stopping by from SITS.

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  5. Fear holds many people back - fear of the unknown. But I think regret is much worse!

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  6. This is the kick in the butt I needed. I will publish my cookbook this year. No ifs, ands, or buts!

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