What are dreams? Dreams, to me, mean our desire to do something, have something or be somewhere we are not right now. Dreams could be anything from dreaming of getting a new job, to traveling the world, starting your own business or maybe getting that perfect summer bikini body. Achieving dreams require a lot of work and that’s why for most people they just stay…dreams. But how can you turn those dreams into a reality? Most of them can be achievable by dedication, persistence, hard work, and setting priorities.
One of the most important factors that go into achieving your dreams is dedication. Without dedication, it’s easy to let other things distract us from our goals. It’s easy to come home after a long day of work, sit on the couch watching reality TV or browsing social media apps for updates on our friends’ lives and let our minds rest from the long day. According to The Telegraph, the average person spends 1 hour and 40 minutes on social media apps per day. On top of that, the average American spends 5 hours watching TV per day. That’s over 6.5 hours a day that could easily be better spent bettering ourselves and following our dreams! BUT it requires a LOT of dedication to go to the gym during lunch instead of browsing through social media, go rock climbing instead of heading to happy hour, work on a side business instead of watching tv, or make travel plans instead of watching a game. In order to stay on track with our dreams, the dream has to come before everything else, and often that can be the hardest part.
It’s important not to fall victim to the “dream” phase, so go out there and actively try to achieve your dream! I spent so much time dreaming about traveling but after years of dreaming, I realized that my dream will never come true if I don’t actively dedicate my time to achieving it. That dedication helped me leave my job, move to Portland and spend endless hours planning my travel trips. Without that dedication, I would still be sitting at my 9-5 desk looking at a desktop of a mountaintop instead of actually being there. We all have the same 24 hours in our day and it’s up to us to decide how we want to spend our time and what we want to accomplish in our lives.
If you are struggling with this part, it’s ok. Many of us are. Sometimes we need to force ourselves to dedicate our time to achieving our dreams whether that means cutting out cable or installing apps like Checkyapp to monitor our social media and email usage. We are addicted to time wasters and unless we can force ourselves to cut them out, it can be hard dedicating our time to accomplishing our dreams and goals.
Similar to the dedication, persistence is another key factor in going after your dreams. Without persistence, most people give up on their dreams if they do not achieve some immediate reward. For example, have you gone on a diet and given up after a few days, weeks or months because you didn’t get the results you were expecting? Each year, millions of Americans make a New Year’s resolution to get into better shape. The reality is that on average, a woman gives up on a diet after just five weeks. Ask any fitness expert and they will always tell you that body transformations take years and tremendous dedication and persistence.
When we first think of achieving a dream, an unstoppable desire takes over us. We can’t sleep, can’t stop thinking about it, can’t stop working on it…at least for a few weeks or months. That desire slowly starts to burn out for most people and we just simply give up. And most of us give up right before we become great at it! We start thinking “It was really fun, but it’s taking too much time, so it’s not worth it anymore”. Or “This is taking away my time from seeing my family/friends/spouse”. Or simply, we get bored because we don’t see any quick results.
What helps me stay on track with my dreams is setting short-term, measurable goals that are reasonably achievable. When achieving these short term goals it makes us feel good and fires us up to keep going. If we focus on achieving small, short term goals it makes the process of achieving dreams that much more enjoyable. All these small goals add up to one big dream, but we also need to reward ourselves along the way otherwise, we get burned out.
Today we live in a social media world where it’s easier for regular Joes to turn their dreams into reality, but we often discredit all the hard work behind the scenes. It’s easy to look at a big Instagram account and think “Oh, well, they got big because of x”. We think we can never do the same. But the truth behind all the glamor and glitz is years of hard work.
Take for example @travisburkephotography, one of the most recognized travel photographers on Instagram who has created a following of 450K people. According to his interview in the Red Bulletin Magazine, he started off his career by taking classes at a community college, Youtubing photography tips every day for hours and spending endless nights practicing photography outdoors. Now Travis lives in a van, spends his days shooting adventure photos outdoors and the rest of his free time is spent editing the photos in his van until his eyes are bloodshot red. He doesn’t consider himself gifted or naturally talented – he just worked as hard as he could at his dream until that dream became his everyday reality.
I know how it feels. Instagram makes it look so easy, but behind the pretty pictures goes in a lot of work and planning. I have spent sleepless nights driving 15 hours to a destination only to sit outdoors in the freezing rain, stuck in a tiny spot on a mountain ridge waiting for a sunrise and the perfect light for a single photo. But all this hard work pays off to have that one perfect picture. It’s my dream and I am happy to be out there making it happen.
Starting on a new path is never easy. Whether it is going for a new job or a hobby everything requires a lot of work. We are not born being good at things and we don’t wake up as doctors or lawyers or business owners. It takes many hours of hard work for us to acquire certain skills and become better at the things we are trying to achieve.
SET YOUR PRIORITIES
How many times have you thought “I really want to try ____ but I don’t have the time”. But then at the same time, we spend hours on social media and watching TV. Sometimes it’s not a matter of time but a matter of priority. Instead of saying “I don’t have the time”, try saying “It’s not a priority” and all of a sudden it makes us feel different about it. There is always time to try something we have been dreaming of for a while. We might just need to give up something else to make time for new adventures or experiences in our lives.
Social media is great in that it provides a window into everyone else’s lives. Have you ever caught yourself looking at a person’s account thinking “Oh man, I wish I could live that life”. I know I have…a lot. So I decided, what the heck, why not? What is stopping me from at least trying to do the same? What is the worst case scenario? Why shouldn’t I be able to do the same? So I went for it. I left my job to travel the world full time. And it has brought me a lot of joy, but it has also been a lot of hard work, dedication, stress and sleepless nights. But if you were to ask me “Is it worth it?” my answer always is “YES, 100%”. We all have to start somewhere with our dreams if we want to make them a reality one day. The hardest part is just taking those first few steps.
So what’s stopping you from going after your dreams? Are you afraid you’re dreaming too big or that it’s too late to go after them? Nonsense. It might be hard, but not impossible.
Written by Laura Sausina