Have you ever had Dreams of an ‘Ideal Life’? I have always loved dreaming up what this would look like! When things got a bit stressful or challenging I would find myself imagining all sorts of escapist fantasies… living by the beach – or better still on some tropical island… working with a few close friends and imagining myself as some reclusive billionaire surfer… having amazing get togethers and dinner parties with family and friends who always got along well and never experienced a moment of tension of conflict…. playing with my kids and overseas family holidays where everyone was constantly upbeat, enjoying each other and happy…
I have tried numerous times, throughout my life, to go after these dreams with mixed results until I finally understood two very important things: I believe that living a Great Life is possible for anyone… anyone who will do two things: (1) Read, write and follow a basic four step framework to create a Plan and (2) Persevere when challenges arise and flexibly adjust your Plan.
The Life Strategy Four Step Framework turns a complex, mystical and secret code of the successful into four simple (but not easy!!) steps. Firstly, decide what you would like to leave as a positive legacy to those you love when you are no longer around. Secondly, keeping this legacy in mind, dream some big amazing dreams for your ideal life. Thirdly, turn these dreams into goals and stretch goals so you can aim high. Finally, select the most important goals you need to focus on next in each area of your life (Play, Work, Relationship, and Family & Friends) and develop detailed action plans to achieve the goals including plans to manage any setbacks. Then once these goals are achieved – repeat step four on the next goal as you live out your dreams… Simple!
So if Living Your Ideal Life is simply just a matter of following a Four Step Framework – why aren’t we all Living our Dreams? Well ‘simple’ does not necessarily equal ‘easy’ and we are often defeated by things which are quite simple yet not so easy to do. For example it is simple to get up early in the morning each day and head out the door to exercise for an hour before breakfast – but not necessarily easy. It is also simple to skip unhealthy snacks during the day and avoid an extra helping of dessert after dinner at night – but again not always easy to do.
The Barriers to Living Your Dreams
When it comes to Life Strategy ‘simple’ is not always ‘easy’ and we can be defeated by some simple ‘hidden barriers’ to developing our Life Strategy and Living Our Dreams. Here are my Top 4 and some tips to overcome them:
1. Good is the Enemy of Great!
The Barrier: “Good is the Enemy of Great” is not just a famous quote from Business Author Jim Collins but also the key to understanding why very few people spend their lives ‘Living Their Dreams’ – living a ‘great’ life while the majority of people simply settle for a ‘good’ (AKA mediocre) life. Many people feel so overwhelmed and insecure in their lives that, once their basic needs are met they are too afraid to risk what they have already attained for something better and too comfortable with what they already have. By settling for a ‘good’ life they stifle their personal growth and become critical of others striving to change, grow and make a difference in the world.
Overcoming The Barrier: Unfortunately the most obvious way the Good vs Great Barrier is overcome is by tragedy and crisis – where ‘Good’ is no longer possible and we a forced into either complete helplessness or commitment to a larger and ‘greater’ life. However another less stressful way to Overcome this Barrier is to commit more fully to a cause or set some stretch goals. In each case surround yourself with like-minded people who can hold you accountable as you awake from the slumber of ‘Good’ and begin striving towards ‘Great’!
2. Comfort is the most dangerous thing you can have in your life…
The Barrier: “Comfort is the most dangerous thing you can have in your life” is an important saying from Actor, Montgomery Clift. Similar to the Good vs Great Barrier, becoming comfortable leads to complacency and a tendency to avoid the personal growth necessary for a happy and successful life. When you feel ‘comfortable’ you run the risk of laziness and self entitlement. Let’s face it, not taking risks is comfortable, not having to face the challenges of wealth, success, fame and achievement is comfortable, not having to confront our failures is comfortable, being able to blame other people or circumstances instead of trying is comfortable…
Overcoming The Barrier: To overcome this Barrier we need to make sure at least some aspects of our lives are ‘Outside The Comfort Zone’. This doesn’t mean we need to face crises or live in a constant state of risk but rather we need to be regularly meeting new people, having new experiences, and letting go of people and things that are no longer a positive influence in our lives. One of my favourite quotes (author unknown) I use when working with people on this issue is to ask them “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”
3. Not Seeing the Upside of Failure
The Barrier: Fear of failure can stop people from taking their first steps towards their goals. However failure is a normal and necessary part of eventual success. I love the saying “If you shoot for the moon and miss you will still land among the stars’ as this reminds me that failing at big ambitious goals will still take me much further in my life then simply aiming for goals within easy reach.
Overcoming The Barrier: It is important to remember that successful people fail faster and more often than others. So to get on the success bandwagon it is simply a matter of starting to ‘fail’. Start learning things you find difficult – start attempting things that may be beyond your reach and adjust your experience of the feeling of ‘failure’ so that it is not a devastating loss, sadness, stress or anxiety but simply a minor frustration along with the joy that comes from learning how to do it better next time.
4. Fear of Success and Change…
The Barrier: This is quite a nasty and unexpected barrier to Living Your Dreams. When you begin to succeed in achieving your goals your circumstances will change and people around you will also change in their attitudes towards you. This can be either a major blessing in the encouragement they provide you or a major curse in their refusal to embrace change and enjoy the benefits of your success. Jealousy is a powerful curse and you may need to set boundaries around previous friendships and build new networks supportive of your forward direction in life. For some people the fear of change and criticism by valued friends is just too much – so they give up on their dreams…
Overcoming The Barrier: Having some self-esteem and fundamentally believing that you are here on earth for a reason and have a right to be happy and strive towards meaningful goals will be essential to overcome this barrier. It will also be vital that you are OK with being alone from time to time and do not need to surround yourself with people to constantly reassure you. By having a good level of self-esteem and a confidence in yourself and your goals and dreams you will be able to move through the changing circles of friends that are a natural part of growing and becoming more successful in your life!
You Can Live Your Dreams START NOW!
To demystify the world of living your dreams I have created a step-by-step guide to developing your life strategy plan so you can take the next steps towards living your dreams and be able to persevere when needed as well as flexibility adapt and adjust your plans as challenges and opportunities emerge along the way. Start developing your life strategy now! And remember to Dream Big and set Stretch Goals because “If you shoot for the moon and miss you will still land among the stars…’
Ride The Waves of Life!
The Stress Surfer
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