Like many creative people, I am always full of new ideas.
Over the years, there have been many projects I’ve been passionate about, and just as many that have fallen by the wayside for one reason or another. We all have them. We have the dreams that stick with us and we accomplish. We also have the dreams that never get done.
What’s the difference? How do we go from dreaming to doing?
There is a gap between idea and action that is hard for many of us to bridge. There are those ideas that are just passing blips on our radar and passing daydreams; those are fine to leave undone. But what about those other dreams? The ones that keep us up at night, the ones that are our north star, the ones that live in our bones and keep coming back until we do something about them. To let those dreams remain undone is a tragedy. So how do we get there? How do we take these creative strands and weave them into a reality?
Five steps we can take to bridge the gap between dreaming and doing:
1. Take one step towards your dream every day. Yes, we’ve all heard the “do one thing a day that scares you,” and that’s great. But we also need to do the work. Taking one concrete action towards our goals—no matter how small—is necessary. Thinking about it doesn’t count. In order to truly shift towards a goal, we need a physical action, even the action of writing about it in our journals. When we take physical action towards a goal, we create new connections in the brain in a way that just sitting and thinking about it cannot accomplish. These simple actions are how we change our lives.
2. Tell someone your dream. Commit. This is a tough piece. I know I have had ideas that I tell people about, and then feel silly when I don’t follow through or it doesn’t work out. It happens. Dreams evolve, and sometimes we find as we grow the dreams we once had aren’t a fit anymore. Find at least one person who you trust to both encourage you and keep you accountable. Choose someone who will be compassionately honest with you and who believes in you.
3. Make it visible. Again, if we keep our dreams all in our heads, we take the risk that they will stay there permanently. Write it down and put it where you see it often. This isn’t to say, “make a vision board and it will all work out.” Making a physical representation of our dreams that we see often is not the end. It is a tangible reminder of where we are headed. It is a call to action, not the action itself. This helps us have clarity of focus in a way that just thinking about our ideas cannot.
4. Use it to measure what you allow into your life. This is another tough thing for creative people. We see new ideas and new opportunities pop up all the time. Our big dream should be our baseline. Does this new idea help or hinder me from my goals? Is it a match for the message I want to create with my life? Does this new thing resonate with what I am trying to accomplish? If the answer is “no,” let the new idea go. If we spend time grasping at every new shiny idea that comes along, we accomplish nothing. If we let it go, and it keeps coming back…then maybe it’s time to revisit or adjust our big goals.
5. Don’t give up. Easier said than done. There are days, many days, when it seems like even our best idea is a million miles from being attainable. I love reading about Thomas Edison, and his indefatigable drive to invent. We remember his successes and our lives are changed by them; we might forget at times that it took thousands of failed attempts before he got there.
In his own words:
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
When you feel like you want to give up, take one more small step. Talk to the person you’ve chosen to keep you accountable. Take a look at what you’ve planned so far. See if there is anything in your life that is acting as an obstacle instead of a stepping stone, and adjust accordingly. Be open to the idea that dreams evolve, and a dream we have one day may be the boat that carries us out onto the ocean of a much bigger journey.
Remember these things, and don’t give up!
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