Think You’re Too Young, Too Old, or Too Late to Achieve Your Dreams?

I wrote this originally as a guest post on Free Money Finance on February 5, 2010.

Have you ever felt like you’re too young, too old or too late to make a serious change in your life – like finally getting out of debt, finding work you were meant to do, starting the business you’ve always wanted, or living your dream lifestyle?

I think most of us have been there at one time or another.  We think our dreams or goals are out of reach because of the situation or circumstances we find ourselves in.  Or we believe the lies that we’re not qualified, gifted, talented, rich, or knowledgeable enough to do it.

Earlier this year, I re-read The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose, by Matthew Kelly.

In the book, Kelly offers an inspiring list of now-famous people who didn’t let their age or stage of life stop them from achieving their dreams and living a life of significance: [Read more…]

What Do You Do When You’re Forced to Wait for Your Dream?

What do you do when you wait to achieve your dream?

What do you do when you have to wait before you can achieve your goals or dreams?

I was almost to my destination when the red lights started flashing and the gates began to come down.  It didn’t matter how close I was, or how much of a hurry I was in.  I had to stop for a train.  And not a short train…but a long one!

For some reason, while I waited for the train to pass, my mind began to think of some times in my life when I had to wait.  Times when I was on track to achieve or accomplish a goal or dream, and then something came up and there was nothing I could do but wait.

In our instant society, no one likes to wait.  I know I don’t.  Do you?.  But there are still times when we have to wait.  There are situations beyond our control – like a natural disaster or economic downturn.  There are people who could slow us down – like our clients, spouse or boss.  There are personal things that could slow or stop us – like our health or finances.

What do you do when you’re forced to wait before you can realize your dreams? Here are some tips I’ve discovered that have really helped me while I have waited on a dream:

  1. Take stock of your life – make sure you’re focusing on the right things. There have been times when the “waiting room” helped me to realize that the thing I was waiting for wasn’t really the thing I should be pursuing.  So the wait was really a blessing which kept me from further trouble.
  2. Look for things you need to learn or change. There have been times when my attitude has had to change.  Other times I’ve had to learn to watch what I say (I have a gift for sarcasm, which doesn’t help in many situations).  And always, I’ve had to learn to be a good listener – to really understand what others are trying to say.  I’ve discovered that in every situation when I’ve been forced to wait, there was something that I could learn about myself.
  3. Think in Steps. Break the big goal, dream or project into smaller tasks.  Is there a way to take one step forward now  instead of waiting to do it all at once?  If it is your dream job that you’re waiting on, what steps can you take toward your dream job now?
  4. Identify people who can help you. Maybe it’s time you hired a coach or found a mentor who can guide you through this process – someone who has “been there and done that” and can help you achieve your dream.  Or maybe you need to ask a friend to hold you accountable for changes you need to make or steps you need to take.  I’ve been blessed to have several mentors who have helped to equip me on my journey toward success.

What have you found helpful when you’ve had to wait?  What things would you add to this list of tips?  Please share your comments and ideas below.

You might also like:
What keeps you from achieving your dreams?
Nine reasons why you’ll never achieve your dreams
How to turn problems into opportunities

Three Questions to Help You Identify Your Life’s Passion

One night after one of his concerts, the great violinist Itzhak Perlman attended a charity reception in his honor. People who attended the special event paid hundreds of dollars for the privilege of meeting him.

During the reception, a man walked up to Perlman, congratulated him on his amazing performance that night, and said, “Mr. Perlman, I’ve always had a great love of the violin. I would give my whole life to be able to play the violin like you did tonight.”

Perlman smiled at him and said, “I have.”

You already know the point I’m about to make, right?  Two men. Both extremely passionate about the violin. The difference is that one took action and pursued his passion. The other did not.

Do you have a dream or passion worth giving your whole life to?  If not, here are three questions to help you figure it out:

  • If you had all the time and money in the world, and you knew you could not fail, what would you do?
  • What difference do you want to make in the world before you die?
  • What cause, need, problem or opportunity excites you the most?

I’m pretty clear on what my passion is and how I plan to achieve it.  But at times in my life, I’ve let busyness, fear of failure, and fear of the unknown keep me from pursuing it. Can anyone else relate?

Gratefully, every now and then someone or something reminds me that “Life is short. Don’t waste it.” And then I’m motivated again to take action.

