How to Live Your Dreams

[Note: This is the 4th and final article in the series How to Make Your Dreams a Reality.]

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. — Henry David Thoreau

So, now that you’ve created a dream sanctuary, stopped doing what works, and found your purpose, it’s time to start laying the foundation for your dreams. The reason I wanted to go through those articles first before getting to this part is because of an important distinction between people that accomplish their dreams and those that don’t.

The people that accomplish their dreams realize the obstacles between them are not physical limitations, but psychic ones. They’ve overcome the social conditioning that’s told them their dreams are impossible or frivolous. They’ve discovered their true purpose and their passion. And they’ve found a place to keep their dreams safe, while they strive toward making them a reality.

Doing all of these things has enabled them to develop the auto response of determination to make their dreams happen. It’s not easy striving day after day to make your dreams happen when the final realization seems so far away. But even when you reach the manifestation you set out to accomplish, you realize something:

The life of your dreams that you set out for was only a shadow of a possibility.

What you thought was a 10, was really a 7. But it doesn’t really matter because realizing your dreams is not a linear process. It’s not necessarily the full accomplishment of your dreams that’s most important, but the constant movement in the direction of your heart.

When you see this, you’ll find that living your dreams is not so much a destination to be reached, but a consistent motion in that direction. You might have to move from working at a job you hate, to one you kind of like, before you find one that you love. And that’s okay, because you’re moving in the direction of liberation. It’s when you settle for less than you know possible that your dreams die.

Now that we know that living our dreams is more of a movement, how do we start making them a reality? How do we create a launchpad for our dreams to take flight?

So far, we’ve found mental tools necessary to fulfill our dreams. But this means nothing unless we put these tools to work. To do that, we have to start laying the foundation for our dreams. However you choose to do this will depend on what your dreams is.

Laying the foundation.

I have a lot of different dreams, but my main goal right now is to support myself through writing. That means making enough of a living writing in this blog (or for other sources) that I can quit my day job. In order to make this a reality I had to… oh wait… I’ll let you guess.

Yes… I had to start writing! I had no idea, really, how to write before. I’d always been an avid reader, but had not often laid pen to paper. So, I had to start somewhere. I started this blog (well, it was originally jonathanmead.com) and I started writing. I emulated other blogger and author’s writing styles that I liked. I read On Writing Well, How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead, and The Elements of Style. I also read some marketing books, like The Purple Cow, Made to Stick and The Copywriter’s Handbook. This was the start of the foundation for my dreams.

Now let me tell you one thing: Starting out can be very frustrating. Because when doing something for the first time, you’ll most likely suck. Go ahead and check out the archives of some of my first posts. They weren’t pretty.

After you get past that initial oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-I-just-created-this-crap stage, things start to look up. You’ll know you’ve gotten there when you look at your work and it no longer makes you have violent feelings or suicidal tendencies.

The next stage you to get to is what I like to call the “long haul.” This is where you test your metal. This is the part of the game where you find out if you’ve really got it in you to go through with this. Every 6 months or so I, do a 10 day fast of only maple syrup, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and cayenne pepper mixed with water; also known as The Master Cleanse. The first few days I’m usually psyched. But after the 3rd or 4th day I’m wondering if I really want to go through with this. This is the time where my will is tested and I have to exercise my self-discipline muscles. I could either cave in and go eat some potato chips and a brownie, or I can tough it out and zen myself into it.

That zenning yourself, sticking with it, or toughing it out is exactly what the long haul takes. The period of time it takes after you lay your foundation, to the time when your dreams are realized, will vary depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. But it will be there, teasing you, taunting you. Waiting for you to give up. Now is the time to suck it up and show the world what you’re made of. This is the time where you have to develop the auto response of determination. This is the time to figure out how to push yourself to get

through it, or to just give up.

The art of starting.

Fortunately, there’s a way you can develop the auto response of toughing it out. It’s the art of thinking small and acting big. But more importantly, it’s using thinking small to develop the art of the start.

The art of the start is developing the auto response of simply starting. Not thinking about the 180 pages left in the book you want to write. Not thinking about the 6 semesters you have left before you get your bachelor’s in art history. Not minding the 2,000 feet you have to climb before you get to the top of the mountain.

Whenever I’m having trouble doing something I either need or want to get done (even if it’s something I enjoy), it’s because I’m focusing on how much effort it will take to be completed. I’ve instead developed the habit of simply starting on things. I don’t commit to riding 5 miles, I just commit to getting the wheels turning.

If you can make just starting on working toward your dreams a habit, each day, you can get through the long haul.

Helping others.

This isn’t a requirement, but it’s something I feel has helped me accomplish my dreams much faster. And that’s helping others on the path to their dreams. Following your heart and ignoring the naysayers can be a lonely road after all. It helps to have some company along the way. What better way to gain support than by helping others? What better way to stay inspired than by inspiring other people? What better way to learn something than to teach it?

Summary:

  1. Create a dream sanctuary. An asylum for your dreams, a safe place for your deepest aspirations and ridiculous goals to thrive.
  2. Don’t do what works. Do what works for you.
  3. Find your purpose.
  4. Start laying the foundations to your dreams. Remember that the life of your dreams is not a destination to be reached, but a consistent movement toward your highest potential.
  5. Master the art of starting. Don’t commit to finish, just commit to start all the time.
  6. Help others realize their dreams.

