What’s your heart’s desire?
Is it big? Huge? Tiny? Boring? Wild? So tame you’re embarrassed to admit it?
Have you admitted it — even to yourself?
The Starting Point
We all have secret dreams. They’re the things you’re scared to let out into the light. Afraid to name. Hesitant to reach for in case you fall short. I have them. I bet you do, too. We hide them, tuck them under the rug. Pretend they don’t exist.
It’s terrifying to actually consider pursuing these shadow dreams. What if we fail? What if they elude our grasp? This is the place of fear from which many of us are starting.
Here’s the thing: you won’t know until you try. Don’t underestimate yourself. You are capable of accomplishing great things once you turn your mind and heart toward them. But if you keep your dreams secret even from yourself, you’re never going to achieve them.
Step 1: Admit It
To start the process of achieving your dreams, the first thing you have to do is admit they exist. Start by confessing them to yourself. What do you fervently, desperately, quietly want to accomplish? They can be anything at all: the kind of person you want to be, where you want your career to go, hobbies you want to learn, events you want to participate in — anything you truly long to do.
If you’re having trouble — and I’ll admit I did at first — look around you. What how-to books have you bought but never opened? What do you read about online? What have you tried a couple of times and enjoyed but backed away from? Whom do you admire? What makes up your daydreams?
Now make a list. Start with “I want” and go from there. Type it out, grab pen and paper and start scribbling, fire up your webcam and capture the outpouring on video. Whatever works for you. Be specific when you need to and general when you don’t.
Me? I opened up a text file and let my fingers fly. Here’s what I came up with.
- to be an amateur gardener
- to take beautiful photos (and especially to learn to capture light)
- to be more mindful
- to build up a collection of simple, nutritious, delicious recipes that are in harmony with the way I eat
- to make creating an integral part of my life
- to be an authentic and genuine person
- to rely more on cycling as a mode of transportation
- to be a runner (5-10k level)
- to spend out
- to explore minimalism and lagom
- to learn my husband’s native language
- to keep in touch with far-flung friends and family
- to read more quickly when reading for information (blogs, magazines, nonfiction, etc. — not necessarily novels)
- to practice yoga regularly (both on my own and as part of a class)
- to be constantly learning
- to always push myself and reach
- to sharpen my piano skills
- to learn to play guitar (basic chords, nothing fancy)
- to spend time near the ocean
- to get regular massages
- to be quick to laughter
- to be able to contribute to my family’s income doing something I really love
I know there are more. They will come to me. But for now? Oh, it feels so good to get those off my chest.
Which brings me to my next point: for extra accountability, share your newly created list with someone. You’ll be amazed by how much more real it will seem and how much more committed to it you’ll feel. (Thanks for being my someone to share with!)
When I look at my list, I notice: nothing on there is huge or scary. There’s no “climb Mt. Everest” or “become the next Jeopardy winner.” That’s totally okay. Dreams don’t have to be big (even though they can be). They just have to be yours.
When you give words to something, you solidify it. You make it real. You can list it, discuss it, make a plan for how you’re going to achieve it. But best of all? You show yourself that you are serious, that you believe in your dreams. It’s the first step toward making them happen.
Step 2: Do It
“Memorize and follow this never-fail recipe: get started. Don’t quit.”
That’s it. Pick a dream, figure out what you need to do to start pursuing it, and do it. Start small if it feels safer to you, or go big if you’re feeling inspired. Beginning is often the hardest part, so focus on finding that first doable step. If it’s something you really want, you’ll pick up momentum from there.
You’re probably not going to be able to work on every dream at once. Some you may not even be ready for yet. That’s fine. Choose something you’re ready to reach for right now and get to work.
Me? I’m using this site as a springboard. I’m just beginning to explore minimalism and lagom with my Project 365. Granted, I have a loooooong way to go — but that’s okay. Writing here is also encouraging me to be more authentic. That recipe collection? I started compiling my favorites a few days ago. And I’m planning more projects as we speak.
There are some goals I have to defer, at least in fully realized form. I live in an apartment with no outside space, so my gardening will be limited to houseplants for the time being. I don’t currently have the budget for regular massages. There are other dreams on my list that scare the stuffing out of me. But I’m done being intimidated by the things I want. That’s just plain silly!
A final note: It’s okay if what you thought was a dream turns out not to be. Don’t get hung up on your list. Use it as inspiration, not as a must-do list.
What secret dreams have you been keeping close? How do they make you feel? What can you do to start making them happen?