TAKING ACTION ON YOUR DREAMS (Part 2)

In part 2 of my debut blog I share how you can take action on your own dreams, whatever they are, so you can be your “best-self” regardless of where you are now. (You can read part 1 here).


When you seek out the things that are missing in your life, you’re sure to find them…. Or, make them happen yourself!

At somepoint you decide enough is enough! This isn’t where you were meant to be. You’ve got completely off track and its time to find the right path again.

It happens to us all. Life gets in the way of us pursuing our dreams. We compromise, settle and forget about what we wanted in the first place.

Don’t worry you can get back on track.

For me, it was January 2016 when this realisation occurred. I was at this Women’s Leadership Conference in London[1]. Two days of intense reflection, self-discovery, group work and finding your purpose & passion. It was enlightening!

On the first day, we were given an activity to do on our own… “Spend 20 minutes writing about what passions you had as a child. It’s free-flow writing, so don’t worry about what comes out, just write”.

  The notes I took that day...

The notes I took that day...

The first few minutes were difficult, I tried to think back to myself as a child. The first things I wrote were very much connected to the passions I have now, but then I started connecting to memories I’d almost completely forgotten about. This is what came up for me in the free-flowing brainstorm….

-          I had these wonderful WWF encyclopedia’s as a child which my parents had sent off for, and I used to spend hours reading about different species across the world and dreamt about all the places I could visit

-          I designed zoo’s as fun places for kids to explore (a bit like a computer game, but I would draw it all out on paper, write an itinerary of animals, do the financial plans and imagine what else people would need like café’s and playgrounds etc)

-          I dreamt of being a professional ballet dancer but also just loved dancing for myself and choreographing movement to music in the living room

-          Getting lost in story books and imagining myself old enough to live these lives of adventure

-          Learning about where places were and different cultures and tribes, how people lived differently in different parts of the world…and how one day I’d go and meet them

-          Getting frustrated and angry by all the terrible things I saw on the news and trying to understand why adults didn’t ‘just sort things out’ and help those in need…vivid images of the Rwandan genocide and Bosnian refugees still stay with me

-          Creating assault courses in the garden in the summer and exploring next doors' garden to forage for strawberries felt like the biggest, riskiest adventure ever! (Exploration and adventure was a big theme that kept coming up for me)

-          Painting and creating things…arts & crafts, cross stitch, fancy dress, collages, illustrations, but also writing poetry and short stories (all things I had stopped doing in my late teens)

-          Designing machines that would ‘save the world’ (a lot like the zoo’s I’d spend hours drawing intricate details out)

-          Dreaming of ‘THE FUTURE’ and what I was going to do ‘when I was old enough’…. Like being a professional gymnast; a world leader / politician; an environmental scientist; a vet; a peacekeeper; a novelist; a poet; an artist; an explorer and wildlife photographer (all things I’ve never even considered in my adult life).

 

Well this was insightful…. There were things that connected exactly to the things I’d pursued as an adult like studying peace studies, facilitating dialogue between different cultures and faiths, developing an education programme for children on understanding environmental sustainability and innovation (all the things that I’d developed a career around and did as a job).

But then there were things that brought me joy which I had completely stopped doing like painting, creating things, writing, reading fiction and learning about the things that fed my imagination…. like places, cultures and animals.

It made me think about why we focus on certain things and forget about others. All of the things above brought me joy, so why did I pursue some of them and stop with others?

I was worried that nearly all the things I’d given up were the creative activities. And my immediate reaction was…well I just don’t have time, where would I even fit these things in now?

How often have you said this to yourself – there’s just not enough time! How often to you dismiss your passions, dreams and happiness to there ‘not being enough hours in the day’?


In part one of this blog, I shared with you what triggered me to create a change and live a life of freedom, abundance and purpose[2] - which resulted in setting up Share Impact but also making some pretty fundamental shifts in my life. 

