Steph: “Bro – this is what it feels like to live the dream!”
Margaret: “How are we going to do this?”
Me: “Live the dream!”
Random nervous person who is hesitant to approach a hottie at the bar: “…”
“Living the dream” is a catch phrase to some and a way of life to others. I’ve been practicing in my own life what it means to live the dream (LTD). The people in my life are pretty great examples and fellow practitioners of actually doing it, which helps when I need a good kick of “this life is awesome.” The pattern I’ve recognized and synthesized from these different leaders is the following.
1. Create it.
Reflect on what my ideal life could look like at a given point in the future, free from the constraints of my present and my past. I ask myself questions like: “What would I love to do? Where in the world would I be living? How, and with whom, would I spend my time and money?” I create a story, picture, a vision, and lists that encompasses it all. When it is written down in words or pieced together in pictures, it usually generates an emotional response – nerves, happiness, laughter, a sigh of relief. These emotions indicate to me that I was true to what I want in the world. What I create becomes a compass and a guide along the journey – not a destination. These creations become the magnet of life, pulling me forward rather than holding me back.
2. Commit to it.
Make it less of a dream and more of a reality. Maybe, someday, and hopefully will keep the dream a dream. I will and I am declare to myself and the world around me what I am up to. It’s my commitment to living this ideal life I’ve just created. My thought and word choices indicate my level of commitment and sense of power I believe I have in making it real.
3. Let go of the how.
(This is my favourite one and probably the most important!) I occasionally have an exact step-by-step process that, I believe, will get me to that dream. Breaking down big goals into smaller ones is valuable. However, more often than not, I need to let go of the attachment to how I’m going about achieving those goals. This detachment allows people I haven’t met yet to help me, information I don’t know yet to influence my thinking, and external factors and roadblocks to come in and out of the process with ease. When I let go of “my plan” I give myself the opportunity to see how my life is unfolding according to a bigger plan.
4. Take the next step.
One step at a time. One step closer gets me one step closer. Knowing what I want to do next is great. Doing what I want to do next is what creates results. Taking action gives me the opportunity to course correct, to uncover what works, and to actually move closer to what I created. Sitting, thinking, waiting, planning, wishing, preparing for, trying, … are just different levels of commitment (see #2). “I am trying to learn how to play golf” is different than stating “I am learning how to play golf” … and then picking up a pair of clubs. Committing to my action is just as important as committing to my dream.
5. Enjoy it all.
The roadblocks. The achievements. The missed targets. The love. The difficult conversations. The detours. The fear. The this-didn’t-go-as-planneds. The highlights.
The ups and downs of life will always come and go. It is my choice how I respond to each. I become grateful for their impermanence – and then begin again at #1.
As you may see, there are some strong ties to LTDing and vision + goal setting, neurolinguistic programming, faith, and positive visualization. A good reminder that, just like people, no one theory is only great on its own.
So now I’m curious… how do you live the dream?
Pick of the Post: Regina Spektor – The Hotel Song