Over 1500 days ago, I resigned from my job, became self-employed and set out to fulfill the life I dreamed of. I wanted to start my own business; connect with my life's purpose; marry the man of my dreams; write a book; travel multiple times a year; and experience inner peace. These desires felt like they were bubbling inside of me. Then one day, I decided to do something about them.
Four years later, these dreams are my reality. Who I have become in the process, and what I've learned about my life are the most enriching pieces of the journey. Yet, what people want to know from me is, "did it all work out?", "how did you do it?", and "were you able to support yourself doing it?" To these questions, I typically answer "hell yeah", "read my book", and "of course."
But there's more. I have other experience to share with you...information that few people ever ask me about and I wonder why. These are the lessons that have helped me weather the storms and stay on track, when I had thousands of justifiable reasons to quit. These are the five things that I have learned while pursuing my dreams.
Playing it safe won't stop the pain. Trying to "figure it all out" before I act, or come up with plan B, C, and D in case plan "A" fails, won't stop me from experiencing difficulty and pain. It's usually a waste of precious time. I'm assuming that we all try to avoid discomfort by planning out multiple routes to any destination. What I have learned, is that no matter how many plans I make to minimize my pain, sometimes I just have to go through it. The quicker I do, the better. I evaluate my options, choose one of many courses and commit to it. The road to my dreams has included many emotional and psychological mountains no matter how much I try to avoid them. It's just part of the journey so I embrace the mountains. I always come out resilient on the other side, and am proud when I do. I'm beginning to think this is the point of life.
Unprecedented resistance is normal. Whether it's from my own thoughts, my parents, my best friends, or my partner, change comes hand in hand with resistance. Many of us talk about wanting a change, but when we're going through it, the claws come out and we want to hang on to what we have for dear life. I have learned to let go, and keep my energy focused on my goal. It's mighty uncomfortable, but discomfort can become comforting after a while. Internal and external resistance is unavoidable, so I make sure to nurture myself and be gracious with all involved when resistance shows up. Friendships have ended, new ones were made, I've been uncomfortable. Life goes on.
Expect to be called crazy, often. Maybe I am, maybe I'm not, who really cares anyway? I've discovered that crazy is just what people say about the things they can't understand or the things they don't have the courage to do themselves. It's a normal outcome of veering off the path of least resistance onto the road less travelled. I made peace with this word, and don't take it too seriously. In fact, I even embrace it and use it as fuel.
Grace and compassion go a long way. The power of these two words in action is unstoppable. I had a very hard time learning to shift 'being hard on myself' into 'being gracious and compassionate' with myself. It's possibly the most important of all my lessons learned over the past 1500 days. And it's still a work in progress. But through practice, I've noticed myself developing a reflex of grace and compassion. This alone fills me with energy and courage when I think I've run out, and empowers me to be loving to others who may stand in my way. Grace and compassion have helped me embrace my failures and mistakes, and connect more authentically with others. It's a vitamin that I can't live without while I pursue the life of my dreams.
It always comes down to me. I lost some friends to this belief, because it can be hard to hear. Fundamentally though, it all comes down to us. We have choices, we choose our reactions and responses to the stimulus in life, and we can always do things differently. I used to believe that life was happening to me and that if I was lucky, my actions and desires would work out. After four years of starting, running and growing a business and after 1500 days of building an incredible relationship with my now husband, I can see that it always comes down to my mindset and my choices. That's as overwhelming some days as it is empowering. The good news is, it's up to me and I can do something about it. I can do the personal development work to make my dreams my reality.
So what do you think? Any of this sound familiar? What do you want to add? I want to know about what you've learned along your journey. We all want to talk about our wins, but I'm more interested in getting to the heart of life, into who we're becoming and how we're being shaped on our roads to wherever. Let's talk. Leave your comments below.
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