I’ll be hitting 50 next year. It’s the kind of milestone that raises a lot of questions. It’s also, thankfully, teaching me some life-lessons.
Aside from the many alarming truths that become apparent with maturing, such as not being able to eat donuts, having to exercise regularly, and needing to adopt a more all-embracing view of life, there is one practial piece of advice that I never tire of sharing. It lies at the very heart of my work…
We can’t wait for success to just happen.
I realize you may already know that, but I write this to myself as much as anyone else.
We can’t wait for our dreams to materialize out of thin air.
But just as much as anyone else, I need to be reminded that if I am going to live my dreams, then designing a life takes a certain kind of work.
And it’s a work that starts today.
I’ve discovered that our dreams have to become woven into the very fabric of our lives to such an extent that we don’t even think about it. It’s natural that my dream is part of my day. Why wouldn’t it be? Our vision of the future already is, in effect, already present.
In short, if you want to succeed in life (whatever success may mean to you) it needs to become a habit. Routine.
Life is fast these days. Weeks fly by, months dissolve into years, and we spend most of our time focused on just getting by. Work hard, keep busy, and next year, hopefully, things will be better.
I used to live like that and I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that I never want to go back to that. It doesn’t lead to anything except dissapointment and regret.
Instead of doing the same old thing day in and day out and expecting things to somehow work out, wouldn’t it make so much more sense to start making long-term dreams a part of our life now?
We all know we need a dream, but let’s start getting practical. Forget the word ‘dream’ just now and think instead in terms of how your future self will be living out the week, just a few years forward.
If we spend time imagining what our week could be like 5 or 10 years from now, it’s highly likely that the things you’ll be doing, the priorities in your day and how you go about your week will be very different to how things look right now.
For example, if you dream of being a successful author then writing is going to take up a large portion of your week 5 years in the future. You will probably have a strict routine you stick to — write each morning for 2 hours, take a break, write for another 2 hours. You make a living from your creative work, so you are discplined in your use of time. You even work when you don’t feel like it.
If you know where you’re headed (and it’s so very important that we do have a pretty good idea) then it’s vital to start incorporating that dream into your life now.
It’s all too easy to think that simply having a dream is enough to make it happen. It won’t, I assure you. No matter how hard we wish or pray or manifest, we still have to put the work in.
Unless you are playing the lottery, of course. If that’s the case you don’t need to read any further.
OK. I understand- you are probably not in a place right now where you can set aside 4 hours of your day for your creative work. But you can probably find one hour. If you’re serious (and you aren’t playing the lottery.)
Think about this: 1 hour of focused, intentional work on that thing you are passionate about, every day (I recommend taking a rest day each week) for the next 5 years…where is that going to take you?
I will tell you — it’s going to take you way beyond your current dreams.
When do you know if you’re there? How can you tell when you’ve arrived? That you are successful?
Isn’t it when you can see you are doing the things you always dreamed about?
This is the curious thing about success. It’s why so many chase it, but never catch it.
Because success is not something you arrive at.
It’s something you are.
And, incredibly, that can start today.
If only I could have seen success in this way years ago and incorporated into my life when I was younger.
When I’m doing today what I dream of doing “successfully” in the not-so-distant future, I know I’m on track.
There is a purposefulness to my life that was missing when I only hoped that things would someday get better.
There is a drive and energy that is there in the background of everything I do, causing me to be better in every way.