Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Today I had lunch with Todd, from We the Change. I’ve become friendly with many bloggers but this is the first time I’ve met one in person, since we both live in NYC. We talked about how important it is to both of us to do what we can to help our readers learn to help themselves. We both work on our own and are making our dreams come true. Yet so many people confine dreaming to their beds.

We dream as kids – of meeting Prince Charming, becoming a baseball player, or getting many of the things we see on TV and in movies. As we get older, we still have dreams, but they can seem more like fantasies if we haven’t made any come true. Eventually dreaming stops if it seems futile. Then bitterness or cynicism can dampen or extinguish happiness. I stand as an example that you can live out your dreams if you choose to!

Do you live passively or on purpose? Waiting for things to happen doesn’t help turn dreams into reality. Use your power to live on purpose! What does that mean? Get in touch with what you’d like to do and consciously go after it. The more things you try, the more chances of finding what makes you happy. Achieving what you wish for is very empowering.

I’ve talked about going to Alaska for years. And years. I believe that talking about it like it would definitely happen contributed to my spontaneously making a reservation for summer 2006. I’ve had good excuses for not going in past years. The summer before I was preparing for my national book tour, so no time. The summer before that I waited too long to plan it. And many excuses before that. But because I talked about my dream regularly, it was on the tip of my thoughts when I decided to do something special for me.

I knew that deep down I was nervous about going all the way to Alaska solo. It’s a long trip from NYC. And if I was going that far, I wanted to be there for over 2 weeks, which is a big chunk of time to be away. I could have made excuses for the next 10 or more years but it was on my mind. When I thought about going, I checked availability of flights. I had enough miles to go first class, which eased my concern a bit about the long trip. For 3 nights I searched the Internet for info and tinkered with the idea of going, which I’d done before and chickened out.

Then it hit me. If kept putting it off, I’d never go. So without time for second-guessing or giving into my doubts, I went online and booked my flight. I’m so glad I did! Alaska was an experience of a lifetime! My dream exploded on that trip. I took risks and did things I’d never done. Each fear became a challenge to get past it and do something wonderful. The tourist office was so helpful in guiding me to activities I’d love. I had 18 days in Alaska and they were filled with beauty, adventure and tons of fun—fun—fun. And fantastic people!

I took my first big risk with a whole day of kayaking. Why a risk? I went to Blackstone Bay with Alaska Sea Kayakers, 45 minutes by cruiser to where we began, so I couldn’t go back if I didn’t like it. I was also a tad concerned about feeling queasy on the boat. I considered skipping this excursion but decided I came to Alaska to experience its beauty and adventure. So I went. Kayaking around glaciers was the best day I had in that region – a shining example of why it’s great to overcome fear!

Another risk was when I took a bush plane to a highlight of my trip – Denali Wilderness Lodge. I was nervous about flying on that tiny plane for 40 minutes. But again I knew I HAD TO do it. HAD TO! It was so much fun. No queasiness. Just extraordinary views of trees and mountains. I felt like part of Sean and Lucy Crotty’s (owners) family. I experienced being on a small plane again on the return trip of a fly/drive trip after crossing the Arctic Circle in a tour van that took us up north along the Alaskan pipeline with Arctic Circle Fly/Drive Adventure. It rounded out my joy of facing fears.

Fear makes you cop out of doing what you’d like – leaving dreams in your bed. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Often, the worst that will happen is you may have to wait for what you want, or change direction. And let’s not be instant gratification pigs here. Take small steps toward something new and you can reach it.

* Dare to dream. Create a wish list with realistic dreams, but don’t limit yourself. Realistic wishes are ones that are possible, even if you don’t believe they are for you: a vacation in Fiji, a new car, a terrific new career, getting a degree. I used to ponder great things I yearned to do, as I’d fall asleep, but talk myself out of them the next morning. Why not have the reality too?

* Write down something specific you want to go after. If you can’t do it with pen and paper, you can’t really visualize it. Elaborate on your excitement, and include why you want it and how you’d feel about receiving. Read it often to inspire you.

* Find good teachers to help you nurture yourself and your dreams. You may need new skills or a mentor to achieve them. When you have a good support system, it’s easier. You can learn how to create a heavenly reality!

* Surround yourself with positive people. It’s easier to pursue dreams when friends are cheering you on or will listen when you’re frustrated. Ditch the naysayers when possible. It’s harder to go forward when you waste energy defending what you want to do to them or lose momentum because they doubt you. Friends who believe in you help you to believe.

* Plan it all out first. Whatever it is that you want to do – figure out all the steps needed to chart your course. Then take it one small step at a time. There’s no rush, as long as you do something. And creating plans is doing something too! Recognize all progress.

* Try a much smaller version of your dream first. If you want to write a book, write a short story or article for practice. I made many less daunting trips solo before I took on Alaska. Test the water before diving in, one toe at a time. It gives you a taste of your ultimate goals and allows you to develop more confidence to go for the big one.

* Write down problems as they arise, but choose specific times to think about them. Get into something comfy, sit in a cozy spot, sip wine or tea, and list every possible solution to each problem. It helps organize fears and actions to help you to feel more in control. Try to only ponder them during the allotted times so you’re not walking around worrying about what you might not be able to do.

* Be spiritually patient. When your faith is strong, you can trust that when the time is right you’ll find ways to move forward. I told people for years that I was going to Alaska and got brochures 4 years earlier. It allowed me to slowly budget and figure out details. I kept putting it out so when the time was right, I was ready. If you can put your dream into God’s hands, you’ll get sup
port when it’s time for fruition. When I was ready to make my trip, it all fell into place.

* Get into the habit of applauding yourself for each bit of progress in your attitude and actions. Did you locate your resume to rewrite it? Yeah! Call a tourist office for brochures on travel there? Hurray! Start going out more with friends because you know you’re in a good place in your life for meeting a romantic partner? Good for you! Gather info on the Internet for relocating to a city you may enjoy more? Great! You don’t have to reach the final goal to cheer yourself on. Taking a positive step is reason enough to pat yourself on the back and feel good that you’ve done something for you.

Don’t avoid what produces stress if it’s necessary to move your vision forward. The biggest deterrent is fear of the unknown. You may want to do something but don’t know if you’ll get a negative response or it won’t work out. Do something even when it scares you. At the same time, know that procrastinating is normal when fear makes you find excuses to put dreams off. Forgive yourself for it. Just don’t lose your desire to make it your reality! Stay on a mental track until you’re strong enough to take the next step.

We’re all capable of making dreams come true. Don’t wait until you feel too old to go after them. It’s your choice: continue being a dreamer or become someone with a purpose. Often dreams don’t get fulfilled because of unworthy feelings, fear of trying, or concern with what others will think. Is disapproval worse than sitting home unhappy, brooding over why others get goodies and you don’t? I’ve made many dreams come true. It’s such fun and so empowering! And when you realize a dream, don’t forget to keep on dreaming. I can’t wait to make my next dream come live! For more motivation, you can read my blog about my trip to Alaska at Solo Chick Alaska.

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