Let Your Dreams Be Bigger Than Your Fears

“I want to be a writer.”

For years I had a dream of becoming an author. As a child I wrote stories and bound them into books. My mother had kept two of them and I remember clearly how much I loved writing even when I was young.

As I grew up I followed the script that had been written for me. I was raised to believe that the answer to having a good life was to go to college, get a good job, get married and have kids. Honestly, it didn’t even occur to me that there was another way.

I went to college at the state university, working to support myself financially and taking out loans to pay for tuition. I have always been fortunate that school was easy for me so I didn’t have to work too hard to get good grades. After I graduated I started looking for an entry-level position somewhere. My degree in Spanish and Linguistics didn’t lend itself easily to a career in New England so I got a job as an administrative assistant in a company that managed retirement accounts. I was on my way to being a success, doing something I really had no interest in doing.

I met my (ex)husband in college. We didn’t have much in common except a desire to be successful. When we were dating we fell into a routine of me tagging along to do things with his friends. It seemed fine at the time. After a while we moved in together and I stopped tagging along and stayed home while he went out. We eventually bought a house and got married. The house was a duplex that we renovated. Renting out one of the units while we lived in the other gave us a bit of extra income and a feeling of success. Eventually we had kids, another checkmark in the list of things that I hoped to accomplish.

We got into the routine so many people are in: go to work, take care of the kids, watch a couple hours of TV, go to bed so we can do it all over again. What happened to our goals? What happened to my dream of becoming a writer? Was there anything more or was this all there would ever be?

This morning, when I woke up and started thinking about what I wanted to accomplish today it occurred to me how different my life is from the one I thought I was supposed to have. Or, maybe more importantly, I thought about how the life I plan to have is nothing like the one I used to think was “good.” And even more, I want that for my children.

Over the past several years I’ve learned that there is more than one path to be followed. I’ve discovered that the possibilities really are limited only by our own beliefs, our self-doubts, our fears. I’ve found out that I can live the life of my dreams if I’m willing to let go of my old beliefs and put in the effort. And that’s what I am going to do.

I don’t have to work in an office 40 hours a week if I don’t want to. I don’t have to have a job doing menial tasks for someone who thinks it’s important to have 3 different documents all saying the same thing. I don’t have to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t fit me, my life, my dreams, or who isn’t a role model for my kids. I don’t have to constantly struggle with my weight or my self-image.

If I choose, I can spend my life creating things of value. I can do things I believe in, things that I know are important…not just to me but that are important to others. I can wait to be in a relationship with someone who understands all this and who wants it too.

And I can teach my children that they get to live the life that is right for them. I want them to go to college, but I don’t believe that’s the only way, or even the best way, anymore. So if they decide not to go to college I support that, as long as they have another plan. I would love for them to get married and have babies for me to play with, but I don’t believe they should settle for someone who isn’t right because getting married is more important than being happy.

I’m still fighting my fears, my self-doubt. I’m not immune to that just because I’ve grown. But I will conquer my fears. I know I will. I have done it before. The first time is the hardest. Now that I know I can do it, it’s much easier to do it again. And so I keep pushing forward, toward the life I know I deserve.

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What Do You Want More Than Anything Else?

New Year’s Day is a time for resolutions. We use this time to reflect on the year that has passed, and plan for the year ahead. There are many changes I’d like to see in 2019. Among those are:

  • Become more disciplined in my writing.  I want to finish my novel this year and begin blogging again.
  • Maintain my weight for the year.
  • Continue running 5 miles once or twice a week while increasing speed.
  • Reduce the use of artificial sweeteners.
  • Do more physical activities with my kids.
  • Reduce sugar and increase vegetables in the girls’ diet.

The problem is that New Year’s resolutions are incredibly difficult to stick to.  It sounds good on January 1 when we tell ourselves we’re going to start eating better, but we’re not going to start on a holiday, right?  There’s a big party and we can’t possibly miss out on Joe’s wings and Sarah’s brownies.  Tomorrow is as good a day to start as today.  Then January 2 a coworker brings in a dozen doughnuts…and we decide it can wait a day.

