This time last year, I stopped treating my dream as an unattainable summit I hoped to reach someday. Instead, I Stepped Up and started to take my dream more seriously.
Something amazing happens when you stop treating your dream as a childish, whimsical, and unattainable passion. The day you Step Up and actively begin your journey towards your dream is the day you become the real you.
It’s hard to summarize exactly what this change entails, so I wrote out as many as I could. I settled on 37 to be exact.
[ONE] You finally give yourself permission to dream
Something happens when you get older, you value your dreams less and less. When you take your dream seriously, you are giving yourself permission to dream again.
Don’t ever feel like you have to give people a sensible answer when they ask, “What do you want to do with your life?”
Tell them your crazy dream. You have permission now.
[TWO] You show up more consistently
I’m sleep deprived as I write this. After a night of battling my son to get him to stay asleep, I’m here, writing away because I know at least one person needs to read this blog post.
Before “going pro” my blogging schedule was sporadic. Now I know by Wednesday at 6 AM I better have something written. People are counting on me.
When you take your dream seriously, you show up to do the work. It earns a time slot on your calendar. This isn’t a hobby reserved for a rainy day. When you take your dream seriously, every day is a rainy day, and you are stuck outside in the storm.
[THREE] You zero in on the horizon
Other paths may present themselves, even tempting watering holes to settle down and “rest” for a little bit. But you have your sights set on the horizon, and won’t stop until you get there.
You no longer meander aimlessly. You’re zeroed in on your dream and trudge along.
[FOUR] You treat yourself more seriously
There’s nothing like giving the middle finger to the world and yelling, “This is what I am doing with my life!”
When you take your dream seriously, you take you seriously.
[FIVE] You focus on craft and technique
The steps to achieving your dream become clearer. They are no longer ambiguous, mystical, or reserved for the chosen ones.
Chasing your dream involves honing your craft and developing your technique. No more theory. No more textbooks. Just practice.
[SIX] You invest in yourself
To make yourself better, you need time and/or money. When you take your dream seriously, you no longer feel buyers remorse when you shovel out either form of currency.
[SEVEN] You meet really cool people
You are one in a million. Which means there are 7,125 other individuals just like you on this planet.
When you Step Out onto the path towards your dream, you will encounter others heading the same way. Occasionally, you might run into highway robbers or hitchhikers, ignore them. They aren’t going to make it.
Stick with the cool kids.
[EIGHT] You help other people on similar journeys
The cool kids will eventually become your friends. What do friends do? They help each other without anticipating anything in return.
[NINE] You build a community around you
Eventually, your group of cool kids becomes a caravan and they are looking to you for directions.
Lead and serve.
[TEN] People want to help you
[ELEVEN] Your family and friends will question you
Your friends and family know only a fraction of who you truly are. They are not acclimated to this new, shiny, dream-chasin’ you.
Give them time to come around. But be ready for the questioning. And skeptical looks. And bad advice.
Just smile and nod.
[TWELVE] You will learn to manage friction
Do you remember any of your past failed projects? What happened? Most likely they followed this pattern:
- You think of awesome idea
- You throw yourself headlong into project
- Progress a little with initial motivation
- Get worn out
Motivation isn’t the only driving force behind chasing your dream. After a while motivation is hard to come by. That’s where managing friction comes into play.
As you progress on your journey, you’ll learn how to remove the obstacles blocking your path. So instead of trying to sprint through the thickets, you’ll set a nice pace along a well-trodden path.
[THIRTEEN] You showcase your dream with confidence
Or at the very least, you act confident. People resonate more with your work if you exude confidence.
If you don’t believe in yourself, they won’t believe in you.
This is your dream, your journey – own it!
[FOURTEEN] You feel vulnerable and exposed
Not everything is candy canes and gum drops when you take your dream seriously.
But vulnerability is good. It means you are making progress. It means you are showing your work to the world, ready to accept feedback.
And there will be feedback. Some good, some bad. But that’s okay, it means the world is listening.
[FIFTEEN] You don’t care about the money
“If I had done for the money, I’d have been a f*cking lawyer,” recites the wise Macklemore.
Money is no longer the end goal and if it is, sorry chump, you don’t have a real dream.
The thrill of achieving our dream, that’s what we’re after. To one day stand on that summit of success and look back at how far we’ve come, that’s what drives us.
Money is just a tool.
[SIXTEEN] You wake up each day with a purpose
You know why it’s hard for 9-to-5ers to wake up on the weekends? It’s because they don’t have any work to do. And without any work to do, so goes their sense of purpose.
Not for us dream-chasers, every day is a chance to crawl a few more inches closer to our dream.
When you take your dream seriously, you take your time seriously. Who needs a snooze button anyway?
[SEVENTEEN] You don’t care what you get in return…
Because now you care more about how much you give.
[EIGHTEEN] You do it because you have to…
Not because you want to.
