Why do we put off those things we want most in life? Why do we let excuses stand in the way of pursuing our dreams? In this week long series we’ll dive into these questions, deliver actionable steps for common obstacles, and provide resources to help you take the first step to making your dreams a reality.
“you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” – John Lennon, Imagine
We know you are a dreamer. You are here you have dreams, big and small, which occupy your thoughts through the day and possibly entertain you while you sleep. Dreams that have been with you since you saw your first drum set at age 10. Dreams built out of your love of baking pies and a vision of your very own pie shop. A dream to open a studio that was born the first time you saw the painting of your closest friend who lacked the space to showcase and sell her art. You have visions of feats and accomplishments that set your eyes to sparkle each time you share the vision with others.
When you are ready, or when anyone is within earshot, you speak those 4 magical words:
“I’ve always wanted to…”
When your friends and fellow dreamers hear this phrase we know we’re about to hear a bit about your passion, what drives you as a person, and gives us an opportunity to connect with you in a very meaningful way. Dreamers love to hear about other people’s dreams because it means we have the chance to help you achieve them. Before you’ve even finished the statement our minds are racing for ways we can help you reach achieve your vision.
- Don’t I recall a friend saying they need a drummer for a band their putting together?
- I would be delighted to volunteer my well-honed services as a pie taster to support your dream.
- I have a friend who owns a sculpture studio who I know would love to chat with you about her experience so you can learn more.
As fellow dreamers we can see you accomplishing your goal in our mind’s eye while you share why it means so much to you and how it came to be. We envision the day your dream comes true for you and start to get excited.
“BUT”, the word that changes everything
There is a tiny, 3 letter word that brings all this Kumbaya bonding to a screeching halt – “BUT.” Nothing brings us all back from the brink of happiness faster than to hear the words that comes next.
- I’ve always wanted to play drums in a band, but I am scared to perform in public
- I’ve always wanted to be a pie maker, but I don’t have the time to work on it
- I’ve always wanted to open my own studio, but I don’t have the money
And there it is, the thing that is standing between you and what you’ve always wanted to do in life. The excuse that separates you from following your dream. The barrier that will keep you a dreamer and not a doer for another day.
Dreams are Easy. Action is Hard.
As you may have found, having a dream is relatively easy. You’re a dreamer after all. You create a list of things you’ve always wanted to accomplish, from tiny to life-changing and then compile a complimentary set of excuses for why you cannot achieve each of these. Of course, it is never this methodical. These reasons become background noise and likely knee-jerk reactions for why you are not making progress.
Why is the step between dream and action such a problem? What is keeping you from making your dream a reality? Taking action on your goal is what separates dreamers from doers.
3 Reasons We Don’t Take Action on our Dreams
There are 3 root causes for why we identify excuses for not going after our dream. Fear, desire, and priorities. Each can be a powerful influence on our lives and what we will accomplish. By identify what the root cause which is keeping you from obtaining that which “you’ve always wanted to do…” we hope you can overcome the objections and take that first step to making it come true.
It is quite possible that the idea of going after your dream is so terrifying that the idea of taking even the first step is simply too much to consider. Instead, you find it easier to keep the dream pure than to find out you cannot achieve it.
This is a feeling we all know at some point. Occasionally we add things to our dream list that scare the shit out of us. For me, it was rock climbing. For the last several years I’ve wanted to go rock climbing at least once. Part of the reason was to feel the excitement that so many others get to experience, while part of it was to finally confront one of my greatest fears – heights. However, I never really did anything to make this dream a reality when the barrier to accomplishment was extremely low. We lived in a city with numerous rock climbing walls. I had several friends who know how to do it, had the equipment, and would gladly have accompanied me. Plus, the investment of time and money would be extremely low. In truth the only thing that help me back was the utter terror in my stomach at the thought of clinging to the a rock wall with an immense (note, anything more than 2 meters equals immense to me) uninterrupted space between me and the ground. For years I let fear be a barrier to something I wanted to accomplish.
Finally, earlier this year a friend in Thailand called me on the carpet, agreed to be my support, and helped me remember why I had this on my list at all. His nudge caused me to ask the hard question,
Is this really important to me or should I remove it from my list?
Answering that question is the key to resolving the conflict you face each time you confront your big, bad, scary dream. Do you see yourself able to overcome the fear or is the dream not obtainable? If you are going to keep it on your list, what small steps are you willing to take right now to make it a reality? Otherwise, you are not being fair to yourself, and keeping a dream you can achieve from ever getting on your list.
You Don’t Want it That Much
There are times, when we are really being honest with ourselves, that we look a dream and can say “I don’t really want this.” Instead we find that we want to be the type of person who wants to achieve it, but the idea of actually accomplishing the dream is far less appealing. Maybe the idea of travel is more interesting than the realities. However, since you love the idea of being a traveler you’ve adopted this as your default dream anytime someone asks.
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Like with so many aspects of our lives, our dreams are not immune to peer pressure. You want people to view you as a traveler, when your true dream is to drive a race car. You feel more comfortable telling others, and ultimately ourselves, that our own dream is not interesting or may not fit with people’s perceptions of us. As a result you twist our deepest desires to fit some arbitrary mold of us.
Give yourself permission to follow your own dreams, not those others may expect of you. Go for what is in your heart, not what you think others project upon you. This is your life and you owe it to yourself to be honest with what you want to achieve in this life.
You Don’t Want to Give Anything Up
Of all the reasons we create excuses and put up obstacles to obtaining our goals, this seems to be at the root of most. We hear it over and over again. You love the life you have and cannot imagine giving anything up to make your dream come true. What is most surprising is that people seem unaware that this conflict exists.
Betsy and I hear this so often that we can see the symptoms coming from a mile a way. We hear the excuse and then ask a simple follow up question:
- I don’t have the money – “Where are you spending money now that doesn’t fit your dream?”
- I don’t have the time – “How are you spending your time instead of chasing your dream?”
- I don’t know how to get started – “Who have you reached out to in order to help you?”
If your answer to each of these is that you are not prioritizing your dream then you are making a decision that your current life is more important than your dream. This is certainly not a bad thing but understanding that you are making a decision, actively or not, can help you realize why your dream is no closer to reality today than they day you envisioned it.
Dreams will require sacrifice in terms of time, money, and/or the lifestyle you have today. If you are going to travel the world, you will no longer be able to spend time with your family every weekend. If you are going to buy a home you will likely need to cut back on your discretionary spending. Analyzing your current lifestyle will help you to determine how important your dream is to you at this time and what you are doing to make it a reality. Taking the steps to align your actions and lifestyle today that will help you achieve your dream will be the first big step toward eliminating the excuses and achieving your goal.
Take the first step towards your big dream by joining the Married with Luggage Life Lab. Each week we’ll share with you advice and suggestions to creating your best life.
Get ready to go from knowing what you need to do to reach your goal to actually having the motivation to do it.