October 20th, 2014 by Katie Morton
Photo Credit: Valerie Hinojosa / Creative Commons
About a year ago, I was waking up before dark every morning. I had a set of rituals that I knew would put me on course to the life of my dreams.
The only problem was – and this was a big one – I was chasing the wrong dream. At the time, I was working at being a life coach, and I was thinking that I would write novels once I retired. I actually wrote this to a friend in an email a year ago, that I would write novels when I retire, and not long after that, my coaching business circled the drain. Although I didn’t appreciate it at the time, my prayers were being answered. The Universe always has our backs.
Cue the sound of a needle scratching a record. Is there anything you tell yourself you will do more of “when you retire”? If so, then there’s a big chance you should be making more time for it NOW – not some far off time that might never come.
There’s no final resting place during this life when you’re free to prance through a meadow. It’s imperative we make sure to have fun now, along the way, or we waste the whole shooting match on boring obligations.
Here are the 10 Easy Steps to Making Your Dreams Come True – today!
1. What’s your dream?
This is honestly the trickiest step. We complicate the heck out of it. We think, “What’s my life’s purpose?” and then we break out into a cold sweat. Start with the easy stuff. What feels good to you?
If you aren’t sure, then pick up a magazine, and without thinking too hard, tear out pictures that speak to you. Now you’ve got the start of a vision board (or box – if the thought of hanging a vision board on your wall makes you cringe, just collect photos in a box. Easy peasy.)
You don’t need to decide everything right this instant, but just start collecting ideas for your life that make you feel excited and enthusiastic about the possibilities. If you don’t feel like working with images, then write some things down. Just keep some kind of simple record of what your dream for your life is.
Without having to consult a magazine, images that come to my mind are sunny nature scenes. I also like the idea of someone wrapped in a cozy sweater and sipping coffee while they smile at a laptop. (That’s me right now.) I’m a writer, so I’m now committed to writing every day. One day I will own a beach house. That’s about it!
2. Decide and believe.
Many of us will pick a delicious dream for ourselves and then immediately start pecking furiously at the edges with a list of ways it can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t work out for us. Stop that!
If there’s a word for both deciding and believing in one fell swoop, the word would be commitment. You have to commit to your dream. Don’t just put it in a box and close the lid, never to see the light of day. You have to take it out and fondle it…every…day. Take it out, play with it, give it some air.
Decision + Belief = Commitment
Decide you want your dream to happen. For real. Believe it will and can happen. For real. This is the magic sauce that will help propel your dream into reality. If you don’t decide and believe, and therefore commit, well then…as Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”
3. Release fear.
This next step isn’t a one-time event. It’s probably something you’re going to have to do over and over, every time you notice you’re stuck and you’ve stopped forward momentum.
We disguise fear under logistics all the time: “Oh, I don’t have time to go after that dream, I need to make money!” Sure ya do. So get up earlier.
“Well then I don’t have time!” Sure ya do. So get up earlier.
“But then I’ll be exhausted!” Here’s the thing. Last year, when I was getting up early, it was a bit of a battle. I was always feeling like it took heroics to drag my limp carcass out of bed that early.
It’s all in the attitude. This go round, I decided it was going to be easy and exciting to get up early to write every day. I decided it’s not going to be difficult. I decided to get the sleep I need, and not be so dramatic and sacrificial about getting up early.
Choose the right attitude. Release fear. Repeat.
4. Take action!
Eegads, finally, the part where we actually DO stuff. Figure out what you need to DO to make your dream happen.
Then go do it.
To sum up step four, take action daily.
5. Love yourself.
It’s really easy to lose the plot in the frenzy of daily living. Just slow down, pump the breaks, relax. Listen.
Take quiet time alone every day – again, early morning if need be – to reflect, read, write, and to hear yourself think. Give yourself the time and space to feel your feelings and organize your thoughts so that you may stay in touch with your own needs and desires for your life.
6. Use other’s success as inspiration.
When you notice someone more fortunate, practice saying to yourself, “You know what? I want that, too! I’m going to figure out how and make it happen!”
If we want good things to happen to us, we have to stop judging others negatively for the good things they bring into their lives. Judging and criticizing others is such a silly energy drain. I will go out on a limb here and say that the majority of people who judge others negatively for their success don’t realize they do it, or they don’t realize there’s anything wrong with doing it.
I saw a Facebook comment the other day that basically said all rich people are thieving, greedy liars and that all poor people are generous and would give you the shirt off their backs. Nonsense. NONSENSE. That’s a waste of breath right there. Bill Gates has donated $26 BILLION to philanthropic causes. I would rather imagine all the good Bill’s money is doing out there in the world than to take one second to consider accepting the smelly shirt off some guy’s back.
