Thursday, June 25, 2009

Live Your Dream: Make It Happen

Photo by Bruce Trimble: The road ahead.

You can live your dream. Let's look at some ways you can make it happen.

First of all, look at your dream realistically. Is it something you really want to do, or is it just a fantasy? Are you willing to make sacrifices to make it happen? Will it be in your best interest to have this dream fulfilled?
Pretend it has already happened. Although we can't always visualize just how a fulfilled dream would be, we can come close. Be realistic--drop the romance, the rosy glow that usually accompanies dreams. Acknowledge the challenges that are bound to happen. Does it fit? Can you see yourself there? Is your dream worth the tough times? If so, see yourself overcoming the obstacles.

For us, our dreams, among others, were going to Africa and cruising the South Pacific. Although we’ve had to make sacrifices to make them happen, we’ve never regretted our decisions to act on those dreams and turn them into reality.

I still dream of going places and doing exciting things. One way I've found to fulfil that dream is by volunteering with the American Red Cross locally and nationally. So far I've responded to 38 major disasters and have been able to help victims of fires, hurricanes, mud slides, floods, tornados and terrorism. It hasn’t always been easy. At times I’ve found myself in situations way past my comfort zone, with more adventure than I bargained for. But at the end of an assignment, I’ve felt great satisfaction that I’ve met another challenge and at the same time have helped others in distress.

Traveling with our camper also fulfils our sense of adventure. Our destinations are often out-of-the-way places, such as the Yukon or camping on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land with no amenities, sharing the land with wild habitat.

After our cruise to the South Pacific (See Live Your Dream: Sailing the South Pacific, below), I dreamed of becoming a professional writer. I’d taken a few creative writing classes in the past and then began attending writing workshops and conferences. My first submissions were to boating magazines, destination articles and specifics about off-shore sailing. Later, as we became interested in overland travel, I submitted to RV magazines. Several months passed and although I'd submitted articles to many magazines, I had no luck in getting published, only in collecting a discouraging pile of rejection slips.

I wondered, "Is writing what I'm supposed to be doing?" I seemed to be taking the necessary steps. I spent all my spare time at my computer. Though I did meet family commitments, I usually turned down most activities that didn't point toward fulfilling a writer's dream of being published. Still, no success.

I prayed for a sign that I was on the right track. "Please," I prayed, "give me some sort of sign that I'm pointed in the right direction." Then, in the month of March of that year, three different magazines published my work, articles that had been submitted over a period of several months. I took that as a positive sign, one that I accepted as a go-ahead. Since then, I've had more than 400 articles published in magazines and newspapers, plus two books published with another to be released this year.

How do you know if your dream is worthy of the work it takes to turn it into reality? One sign is that if it's all up-hill, if things eventually don't fall into place, take a second look. Maybe you're dreaming someone else's dream. Or, maybe this dream needs to happen at another time in your life. If your dream becomes a struggle and that struggle makes you unhappy, regroup and pray for guidance.

How do you make dreams happen?

Stay out of debt. Buy on credit only the absolute necessities. Debts can control your life. To be in control, make the sacrifices necessary to keep out of dept. You'll find a wonderful freedom and increased options.

Let go. Let go of the trappings often associated with success. Acquiring possessions is all right if that's all you want out of life. But if you want to fulfill a dream, let go of the extras.

Get rid of clutter. Eliminating the clutter in your life paves the way to move on to other goals.

Simplify! Learn to savor simple foods. Reduce your wardrobe. Learn to enjoy long walks. My husband and I have found that most of our dreams have been planned on our daily three-mile walks. Keep activities to only those you enjoy. Eliminate parties you really don't want to attend or being with people you would just as soon not see.
Make yourself available for opportunity. In order to fulfill a dream, you must be ready. You never know how a dream's realization will manifest itself and open doors to opportunity.
Take action. Go beyond the planning stage. Take steps to make your dream happen. Take classes, attend lectures, research on-line and communicate with people who share your interests. Ask lots of questions. Set the stage for your dream to take shape. Taking action can steer you in the direction of your dream, and you will find the pieces falling into place.
Take care of yourself. A simple lifestyle is a healthier way to live. Many of the issues I've mentioned here help to keep us centered and free from unhealthful mental clutter and anxiety.

Pray for guidance. Is this the right goal at this time in your life? Ask for help in recognizing opportunities and overcoming obstacles.

Remember to live for today. Having dreams and working toward them is good, but living is a present state--not the future and not the past. Find ways to enjoy life now while working toward the future.

Go for it. In my father's basement work shop a small plaque hung on the wall quoting Dr. Samual Johnson, 1708-1784. It says, "Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome." The plaque now hangs in my home office, and reminds me not to wait until everything is perfect before I act. Some obstacles can be ironed out as they occur and many of the problems we anticipate never happen. So, when most circumstances point toward success, make your move. Go for it.


Jane said...

Great article, Mary. Nice to hear advice from a like-minded person.

Alice Trego said...

Great article, Mary, on making your dreams happen. I felt as though you were speaking directly to me, alone.

I like your Blog being with your web site -- very 21st Century-ish.


Heidiwriter said...

Dare to Dream!!
Great series and wonderful advice, Mary. It CAN happen (mine has been happening!) I love the Johnson quote too--excellent words to revisit.


Peggy said...

Hi Mary,
Very nice blog. I had no trouble clicking through from the emails twice.