I spent the better part of a long while, waiting for a breakthrough. Waiting to write that book I had been thinking about for years. Waiting to take that trip to Hawaii, or Europe, or any of the other destinations on my bucket list. Waiting for some sort of breakthrough that would reveal to me my path to a lasting a true happiness.
The problem with waiting for a breakthrough is that all those, “somedays,” and, “what ifs,” grow into a list of, “I nevers,” and, “I wish I would haves,” faster than you realize. There will always be a reason to side burner your passions. For me, there were a number excuses that I sold myself on.
- “I’ll take that trip when I have more money.”
- “I’ll write that book when things so slow down.”
- “I’ll make the time to do X, Y, or Z, as soon as I’m done with A, B, and C.”
I did what most people tend to do; I dreamed big but acted small. It’s easy to fall into this trap. After all, it’s how most of us were raised. As children, we are told that the sky’s the limit and that everything is possible. We are told we can be anything we want to be when we grow up. We are conditioned to aim high, and then later told to be more realistic. We are asked what we want to be, and then told who we should be. First by our family. Then by our peers. Then our educators and mentors get into the act. Then eventually even we begin doing it to ourselves.
The root of the problem is the very question itself; “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It implies that WHAT you eventually spend your days doing is more important than HOW you do it, WHY you do it, and WHO you will become as a person. Questions like this are the first step towards a lifetime of settling for less.
Why is it that we dare to aspire without boundaries in our youth, but are quick to discard such dreams as unrealistic as we get older?
The problem with having big dreams is that it also means risking big failures. It is indescribably scary to step out of what is comfortable to risk achieving something magical. This is why we settle for, “good enough,” instead of, “better than I could have ever dreamed.” This is why we often have secret hopes that we dare not say out loud because in doing so it not only opens us up to judgment but it also transforms our wishes into something real and actionable.
There is nothing wrong with having ambitious desires. But, a desire that does not inspire you to take timely and decisive action towards the pursuit of that goal is both unhelpful and frankly, harmful. Whether you are hiding behind a litany of excuses or adrift in a sea of self-doubt, carrying around a growing list of unrealised dreams chips away at your self-esteem. No matter what you have, praise you receive, or achievements that you do accomplish, you will still feel like a failure. Dreaming is great. Dreaming with no intention of actually doing is pointless. It is also no way to spend your life. And this is exactly what I found myself doing.
Like many, I allowed myself to be defined by what I was between the hours of 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. I hit a point in my career where I was so focused on what I did, that I forgot why I started doing it in the first place. How I did my job mattered less and less. And who I was (much less who I wanted to become) wasn’t even a question on my radar anymore. My life looked good enough on paper, but good enough was no longer, well… good enough. That is when I realized that I needed to make a fearless, sweeping, and drastic change in my life.
This uncomfortably close to forty-years-old, it is both a terrifying and liberating for me to make such substantial life changes. It is also the surest sign that it needs to be done. So, if the first step saying it out loud (or in this blog) then here goes:
- I AM committing myself towards actively pursuing my dream of writing full time.
- I AM completing my first full-length novel this spring.
- I WILL be seeking both agent representation and to secure a traditional publishing deal.
- I WILL be actively promoting myself as a writer and leveraging all the tools at my disposal.
- I CAN achieve my dream and I WILL work tirelessly towards making my desire a reality with all that I AM.
I am doing this because, “someday,” has come and gone and, “what if,” is a question that can only be answered by me. I will do this because I am committed to holding myself accountable and confident that this is the path for me. And I can do this because my desire to achieve these goals is greater than my fear of failing to reach them.
All this time, I’ve been wishing, looking, and waiting for a breakthrough. What I now know, is that what I needed to do the entire time was break through the limitations I placed on myself.
Look out 2017… I’m gonna’ make it one hell of a year!