Instead of being Judge-y McJudge Pants, use others as inspiration: see what you want, and figure out how to make it happen. When you paint everyone who is rich with one brush (bad) you are going to repel money like it’s your job. Money isn’t imbued with magical good or evil qualities. It’s just money. It helps you live comfortably. Accept it without making bizarre value judgments.
7. View mistakes as lessons, not an excuse to give up.
This happened to me last year when my coaching business took a nosedive: I panicked, and then I gave up. Which was fine, because I realized that coaching wasn’t my dream after all. When things didn’t go well, I didn’t think, “Just a bump in the road, let me fix this.” Instead I thought about all the hours and days I’d spent on the administrative junk: the web pages I developed, the excruciating task of writing sales copy, and the PDFs I’d created, and I realized that this wasn’t my dream. I hated that stuff.
I just like writing.
I didn’t learn that lesson right away. Instead I spent lots of time saying, “Woe is me,” and panicking about money, and panicking about finding work, and just generally spending all of my time panicking. In case that’s not clear: I panicked.
It took me a really long time to simply view my mistakes as lessons. Instead, I did all the stuff I coached other people not to do. Like when you make a mistake, it’s not a reflection on your character. It’s just data about what you should do next.
Finally, after close to a year of panic followed by wallowing, I’m back!
8. Value tiny decisions.
The decision to get up early every morning is a momentous one. The tiny decisions happen every single day, when I look at the clock. Do I get up, or do I stay in bed? Every little decision, everything single thing we do, matters. Because what you do determines who you become. And who you become means either your success at achieving your dream or your failure. Choose wisely.
9. Don’t let bad habits win.
It’s so easy to blame our small lives, our tiny, chronic failures on our bad habits. We get sucked into the couch for TV marathons. We get sucked into pizza boxes and chip bags and some of us (ehem) even get into the habit (and then out of the habit and into the habit) of using beer or wine “to relax” when the going gets tough.
Then we spend all our precious energy on CRAP like trying to lose weight or break these bad habits. What you think about is what you get. If you spend all your time obsessing about your bad habits, your whole life is going to be a Sisyphean task of rolling the boulder up the hill while you resist, followed by getting steamrolled when you get tired and give in.
And yes, I’m speaking from experience. I say this with the utmost kindness and respect to both myself and to you: GET A LIFE. It’s only when our habits stand in the way of the life of our dreams that we will be compelled to chuck the now-annoying habits to the curb. Dream big, take action, worry about your habits some other day, like when they prevent you from getting up early.
Oh, and see step 3: release fear. Usually our bad habits are nothing more than a tepid attempt at escaping fear, but then we’ve really gone down the rabbit hole INTO fear when we do things that are self-destructive as an escape. Release fear, don’t try to numb it; it doesn’t work that way.
10. Believe the Universe is friendly.
Here are two quotes for you:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”
– William Hutchison Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
I could really boil this post down to 3 steps:
1. Dream big.
2. Act consistently.
3. Be amazed as the Universe conspires to help you achieve your dream.
Like this post? Get free updates.
September 23rd, 2014 by Katie Morton
Secrets of People With Extraordinary Willpower is a novel about a career woman in NYC who wants to stop turning to unhealthy comforts like food and wine. She discovers answers that many before her have sought throughout the ages: how to gain feelings of peace, satisfaction, and happiness in life. Sign up here for free updates.
photo credit: Matt Biddulph / Creative Commons
My heart was pounding in my ears as I strained to hear the voices on the other side of the door.
“You think she’s an alcoholic?”
“She told me she’s always setting goals like sticking to one drink and she can’t do it, so yes, I think she’s an alcoholic.”
“Oh wow. She told me on the way here she was only going to have one, but obviously that’s not happening.”
“Yeah, she’s had a drink in her hand all night, and I’m betting it’s not the same one.”
I panicked, searching for somewhere to leave my half-empty glass of wine. I spotted a hallway table, and I winced as I left my glass there on the polished wood surface without a coaster. I zipped back to the door in time to hear, “…although we are at a cocktail party, and I don’t think she’s even drunk…”
I wanted to leave, but I’d been at this party for three hours and I’d had three glasses of wine and I would seriously wet my pants if I didn’t get into this bathroom in 10 seconds, this bathroom that contained one of my best friends, Terry, and my shrink – well, after that night, my ex-shrink, Jill.
The door opened and I was face-to-face with Jill, who had just informed Terry of her bloated opinion that she thought I was an alcoholic. I would have spent a little time expressing my anger and indignation, except for the love of God! Toilet! Now! I pushed past their shocked faces into the powder room and slammed the door.
