Thursday, February 26, 2009

Achieving Your Dreams

I'm a big believer in setting goals, thinking about what you want, dreaming about it, listing all the ways your life will be better for reaching your goal, talking about it with trusted friends and advisors, being single-minded in your determination to achieve...

But, what next?

Er... Action.

That's a part most of us don't really think about, much less do.

I can think about writing. I can dream about it. I can list all the great things that come from writing, seeing your name in print, looking at the gorgeous cover art, getting a royalty check. I can even attend writers' groups and conferences. I can blog about writing a book. I can talk about it with my friends. Most certainly, I can make a list of the ways my life will be better if I write a book.

But until I sit myself in a chair and put my fingers on the keyboard day after day, hour after hour, missing out on opportunities to go out with friends, skipping activities I enjoy, I can never achieve my goal.

Several years ago (okay, maybe five), I set a weight goal. I did all the things I talk about in my coaching. I made the lists, I talked about how great things would be once I wore a smaller size, I dreamed about it.

But I actually didn't get to the fitness club all that often. And I didn't significantly change my eating habits...until I had an issue with my knee last fall. I ended up in physical therapy. In order to keep up my regular activities, including hiking, I had to make changes.

I hired a personal trainer to teach me to get fit. Since I had to pay in advance, almost a thousand dollars, I had a real commitment to show up for my three-times a week sessions. Then, because I wanted to get the most out of the sessions, I changed my eating habits. (I even learned how to cook brown rice and started steaming fresh veggies every day.)

I had spent years visualizing the scale at that ideal weight. I pictured shopping for smaller clothes. I talked about eating healthier. I strategized how I would achieve my goals. I told people about my determination. I wrote affirmations.

But I took only half-hearted efforts to achieve my goals. For example, I'd eat well for two days, and then have a Coke and chocolate the next. I'd go to the gym once a week, maybe twice if I was feeling ambitious.

Until I made a consistent effort, I held my own, but I didn't make progress.

I'm happy to report that, as of last week, I have achieved my weight goal. (Now I'm going to set another!)

I learned through this experience that dreaming, thinking, wanting, affirming is not enough. To achieve, you have to take action.

What do you really, really want that you haven't taken action on?

Be honest with yourself.

If you want to be a writer, do you write every day? (Or do you only think about it and dream about it?) If you want to be a size smaller, have you checked with your doctor and made a game plan? If you want better financial results, have you made changes to your spending, saving, investing habits?

Where can you take action to have the life you dream of?

Believing in you...

(who has a story out in the new, fabu Night of the Senses anthology from Total-E-Bound. Yes, I skipped fun activities in order to see my name on a book. Some sacrifices are definitely worth it!)