“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.” - Gail Devers
This past week (February 22) marked the one year anniversary of our e-book’s launch. Over the past year, Simplify. 7 Guiding Principles to Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life has sold over 2,600 copies and it continues to sell every single day. Its launch was truly a life-changing experience.
And it continues to be the evidence of a dream fulfilled.
For nearly 35 years of my life, I wanted to write a book… to be an author. Selfishly, I wanted the pride that I associated with having my name written on a book’s cover. Unselfishly, I wanted to provide valuable inspiration to others… in a form that could far outlive me.
And given the fact that I wanted to write a book that people actually read, Simplify has indeed become the tangible realization of a lifelong dream. Actually, this past year has been defined by the fulfillment of a number of lifelong dreams:
- Dream: Spend more time with my family. Accomplished by finding minimalism.
- Dream: Write a book. Accomplished in February, 2010. Again in August, 2010.
- Dream: Run a marathon. Finished in May, 2010. Time: 4:31.
- Dream: Save Financial Emergency Fund: Accomplished in November, 2010.
I’ve discovered over the past year that dreams come in all shapes and sizes. But their fulfillment is almost always found in the same 7 steps…
1. Select a dream to fulfill. Some of us have so many dreams swirling in our minds, we don’t know where to start… while others of us are unable to put our finger on even one. Whether the decision be to write a book, run a marathon, buy a home, or find true love, fulfillment always starts with the intentional identification of one single goal and the heartfelt conviction to accomplish it. Take some time. Pick one. And then, set out to accomplish it.
2. Believe it is achievable. Unfortunately, too many people will never accomplish their dreams because they simply refuse to believe in themselves. Optimism is absolutely required for dream fulfillment and life enjoyment. If you don’t have natural self-confidence, make finding it your first dream to accomplish. I suggest, “How to Believe in Yourself: A Four Step Plan.” If you do have self-confidence, begin to specifically direct it towards your chosen goal.
3. Ask for help. People have gone before you. Learn as much as you can from them. When I decided to run a marathon, I read How to Run Your First Marathon and talked to my co-worker Carole almost every single week. When I decided to write an ebook, I talked to Jeramiah (technology), Martha (editing), and Jana (title/outline). Each had information that I needed and played a significant role in helping me accomplish my dreams. Don’t let your pride be the one obstacle that keeps you from them. Instead, humble yourself and ask for help.
4. Adjust your life as necessary. By definition, if you have not accomplished your dream yet, you’ll need to adjust your lifestyle to accomplish it. And while some of the adjustments may be major, they always start small:
- Running a marathon starts with running one mile.
- Writing a book starts with deciding on a subject.
- Clearing your home of clutter starts with cleaning one drawer, closet, or room.
- Losing 50 pounds starts with changing one meal.
- Buying a home starts with saving one dollar.
Fulfilling your dreams will require you to change your lifestyle – one small step at a time. And while there may be a large number of steps to take, the good news is that the first one is completely achievable… and so is the second…
5. Set a deadline. Deadlines force our hand and call us to action. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to pick a realistic timeline and get moving. Buy a home in the next 3 years. Fix your marriage in the next year. Lose 20 pounds in the next 6 months. Or start a blog in the next 30 days. Find a calendar, a red marker, and a day. Go ahead, circle it. After all, a dream without a deadline is just a wish.
6. Tell others. I have found limitless encouragement by sharing my dreams with others. The number of people cheering for me automatically doubles. Soon, it triples. Suddenly, I’m not just trying to let myself down, but I’m trying to not let my friends down as well. And the cost of failure has just increased.
7. Stay focused. By nature, dreams will require perseverance. There will be successes and failures along the way. Those who persevere through the failures will accomplish their dreams. Those who give up will return to step #1. And if you’ve gotten this far, why would you want to start over? Instead of allowing failures to kill your dreams, use them to refocus you and your resolve.
On a side note, I realize all too well that the circumstances of life ebb and flow. I humbly recognize that the positive circumstances of my life this past year have allowed these to dreams to be accomplished. One major illness, accident, or misstep could have derailed any of them listed above. If you currently find the circumstances of life derailing you from reaching your dreams, let me encourage you. Don’t lose hope. Just redirect your dreams.
In the comment section, I’d be interested to hear if you can specifically identify with any of these seven steps. Are their goals in your life that you are working to accomplish? If so, what are they? And which of the steps above are you currently working towards?