Today we are talking about going back to basics. Not in the back-to-school reading, writing and arithmetic sense, but it the sense of shaking off all the accumulated layers of confusion and frustration that tarnish our dreams over time, slowing down our momentum and eventually bringing us to a stop.
So what do I mean by that?
If you’ve got a big, complex dream that you know is going to take a significant time investment before it comes to fruition, something with many levels and many steps and many moving parts, it’s easy to get side-tracked on the way to the end goal.
Because of the long-term viewpoint, it’s easy to lose sight of the day-to-day stuff that needs to happen before you get to the goal. Because of the complexity of all those moving parts, it’s easy to trip over things. And because tripping up and losing track of stuff is disheartening, it’s easy to lose faith in yourself and your ability to actually pull everything together successfully.
Beware the speedbumps
In other words, the bigger and more complex the dream, the more likely it is that you’re going to hit one hell of a speedbump along your path.The bigger the dream, the more complications there will be. You just have to deal with it. #mindset Click To Tweet
Last week we talked about the dark night of the soul – the decision point of ultimate despair that we all have to face along our journeys where we must choose to either give up or to find some hidden well of strength within us to keep going. Today we’re looking at ways to find that hidden strength when we’ve hit the point where we think we have no strength left.
Motivation is cyclical
I’ve said before that motivation is cyclical; there are ups and downs to it. Unfortunately, those ups and downs aren’t always predictable and the length of those ups and downs can vary. And when you’re in an unusually long down-period it can sometimes feel like you will never get yourself back on track again.
You feel as if you’ve completely lost your way and will never find it again. You question whether you were insane to even try in the first place, but you can’t figure out what else you could be doing instead. The dream still matters to you – greatly – even though you can’t seem to get yourself to do the things you want to be doing.
It’s maddening, crazy-making frustration. I was in one of these very long down-cycles myself throughout most of 2017.
Dreams, and people, change over time
I’ve had a lot of time to think about this and I think the reason we get hit so badly with these storms while building the big dreams is that we forget to take natural change into account. Over the years, we get ourselves into the habit of working towards the dream in the same ways and means with which we first started on the dream. But in the intervening time, the nature of the dream has probably changed because WE, ourselves, have changed.
And if we don’t take the time to think about those changes and update our perspectives accordingly, we may be working towards something in a way that is now counter-productive to what we truly want.
Or we may be forging ahead in the original direction… but the dream has changed and is no longer IN that direction anymore.
4 Questions to Re-Align Yourself With Your Dream
When you lose your way – when you’ve lost your direction and find yourself faltering on the quest to build your dreams – the best thing to do is stop and regroup. Ask yourself four important questions to help you re-align with what you want and refocus yourself on how to get it.
Question #1. Is this still your dream?
The first step is to ask yourself just one simple question: Is this still your dream? Everything that happens next depends on you answering this question honestly, so really think about it.
If the honest answer is “no”, then stop trying to force yourself to keep working towards it. You won’t make it. And you’ll just tear yourself to pieces by trying.Dreams change over time. You need to adapt your tactics to keep up with them. #success Click To Tweet
In this case, the best thing that you can do is take some time to figure out what your new dream is. There will always be one, if you’re willing to take the time to look inside and find it.
If the honest answer is “yes”, however, or even “yes, with modifications”, then it’s time to take the next step to rekindle your motivation and get yourself moving again.
Question #2: Why do you want this?
Take some time to reconnect with the personal meaning at the core of what you’re doing. Why did you pick this path or this goal in the first place? Is that still why the dream matters to you? This may sound like a fluffy feel-good exercise, but I promise you this is a profound and critical question.
Unless you understand WHY this dream is important to you, you are at risk of losing your focus – and then losing your momentum – every time things start to get difficult.
Unless you are connected to the very personal meaning that this dream holds for, you will start to doubt yourself every time someone questions the worthiness of this dream or your ability to see it through.
Unless you have a compelling, and fully conscious, personal reason for what you’re doing, you will lose sight of what you really need to do in order to reach your goal.
When there’s no meaning behind what you’re doing, you end up with a lot of “action clutter”. It looks like you’re busy, but what you’re doing doesn’t make any difference at all. In which case, a metaphorical de-cluttering of all the useless action-baggage you’ve been carrying around with you without knowing why is in order.
Question #3: What can you let go of?
Part of the problem with long-term dreams is that we get bogged down with all the stuff we think we have to do, but without the connection to our why, those actions accomplish nothing. Much like a hamster running on a wheel and getting nowhere.
So think about the actions you were taking just before you started losing momentum. Write them all down. Is there anything that you’ve been trying to make yourself do that you don’t need to do anymore, based on your newly re-affirmed “why”? Specifically, what actions can you let go of because they no longer align with that core of meaning? (Think of this step as a decluttering of your energy and vibration!)What’s been working & what hasn’t? Free up time by dropping useless actions. #success Click To Tweet
For example, I did a lot of YouTube videos from 2016 through the beginning of 2017 because I was told by “the experts” that I should. I even ventured into the world of Periscope livestreaming because it was the next big thing and “everyone” needed to be getting into it. I don’t like doing videos, though, and making the decision to stop doing them lifted a huge weight off me.
Once you’re clear on what you don’t need to do anymore, it’s time to get clear on what you DO need to do!
Question 4: What can you DO today?
I got very structured in my approach to what needed to be done over the next couple of years. I made lists of the bigger things I wanted to accomplish. I made milestones that would help me achieve those bigger goals. And then I broke those milestones down into tiny little pieces that could be done easily.
Seeing the overall structure of my dream clearly laid out in an organized way helped to rekindle my motivation to start working on things. I got excited about my dream again and I started to feel like I knew what I was doing and where I was going again.
So, what are the smaller goals that you want to achieve in order to get to your big dream? Pick one and then break it down into smaller and smaller pieces until you get to something small enough that you can do today. (Then go do it. Now.)
If it helps, then just scrap the old plan and start over. This is what I ended up doing with my dream. I tore the structure of the entire dream down to the bare foundation and reformulated my whole approach.
So there you have it, four back to basics questions to help you re-group and rekindle your motivation to build your biggest dream when you feel like you’ve lost your way:
- Is this still your dream?
- Why do you want this?
- What can you let go of?
- What can you do today?
Dreams can and do change over time, and unless we take that into account and take the time to regularly reconnect with what’s truly important to us, we can easily get lost on the way to those dreams. Reconnecting with the heart of our dreams – the touchstones that underlie everything we want to do in life – and going back to basics with our plans when we start feeling overwhelmed will get us back on track to creating the lives we truly want.
Photo credit: (legs and writing) pixabay.com (cc) modified by me