I’m a bit of a book reading fiend and love to study up on how others have reached their dreams and goals. There are a few things about these kind of books that make me a bit cross, though.
One is the ‘Positivity Police’ aspect. Telling people to be positive. All. The. Time. This is just silly – but perhaps needs a post all of it’s very own!
The one I keep seeing recently is that reaching your dreams should be ‘easy’.
You should feel WONDERFUL EVERY DAY on the way to your dreams. It’s just simple, you go with the flow and don’t push yourself. If it feels yukky, you’re on the wrong track.
Now, I agree that over-pushing and grasping for things isn’t the way to go about having a happy life. But if you are expecting it to feel good & easy all the time, you’re going to become one of those people.
You know the ones I mean – who are always starting a new project, all fired up, then dropping it when it gets boring or hard work, or something a bit more interesting comes up. Who have started a gazillion small businesses, or projects, and then abandoned them after a few months.
Here’s the thing. I set about changing my life quite a few years ago now, leaving the 9 – 5 grind to pursue my vision of creating an arts cafe, becoming a teacher of creativity and an artist. It’s been a wondrous, wild adventure, fun, intense and rewarding beyond my craziest imaginings.
It has not, however, been easy.
Sometimes, things flow and what you need just falls into your lap with a satisfying thud. Other times, it’s challenging, makes you want to pull your hair out and scream and perhaps stamp your foot a little.
Creating something takes hours of really rather boring slog, interspersed with amazing highs and a few really terrifying lows. Like the time the fire department closed off our top storey because we didn’t have a fire alarm, or the time the police marched in and stopped us showing a film. Or the time the basement flooded and we spent Good Friday night bailing out the smelly water………oh and it was smelly……
What I’ve learnt is that it isn’t always easy, nor should it be. Things that are worth having *cost something*.
This is a fact we are shielded from, with our underpriced consumer goods and generally privileged lives here in the Western World. If you want something worth having, you are going to have to put some hard graft into the equation. You are going to have to wait for stuff, and you’re certainly going to have to give stuff up.
The real reason many people aren’t living their dreams is that they haven’t put the work in to get there. Simple as that. You can read all the self-help books in the world, and vision boards, and workshops – but if you don’t do the work, you will never get the results. Some of the work is going to be a bit yukky. A lot of it is massively fun and uplifting. Some of it is challenging and some will bore you silly.
Books that help you identify the work you need to do are my favourite kind. I also favour books that encourage and inspire, without kidding you or making you feel like you’re a failure because you work hard, or that a bad day means you’re on the wrong path in life.
Maybe the books don’t always say that because hard slog isn’t very sexy and doesn’t sell books.
Sometimes the books mean that working for your dream is easy compared to the alternative of a wasted life (true). Or that, as you move ahead, it makes sense to delegate the stuff you don’t enjoy so much to others (it does, you know, it took me a while to work that one out). Or that ‘work’ for your own dreams often doesn’t really feel like work at all (it often doesn’t).
When you find the thing you really, really want to do, the hard stuff feels radically different. You find you can deal with more than you thought you could. Things that would have been insurmountable before become regular challenges you just deal with like a superhero.
Some days, though, you want to chuck it all in and go back to ‘normal’ life. The responsibilities involved in taking charge of your own life can weigh heavily on the strongest set of shoulders. You have to become your own cheerleader, take the pot-shots of jealous people and take risks when people are telling you not to. You don’t get much time off at first and success is not instant.
You also have to learn the difference between hard work that’s needed, and hard work that’s just happening because you think you should be working hard. You have to know when to stop even though you love what you’re doing so much you don’t want to.
Not everyone around you is going to think what you’re doing is great and you’re going to lose a few friends when you stop calling them regularly because you are knee deep in a VAT return or end of year report, or your roof just sprung a leak, or your website is down (business disasters have absolutely no respect for your social life at all).
But it’s so very worth it. So very, very worth every bucket of smelly water, every hater on facebook, every late night, every stressful day, every impossible spreadsheet, every blocked toilet, every refused invitation from friends, every scary bank balance, every missed holiday, every hungover meeting with the landlord (don’t ask!).
Worth it and then some.
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