Society is full of many strange paradoxes. One such is that the most common advice for careers is to follow your passion, yet for many of us, if we tried to follow our passion for a career we would be told to get a “real” job. As if your passion could not be a real job, even though business books, motivational speakers, and the great men/woman of the past have shown frequently otherwise. Often the impression is given that dictating the terms of your own life is important, but only so long as its for a hobby. You want to write, or draw? It seems to be fine, so long as you do it on the side. You want to invent? As long as you have an engineering degree and have been hired by a corporation with a bigger bank account than the state than sure. You want to prove these statements wrong? Okay, but if you do it will only be because you are the exception.
The truth is that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can’t control what society is going to believe and say, but more important than what society has to say about your dreams is what you have to say about them. Unfortunately due to societies attitude towards chasing after your dreams we now have this unspoken taboo that one should only take their dreams so seriously. We have been raised to think that anything more serious than a side business or side hobby is just unpractical, and that only certain people may do this. Forget that! This world needs people who will take their dreams seriously. We need that innovation, we need that inspiration, and we need to stop looking at our dreams as a joke!
Here are 41 ways to take your dreams more seriously…
1. Commit to your dreams. Either you are going to take them seriously or you aren’t. There is not really an in-between on this. Decide that you are going to do whatever it takes to complete your dreams. Commit now to take your dreams seriously. Commit now to do everything in your power to make them happen. Commit now to never give up.
2. Clarify your dreams. Sometimes our dreams just aren’t clear enough for us to take them seriously. You may have a vague idea, of a direction you might want to start moving in but you just aren’t sure what that would look like, or even what you would want it to look like. Set aside ten minutes to an hour. Sit down with pen and paper, and ask yourself what your dream life would look like. Be as detailed as possible.
3. Make time for your dreams. The only time you are guaranteed to have is time that you make for yourself. Pull out your calendar, and set at least one hour a week to work on your dreams. It doesn’t even have to be all at once. One way you could reach this goal would be 10 minutes a day 6 days a week. Even if it is just a little bit of time each day, you will still be better off than if you had made no time at all for your dreams. Make it clear to your friends and family that you are not to be disturbed during this time. If you can’t make that because you are doing all the chores in the house, than delegate some of your work to someone else. You need time to rest, and you need time to work on your dreams.
4. Cut out distractions. Anything that is not as important as your dream needs to wait until you have at least put some work in your dreams. Example of this would be tv shows which can either be recorded or watched online, checking your e-mail, messaging and twitter. Those can all be set aside for a later time; they aren’t going anywhere. Turn off your phone, turn off any application that you don’t need running, and put the extra focus that you have now gathered up in to your dreams.
5. Break it down in to habits. Any dream worth completing is going to take time, and practice. The best way to practice is to build a habit. For example one of my dreams is to get good enough at blogging to turn it in to a full time career. The habits required for this, are taking it seriously, writing every day, networking consistently, and constantly learning things worth hearing about. Once you have your list of habits see if you can break them down in to more habits. In order for me to network, I have to keep in contact with people, so I have to make that a habit. I also have to take time to put myself out there. These aren’t difficult steps, and I spend a month on each habit that I want to build, strictly focused on that habit. It takes a while, but every day that I continue to work on those habits I am one step closer to my dreams. It gives me a success to celebrate daily.
6. Define success for yourself. This goes back to clarifying your dreams. What would success look like? Why would it look like that? You have to set your own standards for what each of your successes are.
7. Set several small goals. This will build your confidence, and teach you one of the most important things you need to know for taking your dreams seriously; that you can.
8. Celebrate small victories. If you have finished building one of the habits that you need for your dreams than treat yourself. Go out to eat, grab a candy bar, sit down and watch a movie, just something to reward yourself for completing your goal. Also make sure to keep a list where you can write down each victory as you gain it. This will be useful on the days when you are not sure if your dreams are really worth taking seriously. Heck, even if you’ve just done something for the first time. Celebrate.
9. Focus on the Journey This is not complete your dreams or you have failed. This is start walking towards your dreams, and just keep going. If you never reach your ultimate goal, that is okay. Did you walk towards it? Did you do everything in your power to make it happen? Focus on the moving forward, more than the location. The best travelers don’t worry about when or whether they get there. Every step of the journey IS the journey.
