Now, if you’re the kind of person who reads self improvement posts (and I know you are), and enjoys books like The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, you probably spend at least part of your life striving. What is “striving” exactly? It’s making great efforts to achieve or obtain something; and if you believe there’s more out there for you — a better job, healthier body, true love, or just a tidier house — and you’re serious about change, then you probably know a lot about it. And you’ve probably spent at least some of your time in a challenging land called “Almost There.”
“Almost There” is actually a great place to be. It shows that you’re on the path to your dreams, and you’ve made progress. But man, it gets old — believe me. I’ve been walking the walk and talking the talk for some time now, and while I’ve achieved many things, my big goals still loom on the horizon — tantalizingly close and yet dishearteningly far.
Maybe it’s the same way with your own life. You’ve made plans, many times, to go back to school or get in shape, but somehow it hasn’t quite become a reality. My sister Sarah says “If you’re still trying, you’re still making progress,” and that’s a great point. But how do you keep yourself excited, enthused, and willing to do the hard work that is, and has always been, the foundation of dreams?
Why, you go from “Almost There” to “There” (I’m glad you asked!).
What exactly does “There” look like? I define it as living your dream. What? “Livin’ the dream!” Isn’t that just a fantasy, a wish upon a star, or maybe a sarcastic comeback to a coworker’s inquiry about your day? Not anymore. You can live your dream and you can start today. For me, living the dream is all about ACTION. Planning is great, but acting on a plan is better. Oh, so much better.
Start with a strategy for what you want to achieve. Set a goal, set a deadline, and then work backwards, breaking your goal into yearly, monthly, and weekly goals. You should be able to see what action you can take this week to start on the road to your goals. Even a small beginning like reading up on classes offered, going for three walks this week, or buying some inspirational posters can be the beginning of something great.
Just as important as the actions you take is the light you see them in. You must perceive them as part of the larger whole, as the inception of a process that will end with the achievement of your goal. Picking up a brochure isn’t “planning” — it’s an action. Because next week, you’ll take a tour of the campus, and then you’ll register, and take classes, and get your degree. It all starts this week with a first step, and it ends in the culmination of your dream.
What’s more, you must revel in this place — your dream life — and build upon it every day. Spend a little time figuring out the details of your perfect life/house/body and then start acting out that reality in your ordinary life, in the here and now. Maybe you don’t live in a million dollar home overlooking the Pacific Palisades but can you bring some aspect or feeling of that into your house today? Presumably, your dream house would be neat and clean and clutter-free. Just giving away a bunch of junk you don’t need could be a huge first step toward your perfect abode. You may not be able to buy a Georgia O’Keeffe original, but you could buy a poster or even print out your own 8″ x 10″. The idea is to just act as if your dreams have already come true and you’re living that ideal life.
Of course, your ideal life will be full of hard work, and setbacks, and inconveniences. But that’s kind of what life is about, isn’t it? That’s why we dream the big dreams–to feel, to struggle and strive, to overcome and to achieve greatly?
So make a plan and start living as if you already have that best possible body — part of being “There” would mean that you cared about your health and ate right, and gave yourself time to exercise. Capture the feeling that your perfect house will instill in you and then find inexpensive ways to add things — and more importantly, find the strength to subtract all the items that don’t. Start acting like you’re already being paid for your dream job, and then put in the hours every day to better yourself, improve your work, and find people who love what you do.
Above all, “There” is a mindset, but one that requires a mind like a steel trap. You must latch onto your dream world, your ideal life, and then act accordingly. As Coach Taylor on the show Friday Night Lights said, “Success is not a goal, it’s a byproduct.” Begin to see yourself as the person who is living in that ideal world — you’re strong, dynamic, and oh-so-able. You’re not perfect, but you’re magnificent. This isn’t the destination, but it’s one hell of a origin story.
You did it. You’ve made it. All your plans and dreams and work has brought you to this place. You have struggled long, and maybe you’re tired. But you’re “There.” Because — starting with the actions you take today — you are on the greatest adventure of your life.
You are off to find yourself, and you are going to live out your destiny.
Katherine Cerulean is a writer, dreamer, and doer. Her life's purpose is to share the beauty, magic, joy, and perfection of life with others by creating works of uncommon genius and living a life of bliss. She's the author of several books, including How To Come Alive: A Guidebook To Living the Life of Your Dreams, which is available as a free website.