One of the biggest conflicts we face in life is whether or not to chase our dreams.
Do we pick practicality over passion? Should we play it safe or take a risk? The struggles Millennials face, such as a stunted economy and crushing student loan debt, is a recipe for cynicism.
Even before graduating high school, many Millennials are told, "It's hard out there, pick a sensible career." Dreams and aspirations are bittersweet. They are things we desire, but are also not guaranteed.
In contemplating our dreams and assessing the odds of them coming true, it's easy to get caught up in the “what ifs.” These what ifs are roadblocks that can prevent action. As time slips away, dreams remain dreams.
The first step for turning dreams into realities is to try to take action. Here are a few tips to get the ball rolling:
Manage your expectations.
It can be all too easy to get caught up in dreaming. Sometimes, we create perfect worlds in our heads — places where everything is as we perceive it should be.
Having expectations is part of having hopes and dreams, though it's crucial to manage your expectations. If you expect to have an ideal job, a six-figure salary and a swanky apartment all by age 25, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Wanting something is different than expecting it. If you want success, prepare to work for it and earn it. Condition yourself to be patient and to recognize that things may not turn out exactly as you pictured them. Still, this doesn’t necessarily equate to failure.
Focus on short-term goals.
We all have ideas about what the view is like from the finish line, and we all have personal definitions of success. Maybe it's a happy marriage, a big house or an expensive car.
Whatever it is, there are steps along the way to ensure you’re on track to get there. Ignoring the steps toward the big-picture goal makes the road leading to it feel a lot longer and more arduous than it probably is.
Instead, set short-term goals. If you want to save a certain amount of money by the end of the year, break it up by setting monthly goals. If you want to write a novel, see it through, chapter by chapter.
It will make the goal feel more attainable and you will be motivated by all of the small, albeit rewarding, milestones you hit.
Create a schedule.
Keeping a calendar on your desk, fridge or anywhere visible on a daily basis is a great way to remind yourself to stay on track. Mark important dates and events and write down future deadlines you want to hit.
The visual aspect of having a calendar or schedule is an important tool to have throughout the process of completing tasks and reaching goals.
There is something so satisfying about crossing something off of a list. Not deleting it from your phone or letting it pass on your Outlook calendar, but physically crossing something out or writing a sweet little checkmark next to it. It helps you to truly see your progress.
Use positive affirmations.
When discouraged, we often give in to our fears, insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. The challenge of going after our dreams can be daunting at times, but giving in to negativity opens the door to self-doubt: the enemy of productivity. When pursuing your dreams, it's imperative to stay positive.
Use positive affirmations and always be kind to yourself. Comfort yourself in difficult times as you would comfort a loved one. When things are going well, reward yourself with small, meaningful affirmations that make you feel good. When things aren't going well, don't punish yourself.
Make no excuses.
As much as you don't want to beat yourself up when things aren’t all smooth sailing, continue to be honest with yourself. If you missed a deadline or didn't meet a short-term goal because you were watching Neftlix or blowing money on clothes or out binge drinking, admit it, accept it and strive for better. Don't get stuck on it, but don't be in denial about it, either.
When you make excuses, you're only lying to yourself and getting in your own way. Nobody else is as invested in your dreams as you are. Nobody will accomplish something for you. If you want something to happen, you must make it happen. No excuses.
Don't give up.
Setbacks, struggles and disappointments are all part of life. Every happy and successful person will tell you that he or she endured a fair share of hardship. Nobody is immune to suffering.
Thomas Edison said, "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."
There is never an absolute guarantee for success. There is no promise that if you keep going and if you keep trying, your dreams will come true. But if you if give up, the odds of your success are slim to none.
If you persevere and things still don't pan out the way you hoped, you can at least be at peace with knowing that you gave it your all. Living with the regret of abandoning hope is a terrible burden.
Have faith that things will work out. If you stay proactive and positive, you will never fail.
Photo Courtesy: Tumblr