When you take your dream seriously, there is no turning back. You can only move forward.
[NINETEEN] You treat failure as progress
Some people are so scared of failure, they never even admit they once had a dream. You know who I’m talking about. These people end up living sad lives.
Failure is good. Failure is a learning opportunity. Failure prepares you for success.
Failure is part of the adventure.
[TWENTY] You know who you are
I’m a writer.
It took me years to admit it, but once I Stepped Up to chase my dream, my identity became clearer. I’m a writer.
I’m not a wannabe, aspiring, something-I-do-on-the-side writer. I’m a writer.
Who are you?
[TWENTY-ONE] Your purpose becomes clearer
When you take your dream seriously, you aren’t afraid to ask yourself the hardest question known to man: Why?
Asking Why over and over again helps you to unlock your purpose.
[TWENTY-TWO] You appreciate the process
Trying to figure out the best route to your dream is half the fun. Sure, some people are always looking for the shortcuts or growth hacks, but they aren’t really chasing a dream. (See [FIFTEEN])
You, on the other hand, respect the growth process. Like a deep sea diver avoiding the bends, you rise slow and cautious. Because gas bubbles in your blood suck. And so does success without becoming properly acclimated to it.
When you take your dream seriously, you learn to divide it up into smaller attainable goals. By doing so, you grow at a healthy pace and learn to appreciate the small wins.
[TWENTY-THREE] You breathe, eat, and bathe in your dream
When you take your dream seriously, it’s all you can think about. People might find it annoying, just in case you were wondering why you weren’t being invited to so many parties anymore.
[TWENTY-FOUR] You prove you are committed
Instead of dating your dream on and off again for the past 8 years, when you take your dream seriously, you’re basically getting married to it.
And unlike Britney and Kevin, you intend to make this work.
[TWENTY-FIVE] You take risks
Or should I say, you aren’t afraid of taking risks.
[TWENTY-SIX] You don’t panic when things don’t go according to plan
Similar to [NINETEEN], when things don’t go according to plan, instead of allowing your whole journey to unravel, you calmly find the best detour back to the main road.
I did not have the best start to 2016, and even as I write this, my son has thrown up twice (make that three times) from a stomach bug he contracted at daycare. But here I am, writing away – I take my dream seriously, so I put in the work.
I don’t panic. I keep Stepping Forward.
[TWENTY-SEVEN] You set timely goals
One day and some day no longer appear in your vocabulary.
Things need to get done promptly. When you take your dream seriously, you control the timetable.
My goal is self-employment by the year 2018. 676 days left.
[TWENTY-EIGHT] You feel like you finally belong
Something cool happens when you chase your dream, you run into other people chasing their dream. There is an unspoken understanding between us: It’s us against the world.
We’re all in the fight together. Welcome.
[TWENTY-NINE] You embrace the opportunities
I shied away from a lot of opportunities when I didn’t take my dream seriously. I was afraid of a challenge.
I’ve learned my lesson and now welcome any opportunities that may come my way.
[THIRTY] You have a story
My greatest fear is leaving this earth without a story to tell. If my life isn’t worth recounting, then I didn’t live a life to my standards.
When you chase your dream, you have an adventure at hand. The narrative writes itself. Capture this narrative and remember to share it with your grandkids one day.
[THIRTY-ONE] You feel gracious you were chosen for this journey
When you take your dream seriously, it’s up to you to fulfill it. Not your neighbor, not your co-worker, not the awkward barista at Starbucks. You.
You should feel proud and grateful.
[THIRTY-TWO] You don’t seek permission
Once my son starts talking, he will need to ask for permission to watch TV, have a snack, or play with his friends.
You are not a child anymore. Chances are you started taking your dream seriously without any one’s permission. Keep it that way.
[THIRTY-THREE] You face your fears
We may never learn to overcome all our fears, but when you take your dream seriously, you learn to confront them.
People who are afraid to chase their dreams never learned to confront their fears. The nice thing is, once you start facing your fears, it gets easier and easier.
[THIRTY-FOUR] You become scared
As I said in [FOURTEEN] chasing your dream is not an easy endeavor. Even with a newfound confidence and ability to face your fears, the journey is still scary.
However, it’s better than settling for complacency. At least we get to experience something!
[THIRTY-FIVE] You make sacrifices
This makes achieving your dream even sweeter.
[THIRTY-SIX] You don’t stop moving forward
Like jumping out of a plane, there is no turning back. Never the same today as you were yesterday.
Although you may feel like your progress is slow, people will notice otherwise. It’s an attractive quality to have.
[THIRTY-SEVEN] You live
Too many people waste away their lives. They waste away at a job they hate. They waste away flipping through their Netflix queue. They waste away mindlessly scrolling through their phones.
It’s a sickness. An epidemic.
And it’s our job to share the cure: take your dream seriously. When you do, you live a more fulfilling life.