10. Do not limit yourself. In all honesty, how do you know what your limits really are? You learn every day, you gain experience every day, so even if you have tried and failed at reaching for something, how do you know that you will fail every time? How could you know what your limits are. The fact is the only limits you really have are the ones that you put on yourself. This is a dream, let it be big, and don’t assume you can’t do it. You don’t know what you will be able to do over time.
11. Come to terms with death. Everyone dies. No one survives life. In fact you don’t even have any guarantee that you will survive today. Things happen, people get sick, people get hit by cars (whether they are in a car or not) any number of things could take your life, or the lives of your loved ones. There is an urgency to this. Do you really want to get to the end of your life without knowing I mean really knowing that you did everything in your power to be everything that you could be?
12. Mind your surroundings. Our body is 70% water, and it has been now proven by Dr. Masaru Emoto that the way water comes together is strongly effected by its surroundings. The fact is that if you are always surrounded with something it will effect you. It will become part of how you think, part of how you speak, and part of the ideas that come to you. If you are surrounded by people and things that are healthy and encouraging, than over time you will start to become more healthy and you will start to latch on to that encouragement. Don’t believe me? Surround yourself with health information for a month, and see if you don’t end up acting on some of it. Cut out any song with negative lyrics, and see if you aren’t a more positive thinker at the end of the month.
13. Do not talk down to your dreams. If you catch yourself thinking “oh its just a silly dream”, than stop right there. Its not just a silly dream, its your dream, and there is a good reason why you have dreamed it up.
14. Know why you want your dream. Is it a mark of leadership? Would it prove something to yourself? Would it make the world better? Is it a way to really embody your values? You could have any number of reasons for wanting what you want. That is okay. You want it for some reason sit down, and make the time to figure out what that is.
15. Be open to new dreams. Sometimes things are just not the way that we thought they would be. That is fine. Or maybe you found out that what you really wanted out of your dream was something you could get another way. That is fine too. This world is full of dreams. If you find that your current dream just isn’t important to you anymore, or that its not really what you were looking for don’t be afraid to change course.
16. Seek out mentors. Look for someone that is doing what you want to do, and see if they will answer some of your questions. Ask anyone that you see as successful how they got to where they are. There are mentors everywhere, and everyone can teach you something. So learn as much as you can.
17. Put your money where your heart is. When you put your wallet on the line it really can take the seriousness of your dreams to a whole new level. Invest in a course, and than work hard to make sure that not a penny of it gets wasted. Go out and buy some supplies. Pay for the frames necessary to get your artwork hung in a local cafe. Budget and spend what you can on your dreams.
18. Do something you thought you couldn’t. Now more than ever anything that you want to learn how to do is right at your fingertips. Look up someone in the area who can teach you. Look up videos online. Learn everything you can about whatever it is, and just start trying to do it. If you don’t do it right that time, than you just learned one way not to do it. Keep trying until you figure it out.
19. Have patience with yourself. No one starts off on top. No one starts off being the best. Michael Jordan failed several times. In fact in junior high he couldn’t even make the basketball team. It takes time to do something really well, so please be patient with yourself.
20. Look for motivation regularly. Look at people who got up even though the odds were against them. Look for the things that inspire you. When you are having a hard day, those motivational stories, will start coming back to you. Time and time again you will find that they can change the way you approach life, and help you find greatness within yourself.
21. Believe that you stand a chance. Henry Ford said that “whether you believe you can or can’t; you’re right.” Even if its just a small chance, believe in it. You have to believe in something to make it happen.
22. Put a deadline on it. Put deadlines on forming habits, put deadlines on your small goals. This will force you to work on it. This will push you to really give everything you can to complete it. Someday does not exist. Your life is only so long. Put a calendar date to shoot for. Even if you don’t quite make your deadline you will be a lot closer to your dreams, than if you had not set said deadline.
23. Know what you are willing to put into this. These are your dreams we are talking about. How much time can you afford to spend working on them. How much time can you afford not working on them? How much money can you put in to this? What are your dreams worth to you?
24. Take Risks. All the “what if”s in the world will not make your dreams come true. You are going to have to take some risks. You may have to risk money, embarrassment, the opinion of others. Do it anyways. You only have one life, and it needs to be your own.
25. Avoid Naysayers Anyone who makes a regular habit of talking down to people. Steer clear of those who really don’t think you can do it. You don’t need those people around. Let them be mediocre on their own. You have dreams to go after.
