The best time to start working toward your dreams is — you guessed it — right now.
You know. That thing you’ve been dreaming of doing since you were the age when kindly relatives patted you on the head and inquired, “So what do you want to be when you grow up?”
It never went away, that dream. It may have been pushed aside, deferred, avoided, perhaps even rejected outright.
And now here it is, the year 2018, and that dream is still there, deep inside you, alive and asking, “If not now, when?”
Good question. Answer it with one of your own: “What do I need to do to achieve my dream?”
Sure, right now this goal may seem very far away. But take your eyes off the future for a moment to consider the here and now, and the specific steps you can start taking today:
Identify people who are doing what you want to do. If these are folks you can have access to in real life, great. If not, read biographies, interviews and articles about your heroes. Study their ways of thinking. What habits of mind brought them to where they are today? That’s what you want to copy.
Be willing to sacrifice. Dreams take time, training/education/practice and, very often, money. So you may need to be patient. You may need to go back to school or apprentice yourself. You’ll surely need savings and this may involve giving up hobbies, eating out, vacations — whatever it takes. Not forever. Just till you get to where you want to be.
Start living the parts of your dream that are accessible to you right now, and let that energy nourish you. If you want to own a business, start acting like an entrepreneur—that is, be a self-starter, get comfortable with risk, cease to tolerate inefficiency, build up your creativity muscles, and always strive to grow your network. Needless to say, if you want to be a writer, chef, basketball player, programmer, or painter you should be writing, cooking, shooting hoops, coding, or painting every single day. And so on.
Finally, keep in mind that your dream may evolve over time. Your ultimate destination may not be exactly the one you’re envisioning now. So teach yourself to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Because the best part, truly, is the adventure along the way.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.