Once I was perched safely on the toilet seat, a warm stream of relief between my legs, I realized my hands were shaking and I didn’t know whether to punch a wall, laugh, or cry. Yes, I said I would stop at one drink, just like I’d say I’d stop at one bowl of ice cream or one measured portion of pasta or one slice of triple-cream brie. If I was guilty of a behavioral crime, it’s that I was a chronic dieter. Or more specifically, a chronic overeater. Which led to cycles of dieting and giving up. In short, I was a yo-yo-er.
Wine was just another one of those consumables I was telling myself to limit and then embracing in a fit of rebellious pleasure. Like chocolate. And cheese enchiladas with margaritas. And champagne with cupcakes. And New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream paired with pinot noir. I wasn’t a drunk as much as I was simply greedy when it came to the hedonistic pleasures of food and drink. I would concede to the term “glutton.”
Way back when I was a young 20-something adult trying to make it on my own, I recalled a spectacularly vicious screaming match that ended with this accusation by my mother: “You just do whatever feels good!” Her comment ended the fight because I could only think, “Why, yes. Of course I do. Why would anyone do differently? Isn’t that why we’re here on Earth?”
But by the time I was solidly entrenched in my 30s—well, if I’m honest, fast-approaching 40—it didn’t feel good to be single and to feel fat and unlovable. I was in a near-constant fight when it came to these behaviors like pigging out and boozing that, when I was younger, used to have no downsides.
I recognized that I was completely neurotic about my overeating and drinking. These habits that used to feel like fun and freedom were now so deeply ingrained that they felt like a part of me. As I tried to break free, the fun had turned into prison.
Does anyone else argue with themselves incessantly about what they put in their mouths? I felt like a crazy person. So when Terry recommended the shrink she used to pull her marriage through a rough patch, I was hopeful that Jill could work her magic on me and help me learn how to feel normal. Terry and Jill are now good buddies, but the last thing I thought Jill would do was peg me as an “alcoholic” and then violate my privacy by blabbing to Terry about it.
Alcoholic. God, that word makes me cringe. What a stigma. Well, Jill can go eff herself. What kind of shrink betrays a client like that?
When I was growing up, I always felt unmoored and uncentered, like I didn’t know who I was and like I was waiting for someone else to tell me. I was finally getting a sense, now as an adult, that my opinion of myself mattered. This woman might be a psychologist, but she didn’t know me better than I knew myself. She drew that conclusion out of thin air, and Terry might have bought it, but I could say unequivocally that it was bullsh*t. I didn’t give a crap about Jill, but if Terry believed her, then I was officially Very Pissed Off.
As I washed my hands and reapplied my lipstick, I could hardly contain my rising anger. Maybe I did give a crap about Jill. How dare she?
I pulled back my shoulders and held my head high as I threw the bathroom door open. There was nobody there. I heard voices and laughter coming from the back courtyard, and I realized that the party had moved outside. Rivaling my anger was embarrassment, and I realized I didn’t want to see Jill or Terry right then if I could avoid it. I needed to get out of there. I slinked to the front door of the brownstone and slipped outside onto the sidewalk of Brooklyn.
I couldn’t possibly suffer an epic upset like that without stuffing the hurt down with food, so on the subway ride back to Manhattan, I fantasized about what I was going to eat. I decided on a Thai dish called drunken noodles. The name was appropo given the accusation against me, plus noodle dishes of any kind were one of my favorite soul salves.
Carbs, especially pasta, made me fat. And the more upset I was, the more physically destructive I was in my food choices. But I didn’t want to think about all that just then. I wanted to escape. I picked up my cellphone and called Ginger. I felt relief as her friendly voice greeted me over the phone. I asked her, “What time do you get off work? I’m craving Thai.”
Ginger said, “José can fill in for me at the bar if I need to leave early; it’s slow here tonight.”
“Sorry, train is about to go underground, I’m going to lose you. Meet me at Mimi Thai in 20 minutes. Something weird happened tonight. I’ll tell you all about it there.”
I emerged from the smelly, dank subway station, and as I approached the restaurant, my mind reviewed familiar arguments, those deeply-worn ruts that my brain was used to traveling: “This is my chance. I could change my behavior forever right now by breaking the cycle. I could go home and journal out my thoughts and feelings instead of eating my way through the hurt.”
Then other familiar thoughts hijacked the thread: “But noodles give me pleasure. What’s a life without pleasure? I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. If I’m still alive tomorrow, I’ll start fresh. I need this right now, just for tonight. I can’t believe what they said about me. I want to feel better, and the fastest way, the only way I know how, is a steamy, savory plate of noodles.”
