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Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Vague Guide on how to Chase a Dream.

I was musing over New Year's resolutions, and I realized something:

I'm totally chasing my dream, just not yet...

We grow up expecting to put our best on hold. We're told "When you're older", "When you grow up" and "someday". These are soft, safe, indefinite periods of time that will just come to us. The days certainly do, especially "When you're older".

New Year's resolutions are smaller versions of this. We get a little hope in our eyes when we quantify something we want for ourselves, and tell ourselves we'll get right on it...As soon as this year's over. Why not now? Today isn't a round number. There aren't enough 1's in the date.

We're so used to putting things on hold. I want to lose weight, be healthy, and not want to die just because I stood up from the couch. I won't DO anything today, even though my desire to change is at it's most fresh. Even though right now would be the time to make the change.

With bigger changes, there's no reason to tell yourself to flip a switch. You know, I'll continue to absolutely abuse myself, but as soon as I see all those 1's in the date, I can change. I'll excercise 3 hours a day and only eat baby spinach and tofu! What you don't even let yourself think about is by making a little change now, say, getting out and going for a little walk, is so amazingly easy to do, we can't accept it as a step to change.

We aren't used to effort when it comes to our dreams. Dreams are happy thoughts. Putting them off until "someday" lets us imagine they could be real, without the risk of trying and failing. Real effort ending in failure is one of the most genuine disappointments in life. Another disappointment is what people choose to accept as failure.

"Everything didn't go as planned..." so what? That's just life. Did you learn something? Is your goal now unattainable, or even scarier, what if you got close but realized what you truly want is something different?

But, oh wizened Ben, how can I change my motivation?

Think about this: Person McPrimate wants to be a famous actor. He's pushing 40, and has never even pursued this dream.

Parallel World #1: Person joins an acting class. Person memorizes some Shakespeare. Person auditions for a few local plays, never cast. Gives up.

Parallel World #2: Person does nothing, aside from actively resenting award shows.

Guess which one is happier? World #1. He tried, he failed. He still learned a lot, met some new people, stepped outside his comfort zone. He never regrets not doing something.

Most of us could easily live in World #1, there's always something we can do to chase our dreams, even if it's just ask advice from someone who can give you advice on your dream. There's another world, though. The world in which Person never chooses to accept failure, eventually lands a speaking part, maybe another. He may choose to improve his skill. He may choose to try and get on TV, he may choose to stay on stage. As long as Person knows what he wants, he's always going to make strides in that direction, however big or small.

The only thing that separates any of these is choice. In what you choose to do or change, there may be a big step needed that you may not have the resources for, be it money, time or any number of things. A lot of us might be surprised that as much as we hold this excuse to be sacred and all-ending, there's always something we can do. If we can't do the big thing, that's no excuse to hold back on the little things.

Trying is hard. I'm tired...

You have to give yourself permission to take a step back. Sometimes we need to assess a situation, our wants, our needs, from another point of view. We might need a nap. We may need to re-evaluate. We may just be burnt out. Life happens to all of us. Give yourself some conditions, like sulk for two days and do (name an action) immediately after, even if I don't want to at the time. Don't feel bad about your vacation, and try to look forward to beating your own reluctance to take that action. Realize that if you do, you don't have to feel bad about needing your own time, and that puts less pressure from you onto yourself.

If you consider any trial a success or failure, make sure you learn something from it. If you need to be disppointed with yourself, make that disappointment count.

So, I've got some dreams to get to. Later on in life, I may regret not going for it sooner, but at least I won't regret not going for it.
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