On a final note, remember that your dreams need to be grounded in reality. You need to have roots. You need to eat your eggs before you fly. But just like you need roots and a healthy dose of practicality, you also need wings. Yes, you need to be kind of like a flying tree. =)

PS: There’s this really cool program called The Dream Wizard. You can use the program to input your personal dreams and it will remind you of them at whatever interval you set. You can also select different intentions and aspirations from sets of templates. I highly recommend that you check it out, to fast track yourself to making your dreams a reality.

Check it out here: The Dream Manifestation Wizard

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Vered - MomGrind November 4, 2008 at 9:03 pm

“Go ahead and check out the archives of some of my first posts. They weren’t pretty.” I smiled when I read this. I feel the same.

I enjoyed this article. I like the way you simply and clearly state your goal: supporting yourself through writing. I also like that you are a practical dreamer. Turns out it’s possible. Who knew.

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Daniel Richard November 5, 2008 at 12:07 am

Yeah Jon you are right on this about the art of starting.

To add into the entry there, apart from helping others, sometimes we do need to get a little bit of nudging from our close friends to actually set our first foot into where we can walk in the reality created from our dreams.

I’ve seen your writings appearing on ZenHabits while you’ve developed quite a massive following here on your own Illuminated Mind site. Awesome job done for ya. :D

@Vered – Jon’s surely a practical dreamer! No doubt about that. :)

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Kathy November 5, 2008 at 3:51 am

Thanks for an encouraging article. You are right on spot about the art of the start and how many of us never start because we focus on how difficult it will be. The sad truth is that we let our desire for a huge easy button stall our dreams. Finding that determination once you’ve started is key. I’ve realized two dreams so far that seemed improbable when they first became desires and now I’m working on the next.

Right there with you and Vered about how you feel about your first posts. I’m at that “just start writing” phase you described – but we have to begin somewhere and the best way to achieve excellence is through practice.

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Vincent November 5, 2008 at 5:51 am

When we think of starting instead of finishing, it tends to help us to kick start something. Totally agree with that.

Cheers
Vincent
Personal Development Blogger

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Oktober Five November 5, 2008 at 8:42 am

So, I didn’t read your post before about the dream sanctuary, but I’m loving it now. That’s such a great idea.

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Adrilia November 5, 2008 at 8:52 am

Jonathan,

Great article; excellent advice. Love the Thoreau quote, your emphasis on the joy and treasures in the journey … and your notes on “getting started” … getting the wheels turning rather than setting out to do 5 miles. There’s no question in my mind you will soon be more-than-making-a-living as a writer. Best wishes and thanks for sharing your purpose and your passion.

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jessica November 6, 2008 at 5:49 am

Hey Jonathan,

Thanks for another inspiring post. I missed your articles for a while there! Sorry to hear about the wordpress disaster, and thanks for the “push” to get real and keep striving for the dream… :)

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Stephen November 9, 2008 at 3:08 am

“The people that accomplish their dreams realize the obstacles between them are not physical limitations, but psychic ones.”

Too true. I also like that you point out that living our dreams is not a destination. I don’t think there are any destinations in life. Only flow. There is only trending. For example I may be trending towards great health, strength and fitness or I might be trending towards sinking into negativity or inaction.

Interesting that you do the Master Cleanse. I’ve done it a number of times over the last few years and always am rewarded for my self-discipline and perseverance.

Stephen

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Chris Edgar November 10, 2008 at 4:58 pm

Thanks for this post. Remembering that I’m contributing something to other people with what I do is essential to sticking with it — I liked it that you made that observation. If I don’t stay focused on that I can sometimes lose track of why I’m working and get bogged down in small details or procrastinate. — Best, Chris

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B. Wilde November 10, 2008 at 9:33 pm

I think the reason dream creating is so criticized is because of the lack of understanding regarding the foundation that must be placed underneath. I really like how you incorporated this concept into the series. It also makes me think how we can’t allow others’ criticism of our castles in the air bring us down. We just have to have the wisdom to keep dreaming and then give it a strong foundation. This gave me a lot to think about.

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Kate November 14, 2008 at 2:40 pm

To realize your dreams you need to stop listening to negative friends and family members.
My dream/goal was to build my own home and be mortgage free,thus giving myself a huge amount of freedom.
Everyone had negative comments to make, when we(my husband and I),announced our plans.
It’s hard to go on without support,with everyone expecting/waiting for you to fail, but we did and now we have a nice home, that was a lot of work, but oh so worth it.
We also wanted to home school our children and faced massive opposition on that front too. We ignored it and have a great family set up and outstanding academic acheivement from the kids.
Follow what you know is right for you,never mind what anyone else says!

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Trevor Jordaan November 9, 2010 at 10:47 pm

your structured manner in putting teh information togethert is absolutely GREAT

i am currently persuing my dream and have actioned activities that will enable me to reach a destination that seemed to be pretty impossible
but as you say correctly – one will not get there if you are not willing to break out of your own created perceptions………..

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SalVasquez July 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm

great article

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