When we recognise that there’s something lacking we decide in a moment whether we’re going to a) do something about it or b) just continue as we are. But even if we choose to do something about it, what actually creates the change is whether or not we continue to take action on a moment-by-moment basis, so we begin to create a habit until it becomes the new normal. 

What I learnt about myself was I had developed a pattern of ‘bad behaviour’ which wasn’t serving me – my deepest desires and dreams - and I’d lost my way a little.

For example, I would decide to read more, so I’d buy a new book and start reading it. Maybe I’d read a bit more the next day and the next. But at some point there’d be a distraction and the habit wouldn’t be created. I wouldn’t continue reading every day, and I’d quickly slip back in to my old habits (of “not having enough time to do that”). Then I’d get frustrated and think, well maybe reading just isn’t my thing…because if I really wanted to do it I would. Or I’d tell myself…. I’ll do it ‘someday’ when I have more time.

Maybe you’ve thought this way about:

  • Losing weight
  • Trying a new hobby
  • Looking for a new job
  • Drinking more water
  • Drinking less alcohol
  • Keeping on top of the housework
  • Going for a walk in your lunch break
  • AND EVERYTHING ELSE YOU’VE EVER THOUGHT ABOUT STARTING BUT NEVER COMMITTED TO!

This is exactly how it was (and sometimes still is) for me.

But now I’ve learnt the method for making changes stick. I’m not perfect at it, but I’m starting to see some momentum and significant shifts in my life.  

If you decide you want something to change, great! But you have to do more than just decide. You have to start taking consistent action to create the habit. To shift from the existing habit that already exists (of either not doing it or doing something else which is getting in the way of you pursuing the new habit).

It’s this consistency, commitment or practice (whatever you want to call it) that builds the momentum and creates the change.

Although it can be challenging breaking out of old habits and creating new ones, I find this step-by-step approach much more useful. Rather than thinking about the huge amount of change I need to create from where I am now, to where I want to be, I can focus on what the small momentary / daily actions are that I need to take, to move me one step closer. It makes it less overwhelming and more manageable.

What new habits do you want to create? What old ones do you want to break?


Listed below, are other things that have helped me to take action on the things you dream of doing or achieving. I share them here in the belief that they will be useful to you too:

  • REFLECT – Take time to think back to when you were a child, what dreams, aspirations and passions did you have then? What filled you with joy and made you excited? What filled you with wonder?
  • THINK– Who do you want to be? If you don’t feel like your best self now, who would your best self be? What would she be doing? How would she act? What wouldn’t she do?
  • DECIDE – What do you really want? Make a list of all the things you would like to achieve, do, change this year. Then write them out as if they’re already happened. Are they really things you want? Or are they just things you think you want, or that other people tell you want or need?
  • LEARN – feed your mind, body and soul. Learning should never stop. Don’t put pressure on yourself with this (I often fell in to this trap) but find ways to learn that fill you with joy, whether its reading more, going to a new class, listening to podcasts, starting a new hobby, learning a new skill or practicing meditation.
  • CHOOSE – only you can decide what to do with your life, no-one else is going to make it happen for you, so decide what you want
  • BELIEVE anything is possible for you. Identify the fears, wobbles
  • Find ACCOUNTABILITY – doing it alone is hard, find someone or a group of people who have your back, will keep you on track but also challenge you when you’re not, and encourage you to stretch yourself
  • Find ROLE MODELS, knowing others have done it (whatever ‘it’ is for you) helps know its possible and strengthens your belief, they might provide guidance or simply be the aspiration (make sure you follow your own unique path though). Who is one step ahead of you? Who is where you want to be? These are your role models.

Footnotes:

[1] It was the MAD leadership Conference led by the Aspire Foundation. If you can go, do, it will be one of the best events you go to this year. I can also highly recommend Dr Sam Collins’ book, Radio Heaven.

[2] These are the things that matter to me. You may choose other priorities, and that’s okay you can apply these suggestions to those as well


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