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7 Harsh Truths of Living Your Dream

7 Harsh Truths of Living Your Dream

I pretty much live my dream – I really do. Despite how much I bitch and complain, I get to live in the most fashionable neighborhood of the most fashionable city on earth and make my living in the music industry. What more could a long-haired kid obsessed with Black Sabbath want? That being said – there is a reason I sometimes feel like I have to complain, and it’s not just because I’m a depressed maniac – there is a lot more to living your dream than just the thin veneer of late nights at extravagant parties and working from home.If you’re building towards living a dream you have to be able to accept certain grim realities that are a key part of what makes this such a challenge.

1.  It’s not always fun

One thing that really gets my goat is people who say “Wow – you must be living the perfect life!”  And I mean yeah… to some degree I see where they are coming from – from the outside looking in a lot of peoples lives seem ideal. Part of our daily struggle is keeping up a brave face. To live your dream you have to face a lot of day to day challenges that make this life worth living. The fact that it isn’t fun is part of the point of life – if things came east what would be the point?

Life is hard – and it’s not meant to be fun all the time. The idea that it should be is both a crazy pipe dream and a weird millennial lie. While we definitely are right in working for a better tomorrow (and I never will stop doing just that) I don’t necessarily believe that we are doomed to misery – I also think we need to accept that living your dream can involve some meaningless tasks. For every company you run, there will always be tons of background work that needs to be handled.

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2. You Have To Keep Pushing

There is a saying “When one door closes another opens” and in many ways this has become one of those weird rallying cries of my life. Eventually you learn it’s hard to screw up so hard that you end up having no recourse. If you have what it takes to live your dream, then you have to have what it takes to push forth no matter the consequences, and be bold in your trials and tribulations.

Part of what makes people want to hire you and work with you, especially in what one might think of as ‘dream jobs’ is when you prove your dedication. If you can show that time and time again you kept on doing what you loved in order to help build towards the future you want then people will respect you. When they see your dedication they will immediately become more open to working with you. In this way – the challenge of living your dream is part of what makes living your dream possible. It shows you have what it takes and keeps you driving forward.

3. There will always be struggles

The basic truth is that in this life there will always be ups and downs – that’s just how it goes. Having that hunger is a part of what makes us successful in the first place. But you need to remember that there will always be setbacks. Regular readers know that I dropped out of college to pursue this, and while I’m pretty happy with the decision, let me assure you, nothing is more depressing than receiving a harsh financial blow and then getting an email with the subject line “It’s never too late to go back to college!”

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But this isn’t about my distinctly sad life. It’s about something greater – that is to say, the knowledge that we live in a world where we are going to face challenges in the day-to-day. Living your dream usually implies quite a bit of risk, and most us embrace that. But of course, because there is risk, sometimes important or cool opportunities will fall through and we are left wondering if we really made the right choice. And that’s fine!

4. Sometimes You Have To Settle

Part of the struggle is knowing when you have to compromise. Knowing when to settle and be willing to accept that as part of living your dream is hard, but it’s part of what it takes if you really want to go forward. No one wants to have to give up on any one aspect of their goals – but unfortunately not everything comes free or easy in this world. Maybe you can afford to launch your startup but you can’t hire all your friends right away? That’s fine – You still have a start-up!

Here’s the thing – settling becomes a lot easier to come to terms with when you count your blessings and realize exactly what you have done thus far. It gives you a chance to go “Wow – I actually have come pretty far!” And from that you are a lot more able to realize that a sacrifice or two here and there isn’t really that big a deal? Why? Because you’re building towards something greater – and if the greater reality you’re building towards remains more or less complete albeit with a few compromises then you’re still doing a great job!

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5. It Can Take Over Your Life Without You Realizing It

This is one that I certainly have struggled with and one that I’ve had to come to terms with in recent weeks. Sometimes – you have to distance yourself a little bit from your dream. People like me have a tendency to get obsessive, at this point I would say 12-13 of my 16 or so waking hours are spent working on music related things. I think it’s pretty obvious to see that this doesn’t allow for a lot of ‘free time’ where I can do things that aren’t music. You have to have hobbies outside of your dream in order to make it feasible. For me these things have been reading, running and cooking, they give me a much needed break from the day-to-day insanity.

You need to be careful when you start going all out for your dream – it’s a scary thing to do and messing up could be risky if not for your life then for your soul. Remaining interested in things outside of your passion is crucial if you want to continue to be able to grow as an individual.

6. You Start To Wonder If This Is What You Wanted The Whole Time

There is no shortage of people who decided to give up and turn their back on he dream because they realized it wasn’t really what they wanted. I’ve always wondered if I was doomed to be one of those people. After all – I’m fighting with all my strength for a very hard to achieve goal that seems doomed to leave me wanting more. Am I really able to keep driving this forward?

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Then you remember – there is a reason you wanted this. You wanted this because it provided a way out from a world you don’t think you want to be a part of. While yes, there are comfortable lives to be had – you have to think, how do you want to be remembered? In my mind at least, it is far better to be dashed upon the rocks than to sit on the shore staring at the surf. If you poured a lot of time and energy into this, then it suggests that there was something you wanted from it, something worth building towards, and thus something you would have really wanted. If you change your opinion that’s okay, but remember, in the end it pays off.

7. Once You Reach The Top Of The Mountain – Keep Climbing

There is no upper limit to what you are capable of – I sincerely believe that. While it’s nice to rest on your laurels, that’s exactly what breeds complacence and makes it harder to drive forth for a better tomorrow. Climbing the mountain is what we all have to do if we want to live our dream – and it’s never going to be easy. As you get higher there is rarefied air and more dangers at every turn, but that just makes being at the top even better.

But never be satisfied – I sincerely hope that the curse of those who truly live their dreams has. No matter what, it is never enough. There is always a new level – a new goal, a new achievement. This life is not meant for those who want to be happy with little. No matter what – the minute you decide you are satisfied is the minute your dreams start to slow down. Look for new dreams and realize that though this is hard – it is always worth it.

Featured photo credit: Nicolas Raymond via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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