“I don’t expect. I plan.” -Hilary Swank as Alice Paul in Iron Jawed Angels
I’ve always been inspired by feats that women overcame to attain the right to vote over the course of more than 70 years of lobbying for such a fundamental right. As with so many other struggles for freedoms that after long battles and dogged perseverance eventually were granted, prior to being written into law, many thought such pursuits were a waste of time and simply impossible.
While equating chasing our own individual dreams may seem an incongruent comparison to the examples I shared above, I would argue that they are no less important because our attainment of our hard fought for dreams is what brings fulfillment, contentment and ultimately freedom from the life we no longer wish to live.
And on the opposite end, if we expect our dreams to come true without fully understanding how they can come to fruition, we may someday face a harsh reality that we hadn’t expected.
So rather than wishing and hoping and assuming that our dreams will come true, why not insure that it is all but impossible that they will?
How to Plan for Success:
1. Educate Yourself
If you ever have purchased a piece of furniture from Ikea, you know that while simple to assemble, without the instructions, it might seem impossible. After all, how can a full size sofa come in such a small box? It is upon reading the instructions and following them precisely that the box of wood, screws and fabric become a cozy destination to take a nap. Similarly, if you want to become a teacher, a lawyer, a blogger, a writer or a chef, you must do the homework of investigating how to make it a reality. Become aware of the rules, expectations and past history of success stories. Because even if your success story requires that you break a few rules to achieve your goal, you have to understand the rules and why they were put into place to begin with.
2. Be Patient
No one’s road to success is exactly the same as someone else who chased the same dream. Mark Zuckerberg may have dropped out of Harvard, but Sheryl Sandberg graduated from Harvard Business School with high honors, and they both are doing quite well at Facebook. The point is, life doesn’t sync with the due dates you may have put on your inspiration board. So long as you are willing to be patient, keep working and navigate the obstacles that slow you down unexpectedly, success will eventually arrive.
3. Work Hard
Speaking of working hard, it’s absolutely imperative for you to be willing to put in more hours than “just enough”. You will have to work through some weekends, you will have to stay past closing hours and you will lose some sleep. Your life won’t be on this schedule forever, but if you want to get where you wish to be, you will have to put in your time.
4. Eliminate Distractions
The distractions that are negative are easier to let go of – extra jobs, responsibilities, etc – but as you chase your goal down, some of the fun and enjoyable distractions will have to be limited – fewer nights out with friends or dinner parties thrown at your home. For the time being while you work toward your goal, you may have to conserve your time and energy. Again, the main reason for chasing down any goal is to create a better life for yourself, so these distractions that you so love will ultimately flourish more fully once you’ve arrived. Simply communicate to those who will be affected and that you care for why you will have to turn down certain social engagements, and if they love you and wish for you to be happy, they’ll understand and most likely offer their support.
If you include these four items in your plan for success, you will as Henry David Thoreau reminds us, meet with success unexpected in common hours. Nothing occurs without effort, but nothing can be denied to those who are determined to find a way.
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