At the beginning of the month, I got an email with the subject line that read: Does a day job mean giving up on my dreams?
It was an email newsletter from Marie Forleo, an entrepreneur and motivational speaker (named as the thought leader of our generation by Oprah) whom I’ve been following for the last two years.
The body of the email talked about the problem of a specific person, who had been trying to make a business work, but wasn’t quite making enough money to pay the bills. But if she took a regular job, would that mean tossing out her dreams?
There was a video attached, because if you follow Marie, you know she truly excels in front of the camera. What followed was an hour-long (free) training called “How to Get Anything You Want”.
I listened immediately.
Before I go any further, I’ll explain that I’ve toyed with this idea of “Dream vs. Career” for pretty much the last 10 years of my life. I have always either worked two jobs, or had a job and freelance on the side, or had a job and wrote this blog on the side… all because there was something my day job wasn’t fulfilling in me, whether it was enough money or the social environment or creative freedom, something was missing.
And things are finally getting to the point where I’m not sure how much longer I can go just imagining my dreams. It’s time I got off my ass and actually made them a reality.
So, Marie’s training came to me at a great time. She started off by talking about how everyone has dreams, but not many people actually attempt to go after them because they’re so afraid of failure (totally me).
Realizing your dreams; even just writing them down on a piece of paper in a hidden drawer, makes them real, and puts yourself out there. So, the first step is gathering that courage to define your dreams.
As silly as it sounds, this may be the most difficult part for me. Why? Because I have SO many dreams. I don’t want to let any of them go, even though I know I can’t live them all. I want to live in Los Angeles AND New York and not at the same time; I want to go to London; I want to take an Alaskan cruise; I want to write for Vulture or The Cut; I want to write a made-for-TV screenplay; sometimes, I just want to choreograph dances for the local high school pom squad and other days I want to have a guest spot with the Laker Girls. I kind of want to go to culinary school, or maybe just write a TV series, all until John Mayer finally swoops me up and I can just live Montana cabin life and write his blog for him.
I know, I sound like a crazy person. So, I’m still working through step one (I’m using my holiday weekend to get some of my thoughts organized). Overall, though, I know I want to empower and motivate others, and I know I want to do that through my writing and through teaching others how to write and publish their own blogs, to get the fulfillment that I have gotten.
Marie talked next about a woman who really wanted to write a book and have it be published. But as soon as she wrote this goal down and committed her life to making it happen, life got in the way BIG TIME for her. She had family problems, and major financial problems… basically all signs pointing to “no!” But, she kept on and wrote her book. And once it was finished, she sent it to publishers. And they, too, told her NO. Even the publisher that eventually told her yes, told her to keep her day job because she wouldn’t see enough money from the book.
That woman, of course, was J.K. Rowling, and the book was the first installment of Harry Potter. And look how that turned out!
Now I know, we can’t all turn out like Ms. Rowling, but I have always loved that story. Anyone can make their dreams come true, and Marie was using that story to say that once you absolutely commit to something, it can happen.
That’s why you have to make your goal as specific and concrete as possible (again, not easy). Because once you fully commit to this goal, other goals have to take a backseat (heart = broken).
So, if you’re feeling me and doing this exercise, you get a clean piece of paper and write down your dream. “What I really want is…”
And it doesn’t have to be something career-related. It could be a project at home; losing weight; running a marathon; learning a skill; traveling to an exotic place; saving money, etc. Whatever you truly want!
Once you define what you want, write the WHY. And while I know I’m still defining my wants, I know the why. I need creative freedom and fulfillment, and I don’t want to necessary be strapped by the daily office grind.
Next, make a list of all the excuses you’re going to tell yourself as to why you can’t achieve your goal – such as, “I can’t afford it”, “There’s not enough time”, or “I live in the wrong city”.
Next, debunk all of those excuses with a solution. According to Marie, time and money are the top two excuses we use on ourselves, and they can be solved if we just try. The time one is definitely one I’ve heard a lot from other people over the years – when I had a second job or wrote books or maintained this blog, my coworkers would say they didn’t understand how I had the time.
But time is the great equalizer; we all have 24 hours in a day. And yes, I know Beyonce and Oprah have full staffs to keep their empires going, but you control how you spend YOUR 24 hours. Do you spend it researching, reading, at the gym, etc. doing what you have to do to reach your goals, or do you spend it sleeping?
If you can’t find ways to solve your potential excuses, there’s a chance you just don’t want it bad enough. And that’s okay, time to seek the next dream! Because if you want it, you will make the time. Use this as a way to become more self-aware; see how many times you tell yourself you can’t, and then look at your list of solutions to keep things moving.
And finally, you’ve got to keep the faith. Be your biggest cheerleader, and be ready to pick yourself up when the course changes, because it will.
So, all of that to say, that this has what’s been on my mind for the last few weeks. I’m 100% certain you’ll be hearing more about it, because I’ve got to put my dreams into the universe if I think they’re ever going to become real.
I’d love to know about your dreams. Maybe you’re living them already, and how did you get there? How do you keep yourself going? I’m ready to jump into a supportive community right away!
But first, turkey (amirite?).