If you struggle with taking that first or next step in pursuing your passion and dreams, consider these words from Henry David Thoreau:

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!  Live the life you’ve imagined.

And if you’ve never taken the time your write out your dreams, or to describe your ideal life and preferred future, take some time to do it today!  That’s your next step.

You might also like:
Stop allowing fear to guide your life
What do you want from life?
Nine reasons why you’ll never achieve your dreams

What’s Your Berlin Wall? What Keeps You From Achieving Your Dreams?

Fall of the Berlin Wall

Fall of the Berlin Wall

Twenty years ago today, the Berlin Wall fell.  I remember it like it was yesterday.

As a 19-year old university student in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I watched the event unfold on TV in the residence hall lounge, along with dozens of others who had gathered around.

Where there had been 50 years of hopelessness and despair in Communist East Germany, there was at once hope and joy.

Today, there’s a piece of the Berlin Wall in a museum just a few miles from my house.  What once stood as a symbol of governmental oppression and kept people from fulfilling their dreams, now stands as a shining reminder of the desire that all people to be free – free to live the life they want, free to pursue their dreams.

Do you have any “Berlin Walls” in your life today?

Is there anything that is holding you back and keeping you from living the life of your dreams?

Maybe there’s a wall that others have constructed that is keeping you from your dreams.  Parents, teachers, a spouse or friends who told you you’d never amount to anything, you can’t achieve your dreams, or you can’t live the life you’ve always wanted.

Maybe there’s a wall you’ve built yourself, brick by brick, that is keeping you from the life you want.  Bad habits that keep you down, negative self-talk that keeps reminding you of past failures.  Fear that keeps you from taking that first step.

If there are obstacles that stand between you and the life you want to live, here are five simple steps to overcome them:

  1. Identify the obstacles – give them a name.
  2. Understand where the obstacles come from – were they made by others or by yourself?
  3. Decide right now that you’re not going to let these obstacles stop you anymore.
  4. Make a simple plan how you’re going to go over, around, or through the obstacles that stand in your way.  It could be as simple as just two or three things that you know you need to do, the next time that obstacle stands in your way.
  5. Take action – just do it!

It always amazes me how some obstacles, which seemed so huge at first, often become so small once we take bold action to overcome them.

What obstacles stand in your way today?  What can you do right now to defeat them?  Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!

What Do You Want From Life?

Today, I want to share with you a poem I first heard over 20 years ago when I was a university student.  Napoleon Hill included it in the original edition of Think and Grow Rich.  The author is unknown.

I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store.
For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid.

Some observations:

  1. We can get what we want out of life, but we must pay a price.
  2. Some don’t ask much from life…and they don’t contribute much either.
  3. That last point reminds me of the Master Dream List.  Some people just don’t dream anymore, or they don’t think their dreams will make a difference because they don’t take the right steps to fulfill those dreams.
  4. When we consider how we spend our time in work-related or income-producing activities, we should choose to engage in activities with the highest reward or payoff.
  5. The earlier the better – meaning, the sooner we understand and employ these principles in our lives, the more success we’ll enjoy.

Is there anything else you’d add to my observations?  If so, please share your ideas in the Comments section below.

Also, if you haven’t taken the time to do this ever, or in a really long time, why not take some time today to answer this question: What do I want from life? I’ll share my answer to that question in my next post.

The Master’s Dream List

On Sundays, I blog on Spirituality, Faith and Ethics.  Click here to read why.

I’ve shared previously that the very first thing I encourage people to do, when they start getting serious about Lifestyle Design, is to create their Master Dream List.  The Master Dream List is the place to list everything you’d ever want to do, be, have, or achieve.

The mentor who first taught me about the Master Dream List put an interesting spin on it for me one day.  He encouraged me to think of it as The Master’s Dream List.

He suggested that I pray about my dreams and ask God (The Master) to clarify which ones were the most important ones to pursue now, and to reveal to me, over time, which ones weren’t so important after all.

I’ve been doing this for years now and I can say that it has made a difference in my life.

I’ve learned that God is the source of many of my dreams.  But I also recognize that some dreams are selfish distractions that come from somewhere deep within me. And if I let them, they’ll pull me away from the attainment of what’s really important.

I’d encourage you to give it a try.  If you aren’t typically a person of prayer, ask yourself, “What can it hurt?”  And maybe more importantly…”What if it works?”