Dreams Don't Have Deadlines
I spent much of my 20’s and 30’s telling myself that certain life dreams had deadlines and if I didn’t achieve them by a set age, then they expired. A few of my lifelong beliefs:
Move to NYC by 30 or not at all
Write a book by 40 or not at all
Try a new career by 50 or not at all
Lies, lies, lies. Of course, I know these are lies, but somehow I still set these random and false dream deadlines for myself. Does this sound familiar? You might have set an age limit on some of your dreams. Creating an Etsy shop. Starting a rock band. Learning how to code. You might also think, like I did, that people would make fun of you or give you side-eye for going after some of your dreams later in life. Like you were grasping onto your youth or trying too hard. Which we both know isn’t true and is just our insecurities coming out.
Today I’m challenging myself (and you) to let go of the dream deadlines. Your dreams have no idea how old you are and, even if they did, their response would be, “So what? Tell me more about this incredible dream you have.”
For me, the past few years have been a practice in breaking through my dream deadlines. It started with my decision to move to NYC at 38 (8 years past my self-imposed deadline). When I did that, a whole world of possibilities opened up in my mind and spirit because I saw that the deadline wasn’t real. The world didn’t implode when I moved to NYC. The universe didn’t stop me. I wasn’t denied at the airport with my 1-way ticket. I moved like a boss babe and it’s been one of the best decisions I ever made.
That one decision made me rethink so many things in my life and break even more of my mental barriers: in my late 30’s I became an authority on success and happiness with Sips of Sunshine. Now I’m starting a Podcast in my 40’s, becoming a first-time novelist in my 40’s and becoming a public speaker in my 40’s. And that’s just the beginning.
I have big dreams for my life. Huge. I know you do, too. Maybe you thought you could only spend a month in Europe before you had kids, but now you have kids so you think it’s too late? Maybe you always thought it would be fun to start a cookie company, but you have a full-time job and a sick family member and life is just too busy and now that dream feels impossible (you know who you are). Maybe you’ve always wanted to take a painting class.
Start here: create a list of your dreams. No rules. Forget reality and forget money and forget everything else going on in your life and how old you are and how you missed the opportunity a decade ago so your “punishment” is to just dream about it for the rest of your life. Forget all of those lies and just write. Big dreams. Small dreams. Expensive dreams. Free dreams. All of your dreams.
Choose one. Pick a dream you thought had passed. If the only thing holding you back is your age, do it now. It can be wild or modest. Silly or serious. I really don’t care and neither do your dreams. They just care that you take a step towards them. That you acknowledge them. That you don’t ignore them.
If there are other factors also holding you back (money, time, resources), then do one thing to get you closer to that dream today. Write a list of the steps needed to achieve the dream – simply voicing it out loud totally counts as a step – and steadily check off those steps one at a time until that dream is within reach. Then grasp for that golden ring.
You were meant for more. And that “more” is the whisper you hear that tells you to try something. That “more” is the stirring in your soul you feel when an idea floats by you that doesn’t excite others quite as much as it excites you. That’s because it’s not their dream. It’s meant for you. You wouldn’t dream it if it wasn’t in your soul to achieve it.
What about those old dreams that don’t feel right anymore? That’s cool. I dream a LOT of dreams that I simply let go of over time because they don’t feel right to me any longer. I wanted to live in Europe for years. I happily let go of that dream one day. It didn’t feel right to me any longer. But if you have a dream in your heart and in your soul, figure it the heck out.
I have a dream to write a novel. I believe in my heart it will be a huge success. But success isn’t only defined by book sales. Success, for me, is defined by simply putting the words on paper. I love the process of writing as much as I love the dream of being a famous published author. I’m living my dream by writing the book, not by publishing it (that’s dream #2). And for the next year, if I dedicate solo weekend getaways to writing retreats or don’t make Sunday brunch plans so I can work on my novel, you’ll know it’s because I’m in love with the process. The writing is the dream. How blessed am I to have friends and family who support my dreams.
I said it in my last post, but it keeps swirling around in my heart so I’m going to say it again: they say the days are long and the years are short, but a year (and often a lifetime) is really, really long. Live your dreams.