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The four steps to living your dreams

Because so many people who tell me their greatest aspirations don't go after them, I've come to realize that for most people this isn't as easy as Nike's "Just do it." There seem to be three steps before that one.

1. Figuring out what you really want to do
You already have crazy dreams of what you want to do and who you want to be. The challenge here is to pay attention to your dreams and not blow them off as impossibilities. You can do anything, but you have to be honest with yourself first. You must acknowledge your dreams and continually seek to refine them through reading and talking to people who can show you the way.

2. Confidently explaining it to everyone and their brother
Many people don't do what they really want because they can't deal with their parents, siblings, in-laws/loves/likes, teachers, friends, and everyone else constantly asking questions. If you say you're going to be or are a doctor or lawyer or banker, the gators will immediately approve. If you want to do something else, though, you better be ready to talk a good game. You have to demonstrate excitement and confidence. You have to teach the gators through simple stories and examples they can understand. And you have to end the conversation with a smile, because no matter how well you perform, some gators will never cease trying to make you feel stupid.

3. Paying for it
We all have to play the money game whether we want to or not. I believe that if you do what you love, you'll work harder at it and ultimately be rewarded very well. But sometimes, you won't earn much money in the beginning so you'll have to make tough decisions about what you have to have and what you can live without. You might have to sacrifice eating out every night to avoid sitting in a cubicle every day. You might have to gather the guts to ask someone who supports your dreams for help. Then again, depending on the work you do and the lifestyle you want, you might not have to sacrifice anything at all.

4. (Finally!) Doing it
I used to think this was the hard part--you know, taking action, executing plans. But now I think this step is the easiest of all. I haven't met many people who had all three steps above worked out and then didn't go after their dreams. If you get to this point, you know you've been through a lot already and you owe it to yourself to keep going without looking back. (But don't you always owe it to yourself to keep going, no matter what step you're stuck on? Aren't you worth it?)

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 28 November 2005