Follow Your Dreams
My daughter gave me a necklace for Christmas. It’s a pretty, simple, elegant silver ring with the words Follow Your Dreams etched into it. I love it. My girl knows her momma. Knows that I’ve been itching for more, but too afraid to go after the things that I really want. Always coming up with excuses or finding what seemed to be legitimate reasons for why I couldn’t do certain things. I would let the wrong people influence me so I would catch myself giving up or procrastinating. This thoughtful gift gave me permission to go find the “more” I am so desperately needing. So, more than the esthetics, I’ve decided to take the advice of the jewelry and my girl. 2014 will bring on a different set of resolutions for me. Instead of following my usual routine that helps me get through the year, I’m going to focus on things that I think are going to make me happy.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to dive off the deep end, but this year I’m going to add goals that specifically will get me closer to my dreams. If the goal doesn’t get me closer to where I eventually want to be, then it gets put off lower down the list.
Which leaves me to decide what my real dreams are and create a break-down list of things I need to do to get me there.
The dreams, they have to be realistic. They can be big, fantastic even, but they must be reachable. Most of my “dreams” have been put on my long-term goal list. Meaning something that I could eventually reach, but I’m not in any real hurry to get there. And every once in a while, I’d work on them. But this year, I’m switching things up. I’ve decided to pull a couple of my smaller dreams, ones that could actually be reached in twelve months, and bring them into focus. They are the ones I’m going after this year.
The break down. My usual goals, which have become habitual, like setting money away for savings, or paying down debt, simplifying life, those are still in place. Every year, I try to add new goals to always help me continue to grow and become the Elizabeth 2.0 version. This year will be no different, just more focused.
You can do it too. We can compare notes!
What are your dreams? Are there a couple that could be reached in a year if you concentrate specifically on them? What do you need to learn to get you closer? Are there any books, courses or college you need that will benefit you? Do you need to start setting aside money for your dream to come true? How much? How much can you afford to set aside each week? What time adjustments to do you have to make to work on these goals? Do you have a support team in place? If not, who could you ask to encourage you? Who could you call on to help you? Think of people that could mentor you, support you, teach you, fuel you. Can you handle the naysayers that ARE going to come at you? Create your timeline of how long and when things need to be implemented on your plan. Break things down to where they are comfortable and reachable for you. If you try to take to big of bites, you’re more likely to get intimidated and give up. (Trust me on this...) Plus, the smaller completions, the more you have to celebrate! And you’ll look forward to the little successes almost as much as the big one.
It’s a new year. Time to wipe the slate clean and make 2014 the year you want. Make it the year that when you look back on it from 2015, you’ll be proud. And you’ll have grown as a person and your self-confidence has gotten bigger: stronger making your future options better and better.
I’m excited at the possibilities of 2014. I am excited to seem my dreams come a little closer. I’m excited to hear what you are doing to make your dreams come true.
It’s 2014, y’all. Follow your dreams!!
Regret- verb: to feel sad, repentant or disappointed over something that has happened or has been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity.
No one makes it through life without regrets. Some can be minor and only bring a minor sting upon its remembrance, but others can feel like a heavy burden being drug around which can effect your present attitude and happiness in your future.
Many regrets come from decisions that we've made that we wish we hadn't but it seems the most painful regrets are the ones in which we chose NOT to do something. We opted to take a safer, risk-free route instead of stepping out of our comfort zone and seeing what would happen.
Let's look first at what we can do with the regrets that we still have hanging around our neck.
-Face your regrets. Really take a moment to look at them. Why is it classified as a regret? Was it a choice you made? Was it something that was out of your control? Something someone else did? Pull all those painful, embarrassing, angry emotions up to the surface.
- Take responsibility for your part. Avoid blaming others when you know ultimately we are rarely ever guilt-free.
-Forgive. Forgive yourself. Forgive anyone else that was involved. Your past is your past. Forgiveness is going to take away those heavy feelings and begin the healing process, which in turn lets you let go.
-Grieve. Now's the time to get all those emotions out and let them go. Sadness, anger, guilt, embarrassment... let them go.
-Learn from them. Let every experience be a learning experience. Don't make the same mistake twice.
"I made decisions that I regret, and took them as a learning experiences... I'm human, not perfect, like anybody else."
- Queen Latifah
And now, on to preventing those regrets of I wish I would have...
-Suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of regret. All growth begins at the end of your comfort zone. Take a risk. You'll never know if you don't try. The hardest part is taking the first step.
-It's better to have a lifetime of experiences and mistakes that helped you grow and hone your skills, rather than an empty lonely heart and a past of empty, un-fulfilled dreams.
-Don't let your past regret dominate your future goals. Reach for your dreams. You may fall short and you may even fail, but you'll never have to say, "I wish I had..." Go after your dreams and don't let anyone discourage you. Listen politely to others. Take the advice you can use, discard the rest. The final decision is yours. You will have no one else to blame if you don't take the chance.
-It's not too late. Start today. You are on the cusp of a brand new year. Take this opportunity to jot down a few goals or just some things you want to concentrate on for the new year. How do you want to improve your mind? Job? Relationships? Finances? How will you choose to give back to others? What new things are you excited about learning? What do you have to do to get started? Take that first step.
"Get correct views of life and learn to see the world in its true light. It will enable you to live pleasantly, to do good and when summoned away, to leave without regret."
