What’s your dream?
Lately I’ve been working like a house on fire, trying to finish something I started years ago.
I’m not sure why, after letting it languish for so long, I decided it was time to get back to it.
Oh, wait. I remember. I kept reading obituaries for folks who were younger than I am. It made me realize the time to do it might be now or never.
If you don’t read the obits, you might want to start. They’re highly motivating.
This thing I want to finish is, of all things, a novel. Don’t ask me if it’s a good one. I have no idea. But I do think it’s a pretty good story — one worth telling and hearing — and I’m trying my dangdest to tell it well.
The reason I told you about it is not because I want you to buy it. You’ll be welcome to do so when I finish it. But that’s not likely to happen soon.
For now, I just want to share with you some of things that I’ve been realizing along the way.
I’m probably not the only soul on Earth who wants to finish something sooner, rather than later. Maybe you’d like to finish something, too? A project you’ve been thinking about. A place you’d like to visit. Something you’ve meant to say to someone you love, but never quite found the time, or the nerve.
Whatever it may be, I feel for you. It’s not easy to make a dream come true. Or even to try. But here, for what it’s worth, are a few things that have helped me get back to work. Maybe you will find them helpful, too.
1. I already mentioned reading obits. But I think the best way to start doing something you keep putting off is by asking yourself why do you want to do it?
The reason can be anything. Fame and fortune, or in my case, wanting people to quit nagging you about it. But in the end, the reason that will matter most to you is the realization that you want to do this fine thing for yourself; that you deserve to make your dream come true; and that you are, in fact, the only one who can.
2. Next, tell the people closest to you (or anyone who’ll care) that you’re starting it. Don’t tell them until you mean it, because they will promptly start to ask, “Aren’t you finished yet?”
But when you’re truly ready to start, tell them. Listen to their reactions. Ignore negativity. But take great heart in how happy it will make them to hear it.
I wish you could’ve heard the responses from my loved ones. My sister hadn’t hooted that loud since the day I bumped her in the bumper car arena and knocked her wig on the floor.
3. Telling people about it will also give you an excuse to say, “Sorry, I can’t help you now, I’m working on my dream.” Or words to that effect. You’ll know what to say. Just say it. Often.
4. Spend as much as time as possible working on it every possible day. Let go of things that can wait. Stop pretending you can do everything. If you think you can do everything, think again. Ask for help and take it. Work hard on your dream. Keep at day by day. If you do, you will know that you’ve given it your best. And our best is the best we can do.
5. Finally, don’t worry about the finished product. Just finish it. Dreams are like life, not a destination so much as a journey. Try to enjoy the ride.
Here’s one last thought: In a novel, the writer gets to choose, more or less, the beginning and the middle and the end.
In reality, we can’t choose how the story of our life will start. And most of us won’t choose when or how it will end.
But in the middle, there are choices that are ours alone to make. Some of them will lead to one of two ends: Lingering regret, or a dream come true.
What’s your dream? Go after an old one or dream up a new. Rewrite the story of your life.
(Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove, Calif. 93950 or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.)