I was in this rut for years.  There was always a reason to wait a day.  I was too busy, too tired, too frustrated, too sad, too happy.  And so I’d wait.

I researched ways to break this cycle.  I Googled how to stick to resolutions and I read about changing habits.  The experts would have you believe there’s a formula you can follow.  I read about SMART goals in Take Control Of Your Life: A 2 hour plan to help you set and reach your goals and forming habits in The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.  Their arguments made sense and I liked the idea that there was a clear cut answer. I recommend both these books, but their formulas didn’t work.  Maybe they will work for you, but they didn’t for me.  I found sticking to following the formula had the same problem I had sticking to the resolution.  I just didn’t do it.

But last year was different.  Last year I made changes to my life and I stuck with them.  I fundamentally changed how I was eating.  I became more physically active.  I wrote for the first time in years.  I started doing all the things I’d told myself for years I would do.

What was different?  How did I suddenly do it when I’d never been able to follow through before?

It’s a question I’ve been thinking about a lot, because as I posted yesterday I’ve gotten off track and I want to fix it.  I know I can – I’ve done it before.  But how?

What I’ve come up with is that I wanted it and I believed in myself.  I made myself a priority.

By the end of 2017 my back hurt so badly I was in tears just trying to get off the couch.  I knew if I lost weight it would hurt less.  And I wanted to hurt less.  I wanted my back to stop hurting more than I wanted to eat brownies.  So I made changes that aligned with this goal.  I did whatever I had to do to achieve this, including ending a relationship with someone who encouraged me to eat badly.  I made it a priority and I stuck with it.

I published my first book in 2018 for the same reason.  I have always wanted to write a book.  As a child I would literally bind my own books that I had written.  But why was I able to do publish a book in 2018 when for the 40 years prior to that it had just been a pipe dream?  Getting on track with my diet gave me confidence.  I finally realized that if I wanted something – even something that has eluded me for years – I could achieve it.  So I focused my energy on writing.  I made time to write, even if it meant the laundry didn’t get folded and the floor waited to be mopped.  I took time off from work and woke up early to write.  I prioritized writing and I published my book.

So this year, when I write my resolutions I will focus on what it is I really want from 2019.  What do I want more than anything else?  What do I want more than brownies?  What is so important to me that I will give up everything else to achieve it?

What do you want badly enough to give up everything else?

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Resolutions.

Let’s Create a New Tradition!

This time of year is filled with family, friends and traditions. It is a time for saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new.

I started 2018 strong – stronger than any year I can remember. I achieved more than I ever thought I could in a single year:

  • I lost over 40 pounds in 9 months and have been maintaining for 3 months.
  • I started running and can now run 5 miles.
  • I took up yoga and can now bend myself into a pretzel.
  • I started meditating.
  • I began writing and blogging.
  • I wrote and published my first book.
  • I started my novel.
  • I took over 2 MeetUp groups.
  • I traveled to new places.

I became a version of me that I truly loved.

But since October my life has gotten a little off track.  My mom passed away and even though we weren’t close it hit me hard.  At the same time I lost a good friend.  He’s still alive and kicking, but I don’t have him for support anymore.  I had trouble with my rental, my expenses skyrocketed, my savings dwindled.  Every piece of my life seemed to be spinning out of control.

I’ve been trying to be patient with myself.  It takes time to heal.  But after 2 months I’m getting restless.  I am starting to feel like I’m using this as an excuse and I want to get back to where I was…before.

I want to repeat my strong start from last year.  I want that to be a new tradition.  I don’t want to just make resolutions.  I want to propel myself into a better life.  I want to use New Year’s Day as a time to reset myself, to be the person I want to be.

Will you join me?

I’m going to start by rereading my book. You can too. It will be available for FREE on 1/1 and 1/2 to get you started. Just click on the image below to get your copy. Let’s do this!

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Traditions.