First, I’ll admit my iPod Nano’s playlist terribly needs updating, but that’s a story for another day. What matters is a song I heard the other day while running – “One Step at a Time” by Jordin Sparks. (No mocking please, and hey, I told you the playlist is outdated!!)
As I’ve been working steadily on achieving my dreams these past several months, I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they find me inspiring. That I’ve been gotten them to thinking to follow their dreams too, to not just let them go. While I find this very flattering, I have to admit, it blows my mind in a way.
Let me explain. When we’re kids, we have all these dreams of what we want to do. I have a few nephews that at various times of growing up, have wanted to be a tractor trailer driver. They were totally into cars and trucks at that stage of their life, and I loved seeing the excitement on their faces, and that 100% confidence in what they were saying that it seems only kids have these days. As adults, we are sometimes (ok, oftentimes) afraid to admit what we really want to do with our lives. We’re so worried about what others will think. What others will then say to us – “are you crazy? why would you do that? what about all the degrees you’ve worked for? can you really afford to live on that kind of money?” And the list goes on. You have to remember the source of those words and determine for yourself if you want to give them credence. You have to remember the motivation for those questions – is that person projecting their own fear onto you? Are they simply concerned? Are they completely out of touch with who this new “you” is?
Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with all the changes you see yourself having to make. Remember, they don’t need to be done all at once. Just take it one step at a time. Just do one small action every day. Maybe it’s that you start web searching about different careers or find someone’s blog talking about what you want to do. Maybe you look into what air fares cost to the part of the country you want to move to. Maybe you look up academic programs to investigate what other careers are out there that might suit you better than the one in which you currently find yourself. The point is, DO SOMETHING. The easiest way to make something feel less overwhelming is to make a decision to do more than just think about it. Get some stuff out of your head. Write it down and put it somewhere you will be forced to look at it consistently. Don’t let yourself get stuck in that trap known as Paralysis by Analysis.
And, while I know this is easier for me to say than for you to necessarily do, ignore the haters and the doubters. You know how many times it’s been suggested to me to be a lawyer for PETA or some other animal-welfare type of organization? You know how much I HATED being a lawyer?? Let the people who love being a lawyer and who also love animals do that. I am perfectly happy to let them.
If the life you want to lead requires you to live on a smaller salary, then start taking steps to live on less. Everyone’s financial situation is different, of course, but just because you get paid X dollars per paycheck doesn’t mean you have to spend all X of those dollars. Just try saving $5-10 per week. It might not seem like a lot in the beginning but if left to grow, it will. Name the account into which you put it your “Freedom Fund.” Because that’s what it is – your freedom in the future. And by putting every small cent into it, you bring that future closer to your present. Just DO SOMETHING. Because if you don’t, well then, you’re still in the same place. I can’t tell you how long I let myself be stuck in that place. Many, many years. Many years when I just shoved that part of my gut down to a place where it was so muffled I couldn’t understand what it was trying to say. It ended up with me having crying jags almost every day, and to sessions with a therapist where I was in tears that were so painful they were the type that made me feel like I couldn’t breathe afterward, as if I was a little kid. Please, don’t do that to yourself.
I admit, all of this is scary at first. But it’s also exciting. Focus on that, rather than the scariness. That’s what I am doing about my trip to Utah in a few weeks. I’ll be spending two weeks at Best Friends, working with bunnies. I don’t know a ton about bunnies, but guess what? I’m going to learn. I’m going to go there with an open, observing mind, ask questions, and show what I’m made of. I’m not stupid and I’m a hard worker so I aim to make those two qualities show! And yes, it will be hot, but it’s a dry heat, and I figure if I can get through those two weeks’ temps, I should be good in the future. (And believe me, if you had told me that this is what I would be doing, even two years ago, I would not have believed you.)
Ever since I started taking the steps to listen to myself and turn my thoughts into actions, I have felt so much happier with my life. That’s what I wish for you. Just take it one step at a time. And remember, breathe. Because breathing is a good thing! :-)
If you’ve liked this post, please hit like or subscribe or drop me a line! Oh, and read this book: Dream It, Do It: Inspiring Stories of Dreams Come True, by Sharon Cook and Graciela Sholander. (Just skip over the section on Lance Armstrong because the book was published before the truth came out about him.)