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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 August 10, 2020

10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life

10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life

Are you stressed out and overwhelmed, wishing you had more time to do the things that really matter? Are you ready to do something better, something special in your life or your career?

If you’re ready to do what you want in life, then the 10 principles of success are what you need to follow.

You were born with a gift that no one else in the world can express like you. When you dance to your own music, you naturally develop your innate abilities and excel in work and life. You are a total rock star. But when you live someone else’s idea of who you should be, it throws off your groove.

Many people—maybe you—stopped following their dreams way too early in life because their talents were ignored, minimized, or shamed. They didn’t have the chops to win an American Idol competition or nab an Olympic gold medal, so they stopped expressing their inborn gifts altogether.

You don’t need to be an award winner to rock your life. Living your dream life is about discovering your superpowers and feeling vibrant and joyful when you use them. It’s about owning what makes you unique and finding like-minded people to support you.

Here are 10 success principles to help you live a rich and rewarding life on your terms that have worked with thousands of people in my workshops and will work for you, too.

1. Get a Hobby to Move Closer to Your Dreams

If you never became a professional dancer or a world-renowned author, it does NOT mean you should stop dancing or writing! These activities make you come alive, even if you “only” do them as favorite pastimes.

Engaging in a hobby is one of the most important success principles you can follow to move closer to your dreams.

When you try something creative for the first time or in a long while, you begin to see opportunities at work and in life that you were unaware of before. You also feel happier and more energized, according to a recent study from New Zealand.[1]

Some of my most burned-out executive clients reinvigorated their careers by discovering a creative outlet that refueled them after the workday ended. Research at San Francisco State University shows that having a hobby lowers stress and helps you succeed at work.[2]

So, give yourself permission to try new things and revisit old passions you gave up long ago. Setting aside just one hour a week for personal exploration can significantly change your life.

Who knows? Your creative outlet could transform into a thriving business or lead to a new profession down the road.

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2. Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

Did you know that you are more likely to succeed when you develop your natural strengths rather than work on your weaknesses? The problem is that you probably don’t know where your true talents lie.

Here are a few options to help you discover your unique strengths. You can:

  • Take the VIA Character Strengths Survey[3]
  • Try Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment[4]
  • Answer a few Superpower Questions

Once you understand what makes you tick, you can use these skills at work and your personal life to get more done in less time. If you boost your unique abilities through practice and study, you can accelerate your career and become a leader in a field that matters to you. It’s worth investing in yourself this way.

3. Jumping off a Cliff is NOT Required

Here’s the deal: most people are too afraid to change. When participants first come to my workshops, they tell me they have mouths to feed, bills to pay, and fear that if they follow their dreams, someone will get hurt.

The old saying “leap and the net shall appear” does not comfort them. Because they are hesitant to plunge into the unknown, they believe their only option is to stay put where they are in life. Can you relate?

You do not have to sacrifice the life you have now to start a new one. I was a psychology professor by day and singer by night for years before I transitioned into a full-time music career.

Just take a little time out each week to do what enlivens you through a hobby, volunteer work, etc. Get a feel for it.

Is it what you really want? If so, increase the time you spend doing it and make the transition when the time feels right.

4. Give Your Inner Critic Some Love

The main culprit that keeps you from stepping outside your comfort zone and getting the life of your dreams is KCRP or K-CRAP – the radio station that plays 24/7 in your head. The moment you try to do something interesting with your life it slaps you down with such chart-topping killer hooks as “Who do you think you are?” and “You’ll never be good enough!”.

Have you ever noticed that KCRP’s mean-spirited DJ sounds like your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures who shut you down creatively? These folks don’t need to stifle you any longer (although they often still do) because your inner critic does it for them. That keeps you stuck in a rut.

To break free, try thinking of this DJ as a gruff old grandfather who gives you crap to keep you safe. Remember, this grumpy grandpa is woefully out of touch with the times. So, his stern opinions don’t really matter much, do they? Give him a pat on the back for his good intentions, and put your focus back on what makes you come alive.

This success principle will give you the courage to venture into the unknown where you can dance to the beat of your own drummer.

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5. Embrace Your Inner Self

Many of us don’t go after our dreams because we’re afraid folks will find out how odd or strange we are. But our little eccentricities often turn out to be our greatest strengths. Yes, it’s good to be quirky.