-Robert E. Lee
The past is a memory. You don't live there anymore. The future is an anticipated thought. All we truly have is this moment. We keep forgetting that because we always look to the future for our happiness and it never gets here. It's always in the future. Pay attention to today. Don't let your life happen without you. Don't look back, into your past, into your memories, and see too many regrets.
Start making your list now, and start on the prep work in between all the holiday shopping, baking, and visiting so you'll be ready when the new year hits and you'll be able to hit the ground running!
Share your progress with me! Get an accountability partner! Get ready to launch an all new no regrets kind of year!!
When in Doubt, Take the Next Small Step
I was never a big fan of setting goals. To me it was a way to measure my failures. If I never reached them, it wouldn't matter because I never made them! What a surprise it was that I'd stayed in the same exact spot for so many years without moving forward an inch. Once I figured out that goals were my ticket to something, anything... everything else, they became a part of my regular routine.
My problem with goals is I would have all these grand ideas, (I never do anything small!) and then would have no idea how to accomplish them. So in my mind, I failed right out of the gate. And let's not forget the mentality I had, of needing it RIGHT NOW!! So, indeed, I was setting myself up for failure. These grand and truly wonderful plans I had, never made it off the paper because I wasn't patient enough to take the smaller steps it took to make them happen.
I have since learned that a large goal is simply made up of many, many smaller goals or steps. Sometimes we don't know how we are going to get to where we are going, but we have to get started to find out. Such is life.
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
You may not know where you are going to end up, but you have to take that first step in order to find out. God is pretty clever that way. He let's you see the big picture (that goal of where you want to go or what you want to be or just what you want next) but He wants you to rely on Him for the smaller steps of the journey along the way. He only lights your path as far as you can see, so we are never in complete darkness, because by the time you've taken that "last" step, the next one is presented to you. It's like looking down an avenue of streetlights. Each one illuminating their own little circle, but you can only see so far ahead of you. You must start walking in the circles of light to see where the street takes you.
Imagine you're in one of those motion sensor tunnels, like in a James Bond movie. As you're walking down a completely dark and scary hallway, the sensor picks up your presence, and it lights a few more steps for you. As the light comes on and the immediate surroundings are illuminated, they are not quite as scary. We are not meant to know every single step of the journey. It is a learning process. Work ahead as far as you can and then have faith that when you get there, the next instructions will be there waiting.
It actually all happens so smoothly that you never realize you were ever in the dark at all. When you look back at all of your steps, they were placed in just the right order. You learned all the things you needed to know to get to the next step. Eventually, as you look back, your starting steps are all but a memory. That first building you came out of into the darkness, was actually your first point of light.
And when those times come that you stumble or fall, get back up, brush yourself off and take that next step. The first steps are always the scariest. I have a friend that always told me that God IS there and He WILL steer the boat, but you have to get it out to sea first. He can do nothing with it still tied to the dock. This taught me that I can't wait for things to get "just right" or sometimes all the ducks refuse to get in a row until you wrangle the first couple. But trust. Have faith. Untie the boat and make those first few strokes to get it out into open water. See all the wonderful things He can do if you let Him light your path.
Make those goals. Break them down and see how many steps you can work on until you reach the edge of the light. And then, take one more step and watch the light in the darkness stretch out before you.
Get up when you stumble. And when in doubt, just take the next small step and see what happens!
Your word is the lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105
What new goals are you tackling? How have you overcome your fears to "take the next step"? What other advice can you give to those who might be stuck?
We all have things in life that we want. We think, "Oh, if I can just get that one thing, then I'll be happy!" If I could just lose 50 pounds, buy that house, run that race, see the Mayan ruins, quit smoking... The list is never ending. And it should be. Because if you are not constantly striving for something, you're life will become stagnant. And who wants that?
There is a difference between contentedness and stagnant. Content is being satisfied with your life and how it is progressing. Being happy in the still moments. Stagnant is when you have given up on your dreams and are just making your way from day to day doing the necessary things that have to be done to survive. Wishing that things could be different but knowing that they won't. See? Doesn't that sound boring and depressing? We don't want that.
So, on that note, what are you striving for today? And what are the things you are doing to get there? I am proud of you for reaching.
Happiness is a moving target. Don't wait to reach those BIG items to enjoy happiness. The truth is, the things that made us happy before might not make us happy now. Don't wait, putting all your happiness in one basket so that if you never lose that fifty pounds or buy that house you will feel like a failure or feel you don't deserve to be happy. Stop and smell the daffodils! There is happiness to be found all around us. Don't wait! It will make your journey toward your bigger goals so much better and you'll be able to keep rolling through those rough spots a little easier when you focus on the big picture. Celebrate as you go.
I always encourage people to have several goals. Long term, short term and daily goals. Mix it up! Add to your list! Find new things that excite you and make you want to go after them. Remove the ones that when you look at them you're like, "What was I thinking?" Check your goal list often and make sure you are still working toward happiness. Perhaps you have been working on something so long and you've forgotten why you're pursuing it. Or maybe you have reached your goal and it no longer fulfills you. Find your happiness. Don't just sit on the couch and wish for it.
Cliff Notes: When you reach your goals, even the small ones, celebrate. And while you're on the road to reaching said goals, find happiness along the way. Life is more than the destination. It's about all the little stops along the way too.