Dream Big, Start Small and Live the Life You Desire         

How many of you New Year after New Year set resolutions of what you want to do or accomplish in the coming year?  How did you do last year? How are those resolutions coming along so far this year?  I know it is early in 2014.  Did you write those resolutions, share them with anyone, develop a plan for how to achieve what you want?

If you’re like many, you most likely haven’t done well in the past and are not doing so good thus far this year in realizing your resolutions.  Some of you start off strong and then something gets in the way, you stumble and get caught up in old patterns perhaps sabotaging what you truly want to achieve or experience.  You are not unusual and there is nothing wrong with you as most people fall into the resolution trap.

If what you have been doing is not working no matter what it is, then stop doing it.  Why would you think that this year would be different if you are doing the same thing?  Maybe it is time to adjust your approach to setting and achieving resolutions and goals.

Instead of the usual “resolutions,” I like to set some positive achievable intentions for the year. What about you? Is your list overflowing with big dreams you have had forever? Or are you scared to list your dreams because you feel you will never achieve them anyway?

The first step to living an extraordinary life is identifying what you want. I invite you to try the following writing exercise.

Finish this sentence: “If I wasn’t so [scared, old, broke, etc] I would……..”  What is at the core of holding you back?  For most, it is fear.  Most of what we fear never happens, but that does not lessen the feeling. Naming what is getting in the way reduces the power of the fear or obstacle.

So, what do you really want to do, experience or achieve? Go back to school, take up painting, fall in love, travel, start your own business or land a new job? List as many dreams as you want. Next, look at your list and circle the three that make your heart skip a beat. These are the dreams you were meant for.

Now you’re probably thinking I’m going to make you drop everything and dedicate yourself to your life’s dreams!  Not a bad idea, but I’m not. The New Year brings enough drama all by itself. We set ourselves up with high expectations and then punish ourselves when we fail. I’m suggesting something easier and more rewarding; baby steps.

There is no need to sell all your belongings and hit the road or leave your marriage and run away to Paris to be a painter. That’s more likely to happen in the movies than in our real lives. (If that idea appeals to you though, don’t let me stop you. Be sure to send me a postcard!)

For the rest of us, baby steps are the better option. For this exercise, choose one of your top three dreams. Begin to list the baby steps necessary to achieve that dream. For instance, you want to become a painter. Perhaps the first baby step is visiting an art supply store to browse. Another step is spending a few hours at a museum. How about reading books about painting and then talking with painters. You could start researching local art classes and register for one. Keep it simple and break it down as much as you can.  When you do it this way it doesn’t feel like all or nothing.

Now consider which of these tiny, non-intimidating steps you can add to your life right away – this week!  Pull out your calendar and schedule time for your baby steps. Breaking down our dreams this way allows us to start living them today, rather than waiting until all circumstances are perfect before we can be happy.  You can always find a reason why now is not the right time.  Taking baby steps allows your dreams to take precedence.

By the way, setting resolutions or goals for yourself is not restricted to just a new year.  What about at your birthday? This is a great time to consider if your life looks the way you want it to. Do this writing exercise as often as you need to each year, each month or even each week.  Consider talking with a close friend or working with a coach that can guide and support you. There is no one right way or time to set and execute on your resolutions or goals. And if not now, when?   You deserve the life you want to live!

I want a stronger, fit and more flexible body this year so I am heading out for a run now and a yoga class later this week. I am taking action and it is a start. What can you do today?