It was a strange feeling, on Day One of our round-the-world expedition, to push off from our house on a bicycle as we’d done a million times before. My mind couldn’t quite comprehend what was happening, and it felt like I was going off to run a quick errand and that I would be home again within the hour. I had experienced a similarly surreal feeling when we stepped over the threshold of our Tiny House to spend our first evening in it, recognition of our achievement slowly creeping into my consciousness, followed by a sincere disbelief that we had arrived at our intended destination.
Kai & I have plodded along each day, over five years’ time, taking a micro-step here and sometimes a step backward there, all the while working toward our shared dreams of living a more sustainable lifestyle, of removing ourselves from things that distract us from living intentionally, of becoming healthier (both spiritually & physically), and of becoming more engaged world citizens. Instant gratification may feel really good but it doesn’t compare to the intense gratification that comes from taking risks, working hard, and waking up to the day that you find yourself smack in the middle of living and not just dreaming.
Fulfill Your Dreams :: Ready, Set, Go!
Recently, a regular reader of our blog asked us the following questions, specifically related to the building of our Tiny House:
“Where do you start? What nail do you drive first? What helped you to decide the direction and to get you to this point in your life?”
These were great questions to reflect upon (thanks Jordan!) and when we finished thinking about our answers, we realized they summarized how we approach most dreams and goals in our lives. We thought it would be worthwhile sharing what worked for us, in the hope that others would respond with their own life strategies.
Do What Comes Naturally
The truth is that everyone is motivated by different things so each person’s path to fulfilling their dreams is going to be unique to them. What works for us may not work for someone else. That being said, every one of us starts off at the same place, the place of dreaming. Nothing can happen unless we dare to dream it and to imagine it as a part of our future. It took us about six months of just fantasizing about cycling around the world and talking about building a tiny house before we were actually ready to take the next steps.
Commit & Make Lists
We could have lingered in the “dream stage” for our entire lives but we knew that if we wanted to turn our dreams into reality, we would have to take action. We didn’t start to see progress until we committed ourselves to the belief that we could potentially achieve our dreams. As soon as we made the decision to give it our best shot, we sat down and made lists of things we had to do to even begin heading in the direction we imagined.
Focus on Small Tasks
Why dream if you can’t dream BIG? But don’t let the size of your dreams hinder your momentum. Focusing on the larger, abstract, goals of building a house or cycling around the world would feel overwhelming to us, and sometimes paralyzing. We broke the larger goals into smaller task lists, then kept our heads down and put our energy into each task, one at a time, and one day at a time.
Prepare to Be Disciplined Yet Forgiving
Working to achieve our goals in such a methodical and slow way required us to be more disciplined than we ever thought we could be. We had to learn how to motivate and reward ourselves, how to give ourselves breaks and recovery time, how to be kind under stress, and how to overcome depression and self-doubt when it all seemed insurmountable.
Be Resilient & Don’t Get Stuck on Schedules
We had to accept that we couldn’t accomplish everything at once, that things wouldn’t always go as we had planned, and that we (and others) would make mistakes along the way. It was just better for everyone when we viewed challenges or setbacks as an integral and necessary part of the process and then moved on to find a solution.
Don’t Expect Perfection
We tried not to dwell upon our weaknesses. We’re not perfect, nor will we ever be perfect. We are beautifully vulnerable and fallible human beings, as is everyone. We have to do what we can do now, accept our weaknesses alongside acknowledgement of our strengths, and if we still find ourselves stuck on what we can’t do, seek out the knowledge and expertise to help us become better at the things we want to improve upon.
Find Inspiration & Community
When we needed a boost, we found renewed inspiration by reading books, watching films, connecting with like-minded people online, or going to events that focused on the power of regular people taking action and affecting positive change. We sought out and surrounded ourselves with positive and supportive friends and community, who helped us through the rough patches and shared in our celebrations. We reached out to neighbors to share our plans and to ask for their patience and good graces while we were building. Many of them offered their support and opened their hearts to us in ways we never expected. Through this process we formed deep relationships, built a strong support system, and realized a sense of community we had never before experienced in our lives.
Remember that You Are Capable, Powerful, and Worthy
There were days when we felt deflated, unmotivated, and incapable. Some days we wanted to give up. We had to remind each other that we were fully capable and worthy of everything we dreamed of, and that every day, and every task completed, brought us closer to achieving our goals. We often referred to this quote by Marianne Williamson, to strengthen our resolve:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination.
It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. While we allow our light to shine, we unconsciously give permission for others to do the same. When we liberate ourselves from our own fears, simply our presence may liberate others.”
What about you? What methods have you incorporated into your life to help you achieve your goals and dreams? Please leave your words of wisdom in the comments section so that we can all benefit from them.