Odds are, you lost track of your true passions and talents before you were even old enough to know you were getting off-track. You became slowly “adulterated” by learning to:

  • Take on family roles that don’t match who you really are.
  • Spit back what teachers taught you in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original.
  • Hide parts of yourself that don’t seem acceptable to certain social groups.

The price for fitting in is that you may wind up leading a life that doesn’t fit you all that well. Your true calling becomes clear when you embrace what makes you different from others and allow yourself to stand out from the crowd, even if it feels awkward. Often, the very qualities you view as your flaws are your greatest gifts.

Here’s How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment.

6. See the Bigger Picture to Find Your True Calling

I cannot stress the importance of this success principle enough. Your true calling is right in front of you. But you may miss it because you’re looking for it in the wrong place.

To “see” it clearly, try widening your point of view.

Case in point: Maria felt she needed to retire early from being a police detective, so she could travel abroad. I encouraged Maria to think of ways that she could continue to serve as a law enforcer (a career she loved) and travel overseas at the same time.

A few months later, Maria landed a job with the United Nations in Bosnia training the local police force to understand and embrace human rights procedures.

Like Maria, you are an everyday rock star capable of accomplishing greater things than you can imagine. Is what you’re looking for right in front of you, too? Do you have an inkling of what it may be?

Look beyond your day-to-day activities, your current job, and even the town you live in. View your life from an eagle’s perspective and be open to new possibilities.

7. Try a Little Wish-List Magic

Pretend I’m your fairy godmother and I give you permission right now to be your most magnificent self. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy. Write it down on a wish list.

Get quiet. Be honest. Think big.

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What would you like your career, your relationships, your health, your finances, and your spiritual life to be like? Jot down enough details so that your wishes seem tangible to you. Then, look at this list every morning before you start your day and every night before you go to sleep.

Sounds silly? It’s not. It works! Permitting yourself to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to manifesting it.

8. Take Breaks to Get Clues About Your Ideal Future

Did you know that working straight through to a deadline leads to diminishing returns? Research shows that taking a break for 15 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes can help you recharge, refresh your focus, and get more done in less time.[5]

Wait, it gets better! A Stanford study shows that walking increases your creative output increases by 60 percent. Doing repetitive activities such as walking, running, riding your bike, swimming, and sweeping allow solutions to problems to pop into your mind out of nowhere.[6]

What does this success principle have to do with creating your dream life?

These mini-breaks allow you to get vital clues for what to do next to attain your ideal future. Plus, you won’t waste precious time and energy getting lost in other people’s agendas.

9. Take Action on Your Inspired Ideas

Once an inspired thought pops into your mind, take action.

This is one of the most powerful success principles for turning your dreams into reality; the sooner the better. Whatever it is—from calling an old friend to taking a new route home—be sure to do it!

Pay attention to your oddball hunches. You need to go after what you want, not just dream about it. As comedian Jim Carrey warns,

“You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”

10. Count Your Rockstar Moments

Still not sure you have what it takes to get your dream life? This final success principle is guaranteed to help.

Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished. As you read back through it, put a star next to each item, and let it sink in.

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You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good you’ll feel about yourself afterward. You’ll also see how effective you’ve been in the past at getting what you want. You’ve succeeded before, you can succeed again.

You already rock. You just need to own it. Trust me, you’ve got this!

Final Thoughts

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Following these success principles will help you find the time and energy to do the things that really matter and live with clear intention.

By spending just one hour a week doing something you love, focusing on your strengths and achievements, embracing what makes you different, and acting on inspired ideas, you can create a life that is a perfect fit for you, step-by-step.

If you don’t have a clue about what your dream life could look like yet, don’t worry. Your heart knows. It has been “talking” to you for a long time. It’s just being muffled by KCRP, buried under a lot of “shoulds” and fear.

This article can also help you figure out the life you truly want to live: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up.

Stand still, get quiet, and listen. It’s constantly telling you what you need to do to realize your own rockstar potential. It may be just a whisper now, but the more you pay attention to it, the louder it will get, and the easier it will be to follow.

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Featured photo credit: Rahul Dey via unsplash.com

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