Have you ever thought about what life will be like once you achieve your dreams? Maybe you've daydreamed about completing a degree, starting a business, or getting a book deal. They all sound great, and it's easy to fantasize how good life will be once we get there. Believe me. I know. I used to fantasize about how settled my life would be once I defended my dissertation. And after I got through that, I thought earning my Ph.D. would give me the ultimate satisfaction. Once that was behind me, I concluded that I would finally be at peace once I became a licensed psychologist. I didn't see the pattern. There was always a hoop to jump through, and I wasn't good at being content while going through the process. I was awful at it.
Now graduate school seems like a distant memory, and although I wasn't quit sure what my career would look like, I never imagined that I would find new dreams to chase--I mean really big ones. I'm currently in the midst of developing a consulting business and it's the same process all over again-- the process of pushing to see my ideas come to life and blossom.
But of course, new goals don't necessarily mean new habits, and I've caught myself repeating the same old patterns-- being so focused on the goal that I fail to be happy and content during the process. So to put a stop to all of that, I've used my intellect to overcome my emotional limitations (something I always tell my client to do) and came up with five ways to be happy while chasing those grand dreams. Hopefully you'll find it helpful. Here it goes...
1. Write down what you want your future self to say about you. Imagine your 85-year-old self. What do you want her (or him) to say about you at your age? With all that hard work you put in, wouldn't it be a shame to look back and think wow, I was never really happy. Your time is a precious commodity, something you'll never get back. So be conscious about acting in ways that will make your 85-year-old self look back and smile. Don't let negativity steal your joy and ultimately your life.
2. Refuse to follow your feelings. It's so easy, and even euphoric, to fantasize about the rewards that come along with accomplishing goals. But unfortunately, the daily grind of making it happen can turn even the toughest of us into procrastinators at least some of the time. The trick is to ignore feelings that make us want to procrastinate, and make the first move. That first move doesn't have to be anything grand. It could be as simple as sitting down at your desk, or putting pen to paper and writing down a few words. You'll be surprised how a simple act can give you the impetuous to start doing what you may not feel like doing.
3. Listen to the encouraging words of others. There's a lot of negativity out there and people can keep you from accomplishing your goals if you let them. They might even mean well, but sometimes people have a way of distracting us with their own drama. On the other hand, there are people who can relate to where you are in life and have a lot to say about your journey. These people can be great sources of inspiration, and give you the lift you need to feel good about maneuvering through the process, even when the process doesn't feel so good. I'm a very spiritual person and love to listen to preachers and speakers who reinforce my faith in God and the life He has destined for me.
4. Put those encouraging words into action. Encouraging words may give us an emotional boost, but after a while simply listening to others gets stale. That's because the words have to be put into action. When we rely too much on others to get us through, it may feel good in the moment, but there are no long term changes in us or the way we go about dealing with challenges. So to avoid being overly reliant on others, be sure to apply what you hear to your life until it becomes a habit. This means rejecting old habits and making a conscious decision to do what may not come natural (like not following your feelings).
5. Force yourself to enjoy the rewards along the way. Yes, I mean force. Most of us have heard that it's important to reward yourself for the little things along your journey. But many of us give lip service and say we'll do it, yet never do. I think it may be because it is so far removed from what we are used to doing, and rewarding ourselves just takes up too much time--but it doesn't have to. It's more about having an appreciative mindset than it is about tangible rewards. You can reward yourself just by feeling proud that you've accomplished one or two things off of your to-do list. Think of it as practice for when you achieve those bigger accomplishments. If you don't learn to be happy with the little accomplishments, despite the setbacks along the way, you won't be happy with the big ones because there are always going to be new goals to conquer.
Know that being happy through the process doesn't mean feeling happy all the time. It's more about being content with your life, with YOU, through the good, the bad, and the ugly. And really, this is the ultimate accomplishment, because what's better than looking back and knowing you were happy.
What do you think about these five ways? How do you cope with career challenges or obstacles to fulfilling your dreams? Feel free to share them here. ♥
*All images by Truly blog