Have you ever watched a dog play fetch? I mean really watched it. The way he hunches his shoulders, bends his knees, wags his tail, locks his eyes on the toy and traces it back and forth with his gaze as his owner waves it around for a minute to taunt him before WHOOSH! The dog is off the same instance the ball leaves the owner’s hand. Full force, he doesn’t stop at the toy but rather just beyond it, almost tripping over his own legs as he swoops the toy into his mouth and trots gleefully back to his owner to do it all over again.
If only we all treated persuing our dreams like a game of fetch, there’s no telling how much success we would have.
Imagine locking your eyes on that one thing, that one dream, that greatest desire of your heart and never taking your eyes off of it, waiting for the perfect moment of opportunity. And when that moment strikes, off you go, with utmost joy and strength; not wavering, not looking around to see if anyone is watching or doing the same thing, just chasing that goal. When you get there, you realize you’ve even gone beyond. You scoop up what was promised, and skip back to where you started to do it all over again. Catching hold of one dream is the first step to accomplishing the next. Like a dog playing fetch, you never tire, you never get worn out. Instead you are energized by each chase and gain more momentum in the next.
That certainly sounds appealing, empowering even. But, unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the way life goes. Or better yet, it doesn’t seem to be the way we often choose to live our lives. Instead, we get caught up in the day to day, minute to minute distractions that seem to only grow. We can’t be helped to find the time amidst our crazy schedules to work towards the places we ultimately want to be. And besides that, the first step in the right direction somehow always eludes us.
If you’ve read my About page, you know that I’m a twenty year old married business professional with a bachelor’s degree. Even so, I work daily to keep my eyes focused on my future, on my goals, and what I need to do today to get me one step closer. Just because the world would label me as successful doesn’t mean I’m where I want to be.
People often ask me how I got here. To be honest, I never thought much about my accomplishments until recently because I’ve always just done my best and let the rest fall into place. But as I stopped to consider how far I’ve come and how far I’d still like to go, I’ve come up with a few things that I know have helped me throughout the years and a few others that I know will keep me going as I continue to move forward. Here’s 8 keys to gaining momentum toward your dreams:
- Write Down Your Goals – My family and I do this every single year. We sit down together and lay out what we want to accomplish over then next 365 days by category (work/school, personal/fitness, spiritual, and vacation). It never fails. There is something about declaring a goal out loud to people who will encourage you and then writing those goals down that speaks them into reality. It’s as though giving voice to the dream accomplishes it in advance.
- Listen – Listen to people older and wiser than you, yes. But also listen to yourself. You know deep down inside what you need to do. It can be as simple as “Do I want to go out with friends tonight or stay in and study” or as difficult as “Do I need to give this thing up in order to have more time for another, more important thing.” While other people can give good advice, you should always weigh your decision in your gut. If you feel peace, go for it. If you don’t, wait a little while or choose a new direction.
- Steward Your Gifts – Value the talents that God has given you. When you put even a little time and effort into your gifts, they will grow exponentially. Stop comparing what you are good at with what others are good at. Even if you are a talented musician, don’t waste time looking at the other musicians. Do your best to foster growth in your area of skill, and God will lead you into a place where you can use that gift towards accomplishing the dreams in your heart. You’ll also find that your gifts often work well in tandem. Be open to exploring how you can use two or more of your different talents in conjunction with each other towards a greater goal.
- Keep Moving Forward – Life is not an easy thing. We face opposition daily in some way or another. Don’t let that stop you from continuing to move forward. Let the hurt and pains from your past be a catalyst that propels you into your destiny. Use what you’ve been through to learn and grow personally and to connect with others. Don’t let life’s upsets or disasters be an excuse to stop pursuing what you know you are called to do. Instead, store up those lessons as tools and weapons for your future.
- Place Yourself in Healthy Relationships – This one seems to be a no-brainer, but it’s always worth mentioning. Don’t surround yourself with “yes” men or naysayers. Put yourself in relationships with people who will encourage you in the right direction and speak up when they see something you can’t. Partner with people who are moving in the same direction as you. And, remember, it is better to have a few good friends than a lot of acquaintances.
- Replace Distractions – One thing that I have found is that it isn’t enough to just stop bad habits or get rid of distractions. You have to strategically replace them with something positive and goal oriented or else prepare yourself to pick up a new bad habit or revert to your old ways. Look at the goals you have written down for the year, and determine what you could start doing today to propel you toward accomplishing one of those goals. Stop doing that unproductive thing or get rid of that distraction (I’m sure something has already come to mind), and replace it with the new task that will keep you moving forward.
- Stop Minimizing Your Capabilities – You are capable of so much more than you think you are. Remember when you were a kid and wanted to be an astronaut and a doctor and a singer all at the same time? Get back to that place. Dream big. Set big goals. Don’t downplay what you are capable of. Stop using excuses for why you can’t accomplish what you know in your heart you are capable of. Think about this: Mozart wrote his first symphony at the age of 8, Mary Shelley published Frankenstein at 20, and Vera Wang didn’t begin her career until the age of 40. You’re never too young or too old. You don’t have the wrong color skin or body type. You’re not too introverted or extroverted. Your past doesn’t define you. You are smart enough. You are good enough. You have everything you need to accomplish all the goals and dreams in your heart.
- Don’t Define Life’s Moments – It’s so easy to label things that happen in life as good, bad, frustrating, happy, positive, negative, you name it. We define moments as set backs or victories. But life’s not that simple. And that’s the good news! Things are much more fluid than we like to think they are. Though we like to feel control over a situation by naming it, who knows where that “set back” may lead? It may have been just the thing you needed to get you to the right place at the right time. There’s no way of knowing the eternal impacts of each little moment. So take a deep breath and live. Experience each moment as it comes, take it at face value, and keep moving into the next moment. Eventually, you’ll wind up places beyond what you ever dreamed.
It all boils down to this: Define what you want to accomplish and set your eyes towards it. Let every step you take be in the direction of your goals. Don’t get caught up looking around you at other people or trying to make sense of life. Enjoy each step.
Tap into the greatest parts of yourself and don’t let anyone or anything stop you from making those parts of you even greater. Then go change the world one dream at a time.
In the end, remember the dog and go catch that dream.