I’ve always been a dreamer. Ever since I was a child, I’ve had dreams of doing Big things. Writing The Greatest Novel Ever, being a world class athlete, painting something NYC gallery worthy. My mom made sure to instill a “you can do and be anything” mindset, and I love her for that.
Thing is, dreams are just that. Dreams. And with no follow through, they’re just deflated dreams. For years I floated along on the strength of my natural talents, convinced I was taking real steps to make my dreams come true. I sat down and wrote whenever “inspiration hit” and not on a regular schedule. I quit volleyball teams when they interfered with my nightly TV schedule. I made art sometimes, when it wasn’t too cold or too hot or too pretty outside or I wasn’t distracted by vanilla ice cream. Despite this, I was convinced that someone would come along and recognize my enormous talent and have no choice but to make me famous. Overconfident much?
But you know what, it did happen, short of being famous. Someone came along who appreciated my talent and had the power to get it out to the world. Someone (a few someones actually) did in fact want to help make my dreams come true. All I had to do was finish. Edit a few things, and finish.
As they say, life comes at you fast. When I sat down to finish and realized just how hard it was, how much work was involved, I immediately became discouraged. I thought I’d lost my magic writer’s touch. I found myself turning thirty, still unpublished and wondering why my coasting along hadn’t picked up steam, why wasn’t my name in lights somewhere?! Why was it so HARD to do what I considered my most natural talent?
What I learned from that is that dreaming is just not enough. There are no shortcuts. No abracadabras or magic wands or fairy dust that will make your dream any more real today than it was yesterday. What will, is action. big or small, any actual, tangible action that propels you towards your dream, is the only thing that will bring it closer to being reality. Chasing pretty, fluffy dreams is a romantic notion, something to think about while you sit on a swing and gaze into the clouds.
Action however, is work. And work is hard. It’s grunting, it’s stressful. It’s staying up late or waking up early. Sometimes it’s both. It’s passing on invitations to hang out. It’s five more minutes of sitting in front of a blank screen. It’s putting words to page even when you feel you have nothing left to say. It’s taking that step, any forward step, that will pull your dream from the lala lands of your brainspace and give it a real “it.”
I’m not saying it will always be hard. Doing what you love, what you’re most passionate about, will inevitably have an element of fun. But being dedicated to action, to taking the steps, is not easy, at least for me it isn’t. Chasing a dream with no real plan of action though, will only take you so far. Don’t leave your dream to dry up like a raisin in the sun. Don’t chase. Plan your work, work your plan and walk the path your dream has set before you.
Go, be, do.