26. Work your way up. So you might not be ready to run for president. Run for a local office. Not ready to stand up in front of a crowd and give a speech? Introduce yourself to a stranger. This does not have to, nor should it happen all at once. Do what you can today, and tomorrow you’ll be able to do more.
27. Help others learn. Whenever you teach a subject you end up learning it very well. In fact you can learn many things better through teaching than you could have learned through just doing as you end up up breaking it down to its most basic and important functions, on top of reviewing what you have already learned. This is also a great motivation, as it builds confidence, and you learn first hand that you really do have value to offer. This is also a great way to network with people that are trying to do the same thing as you.
28. Form alliances. Having a group of people that you talk to regularly about where you are on your goals gives you someone besides yourself to be accountable to. It also creates new opportunities, and can be a great way to not only find mentors, but to be a mentor. This motivates you to learn more so that you have something to offer to your team. Not only will this help you stay focused on your dreams but you can meet some really awesome people this way.
29. Refocus your goals at least once a month. Take this time go over any progress you have made. Make sure that what you are working on is still what you need. Pick the next thing that you need to work on.
30. Show up. It’s been said that showing up is half the battle. Go to an event for people that are trying to go after the same dream. Go to a class to learn what you need to learn. Take the time that you have set for your dreams. Don’t let that time go to anything less important than your dreams.
31. Study the most successful people in your area. If you want to be a comedian, study your favorite comedians. If you want to be an artist, study your favorite artists. Study the best writers, business men, politicians, and athletes. If you dream about doing something that no one has ever done than study the great discoverers!
32. Experiment. The whole point of learning is to apply. Look for new ways to apply the things you are learning about your dreams. Either do something that you see someone else successful doing to see how it works for you, or come up with something that has not been tried yet. Its an experiment there is no real way to fail, as either way you learn more.
33. One step at a time. Don’t look at your dreams like things that have to be completed all at once. Pick the first thing you need to do to get closer to your dreams, and focus strictly on that. Complete it. Than move on to the next step, again just focusing on one step at a time.
34. Keep a list of why you can complete your dreams. Come up with as many reasons as you can. Even if you can only come up with only 1 reason that is fine. Try to add at least one reason a week. It may be a small difference, but it will definitely add up over time. Keep this list somewhere that you will see it regularly.
35. Identify yourself with your dream. Call yourself a writer, call yourself an artist, call youself a professional blogger. Even if you don’t do it full time if you are really taking this seriously than you are a proffesional.
36. Carry yourself as though you are already successful. Picture yourself in your dream role. What is your posture? How do you talk? How do you dress? Take these things and work on practing them. It will make identification with your dreams easier, and again bring them closer to fruition by building a habit.
37. Brain storm. Next time you have to wait in line try to see how many ways you can think of to make your dream a reality. See if you can come up with an experiment that will set you apart from every one else trying to do this. Come up with as many things as you can, and make sure to write down as much as you can. You can also use a recording feature on your cell phone to make memos as well.
38. Take it one day at a time. Don’t worry about what you will need to do tomorrow for your dreams. Write it down, than go through it tomorrow. Today you need to just focus on what you can do today. This will make the goal much more manageable, and keep you from getting discouraged. You can also commit to do small things just for today, to make your dreams happen.
39. Do not compare yourself to others. The most important person for you to do better than is yourself. Don’t worry about what the next person is doing. Encourage them when you can. These other people are not competitors, they are fellow dreamers, who are doing the same thing as you are… trying to complete their dreams.
40. Look for inspiration everywhere. Galileo solved a riddle for a King after watching the water raise as he got in to the bath tub. Newton discovered gravity because an apple hit him on the head. You never know what will trigger a great idea. So be on the look out.
41. Have fun. You may be trying to take your dreams seriously, but that just makes it all the more important to have fun. If you have fun going after your dreams than you will want to do it. It will keep you passionate about your dreams and goals. So don’t get so caught up in going after your dreams that you forget to have fun. Its about the journey not the destination, remember?
No matter what you decide to do, take your dream seriously. There are sillier dreams that have made bigger splashes than anyone ever expected. Sometimes including the dreamers themselves. Don’t treat your dreams as a joke, if for no other reason than to inspire others. Don’t let yourself wonder what you can do, I challenge you do go out and do it! Don’t just dream; dream seriously.