This past weekend, I told a friend of mine that I want to live in New York City part-time. I'm based in San Francisco. While I recognize these two cities aren't that close, they aren't that far, either.
"I will live in New York City part-time," I told my friend. Because I really, really want to. And career-wise, it happens to make sense, too.
"I dream of being bi-coastal!" my friend replied, a recent NYC transplant already missing that New York buzz. "My ideal life is half of my time in New York, half of my time in San Francisco."
"Then do it!" I said.
"Oh, I couldn't" she told me, with her signature hint of sheepishness. "That's something you could make happen, not me."
Before I had a chance to convince her that she was wrong, we were interrupted. So we quickly agreed that she could stay in my (future) NYC apartment whenever she wanted to get her fill of the Big Apple.
Later that night, I couldn't kick the very disappointed feeling I had that my friend held such strong limiting beliefs about what she could do with herself and her life that she stopped herself from actualizing her desire.
My friend is obviously not alone in this. So many of us are guilty of compromising our dreams before we even give them a chance. Is this you?
The next day, I hung out with another friend, who couldn't wait to share with me an invention he had recently dreamed up. He excitedly yammered on about the incredible way his invention could change an entire industry. He was probably right, it was a brilliant idea.
"Wouldn't it be great if I really developed it?" he asked. I replied that yes, of course, it would be wonderful. Then I prompted him, "So do it!"
You can see where this is going, right?
My friend had his lists of reasons and excuses, so thick they fogged over his enthusiasm altogether. Despite the fact that this friend of mine has the brains, time and connections to make this idea a reality sooner than most, he had convinced himself that it's just a pipe dream and the idea lives only in his head.
But here's the thing: The only one stopping you from doing exactly what you want is you. Not time or money or the laundry list of reasons your rational brain has drummed up. The biggest difference between you and the person that has made it is action. That's it! Just action.
You're probably thinking that I'm making this out to be easier than it really is. But I understand (all too well) that feeling you can get when you stare your dream in its face: total overwhelm. Your goal seems too big and scary and hard -- an insurmountable mountain when you can barely climb the stairs to your third floor apartment without huffing and puffing.
That's why I'm armed with a suggestion.
Brian Tracy, a business coach and self-help all star, offers one of the best goal-actualizing exercises I've found. It makes a massive dream seem possible -- and more importantly, actionable.
Here's how it works:
Write down your big dream. Then, break it into its various components -- all of the things required to make it happen. Break each of those into even smaller components, until you have a long list of discrete, bite-size tasks.
Then, do one thing on that list every single day. Just one thing. It can be as easy as writing a new list or as scary as making that important phone call to a potential investor. Imagine what would happen if you did just one thing every day for the next month towards your big dream. You'd be a lot closer to it than you are now, right?
So, before you let the doubter and realist in your brain take hold, get out a paper and a pen and do it. Write down your dream and break it up into its smaller action-steps. A word of warning: Breaking down some goals into their various components is a pretty big task, so be patient with yourself. Keep in mind that this list doesn't have to be comprehensive right now. We all learn as we go. Most of the time we don't even know what we're getting ourselves into. But that's okay! Just start with what you know.
Here's to taking action!
For more from Alexis, check out her website.
And if you're feeling stuck--like you're not even sure what your dream is in the first place, be sure to sign up for Alexis's newsletter, you'll get her Secrets to Getting Unstuck worksheet, free!
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