Time, Space and Distractions – AKA Easy Excuses
One of the main things that gets in the way of us pursuing the Big Dream are excuses. We all make them, and after a while we actually start to believe them.
We convince ourselves that it couldn’t possibly be the right time in our lives to pursue something new and exciting because we simply don’t have the time, space, financing to put toward it. I don’t know anyone who has unlimited time and financial backing to pursue their dreams. Let’s face it, most of us are not wealthy and even fewer of us have those famous connections that make a dream happen over an afternoon latte.
Dreams are going to take work. They are not going to happen overnight. They are going to take us prioritizing our precious spare time and deciding that we would rather take those fifteen minutes while dinner bakes to take a baby step toward making our dream a reality than spend it surfing Facebook or Twitter.
We have to budget out the money to make it happen too. If classes or special tools are needed to pursue your dream, you have to set money aside each week to build up that little nest egg to allow you to take that class or buy that piece of equipment. You can’t assume that you will win the lottery, or find a rich old-money patron of the arts who will discover you while you are walking down the street.
Space is another great excuse. And it is a legitimate one if you are talking about needing a whole workshop filled with power tools. Not many homes have that kind of space lying around unused. But if you want to start training for a marathon, you do not need a private gym. You can start with a good pair of running shoes and a school track nearby. If you want to paint, you can designate a corner of the bedroom to your easel and keep your paints in a portable tool box so you can keep them close but tidy. I always thought I needed an office with a beautiful roll-top desk where I could sit and write. Not having that perfect space was a great reason why I didn’t write for years. Now that I have started to write, I find I get a lot more written while sitting in the middle of my busy life with a laptop.
One of the biggest and most prevalent excuses is distractions. We don’t even call them excuses; we are just hypnotized by them. You have a day off and you nap or watch a movie instead of working on a step toward achieving your dream. You find yourself watching reruns of a show you don’t even like instead of researching how to start your own business, or write a business plan. We get caught up in a great book, or decide to organize a lunch date with ten of our closest friends, instead of sitting butt in chair and putting words on paper. We need to carve out some precious time for your dreams and not squander it when it arrives.
I find the easiest excuse to fall prey to is the overachiever syndrome. I start thinking of all the things I would like to accomplish in the next year and bam next thing you know I am starting a publishing company, getting my first book “out there,” writing another, taking a class for work and passing another board exam, finishing a couple quilts, learning to play an instrument and oh, yeah, why not lose those extra pounds and get in shape as well!? My to-do list escalates exponentially and I wind up not accomplishing anything at all.
This happens on many weekends on a smaller scale. I realize I can carve out four to six hours of time to work on my dreams and start making plans. I end up so overwhelmed with what I want to accomplish in that time frame that I freeze and wind up taking a nap instead. I have too many things that I want to do and not nearly enough time to do them, so I don’t do anything. 😦 Unfortunately, great swaths of free time are not the answer. Ask anyone who has taken a few weeks off for the sole purpose of writing or painting. Often times I am sure they found themselves way too busy with the daily to-do list to actually pursue their goals. They were suddenly overcome by an uncontrollable urge to mop the floors, or clean out the attic. We tend to make whatever excuse we need to keep us from the scary stuff, and pursuing a dream we have been harboring for years and years and trying to bring it into light is scary stuff, indeed.
We need to cut ourselves a bit of slack while simultaneously holding ourselves to the task at hand. Take my writing, for instance, though any dream will do. I know that I want to create a publishing company and self-publish. I would love to get my first book out into the world within the year. I have read so many books and articles on doing these things and realize there are so many steps to the process. Whenever I think about it, my brain kind of shuts down from the daunting task ahead.
I need to break these huge tasks into bite sized pieces that can actually be accomplished in a week or a weekend. For example, I can research how to establish a DBA and set up a PO Box one week. The next week I can reach out to some of my online contacts and find out costs for editing and cover design. I can take a class on book formatting one month, and focus on final edits the next. By breaking down the huge task ahead into small achievable goals, I stand a much better chance of making forward progress instead of spending another week merely spinning my wheels.
One of my online writing friends is in a similar situation with her writing dreams and has asked that we be partners in reaching our goals. We have decided to touch base each week with what our weekly bite-sized goal is, and then later report on whether or not we finished it, what might have gotten in our way, and how we will approach it again to make it reachable. Sounds like such a simple idea, but I am very motivated to work with her and help us both make forward progress.
One thing I have learned is that sometimes all you need is a few steps in the right direction to get a thing rolling. A little forward progress, and you suddenly find you have momentum, which is an entirely bigger thing. 🙂
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