I wondered if, after I died, it would all be clear to me. Would I be better off with a life of vegetables, never allowing myself to eat whatever I wanted? Or would God laugh in my face and say, “I made doughnuts so you can eat them, dummy!”
I wanted so badly to not want. It would be great if I could eat delicious and healthy food most of the time while allowing myself the occasional treat, but I didn’t operate that way. Instead I turned the flow of want on and off completely, like a valve. When I get too fat for my clothes, when I felt so disgusted and uncomfortable in my body and so unhealthy that I felt worried, then I went on a campaign of health. I cleaned up the diet. I made healthy choices.
Then when my pants loosened, when my face started to look young and fresh from my healthy choices, when my belly began to flatten and look trim, the geyser of want opened again and I found myself thinking that drunken noodles were the best solution to my problems.
As I opened the door to the restaurant, the familiar tinkle of the bell over my head started my mouth watering, just like one of Pavlov’s dogs. Ginger was waiting for me at our favorite table with two glasses of cold white wine. As I sat down, I looked nervously and longingly at the glass. With what I was about to tell Ginger, I suddenly wondered how to act.
Ginger saw the look on my face and laughed. She said, “I know everything. Terry called me.”
“And you still ordered me a glass of wine?”
“Of course! That’s ridiculous! You? An alcoholic? Give me a break. If you’re an alkie, then I should have gone to rehab five years ago. Drink up.”
When our waitress came by, Ginger said, “Oh hey, Mimi. We’ll have the usual, thanks.”
A wave of relief washed over me. I picked up the wine and sat back in my chair. For the first time since I overheard Jill and Terry talking about me, I could breathe. I always felt A-Okay when I was with Ginger.
Ginger said, “So I should probably warn you…Terry and Jill want to stage an intervention. Terry called me to see if I would lure you over to her place tomorrow morning. I told her she was being crazy.”
“What!? An intervention?! Oh. My. GOD. I am so embarrassed!”
“Calm down, it’s no big deal; I told her we’re not doing it.”
“And? What did she say?”
“Well, she seemed a little unsure of the whole thing anyway. She actually sounded relieved when I told her she’s acting stupid. I think Jill is putting her up to it and so she felt pressured into it.”
“Jill. God. I never should have gone to that woman. What a bitch! I tell her my secrets and then she uses them against me? Shouldn’t this be in the Shrink Handbook of Things Not to Do?”
“Yeah, doesn’t sound right to me, but I don’t know what the rules are.” Ginger looked thoughtful for minute, and then said, “She probably thinks she’s helping. What did you say to her to make her think you have a drinking problem?”
“Well, I struggle with cravings a lot. But honestly, I struggle with cravings for everything. Sugar-free Redbull. Spinach and artichoke dip. Pasta with homemade tomato sauce with loads of garlic. Sushi. Pizza. It’s possible there’s nothing I don’t crave. I’m obsessed with food, and to me, wine falls under that category.”
“So Jill just fixated on the idea that you like wine too much.”
“Well, I gotta be honest here. I do like wine too much. Do I like to get a good buzz on? Yes, I do. But I always eat enough to drown out the buzz. I went to Jill to see if she could help me stop craving everything all the time. I’m tired of feeling fat. I’m tired of feeling unhealthy. I feel like I’m wasting my life obsessing about food and my weight. I’m almost 40. Shouldn’t I have this crap figured out by now?”
“You should meet up with my friend Sherry. She’s really into this stuff, I mean healthy eating and all that. She’s studying to be a health coach, so I bet she could tell you what to eat. She’s like a walking MindBodyGreen article. She’ll probably take you to buy a bag of chia seeds or something.”
“Oh yeah, I like Sherry. She and I chatted for hours at your birthday party. You think she’d be willing to help me?”
“Definitely. I’m telling you, she lives for this stuff. She’s all about crap like goji berries.”
“Whatever those are.”
“Exactly. Here, let me text her for you. I’ll give her your number and see if she can meet you at the Union Square Farmer’s Market tomorrow morning. I know she goes every week.”
“How early is it?”
Ginger laughed, “Are you serious, Kelly? How early is it? Would you rather we did the intervention?”
“No,” I scoffed.
Smiling, Ginger shook her head and texted Sherry.
On my walk home that night, I got a text from a number I didn’t recognize. It read, “Hi Kelly, it’s Sherry. Want to meet at 9 tomorrow morning at Union Square?”
I texted her back, “Yes, please! Thanks so much for helping me out.” Help was on the way. Finally.