How Do You Do?
We all have a dream, a heart's desire. Most have more than one. Some of us have an entire entourage. This is a book about discovering (or re-discovering) those dreams, how to choose which dreams to pursue, and practical suggestions for achieving them.
And yet, with all of this good news, most people are not pursuing their dreams. When we are not pursuing our dreams, we spend our time and abilities pursuing the things we think will make us happy, the things we believe will bring us fulfillment: the house, the car, the cashmere jumpsuit.
There's an old saying: You can't get enough of what you don't really want.
When the new car doesn't make us happy, we tend to blame the new car for not being "enough," and set our sites on a "better" new car. Surely that would make us happy. Many people are so far away from living their dream they have forgotten what their dream truly is.
It is sad. It is unnecessary. It is wasteful. We have abandoned our heart's desire-and somewhere, deep down, we know it. Even if we don't remember quite it is-we miss it.
Why aren't we living our dreams?
Because there is something we are trained to honor more than our dreams: the comfort zone. The comfort zone is all the things we have done often enough to feel comfortable doing again.
Whenever we do something new, it falls outside the barrier of the comfort zone. In even contemplating a new action, we feel fear, guilt, unworthiness, hurt feelings, and/or anger- all the things we generally think of as "uncomfortable."
When we feel uncomfortable enough long enough, we tend to feel discouraged (a form of exhaustion), and we return to thoughts, feelings and actions that are more familiar, more practiced, more predictable-more, well, comfortable.
The irony is that the feelings we have been taught to label "uncomfortable" are, in fact, among the very tools necessary to fulfill our dreams.
As it turns out, the bricks used to build the walls of comfort zone are made of gold.
Why don't we know this?
The training we received as children-which, for the most part, is fine for children-is not appropriate for adults. The guidelines of an independent, productive adult are not the same rules of a dependent, limited child. What is true for children can be counterproductive for adults. We live our lives as though it were a bicycle with the training wheels still on-limiting, entirely too safe, and somewhat boring.
We no longer believe in Santa Claus, but we still believe that "being uncomfortable" is reason enough not to do something new. The Easter Bunny hopped out of our lives years ago, yet we still let "what other people might think" affect our behavior. The tooth fairy was yanked from us long before adolescence, but we still feel we an justify our personal failure by finding someone or something outside ourselves to blame.
Most people are drifting along in a childish sleep. To live our dreams, we must wake up.
In reading that last sentence, do you feel your comfort zone being challenged? That will happen a lot in this book. That tingling we feel when we contemplate waking up and living our dreams we can label either "fear" or "excitement." If we call it fear, it's uncomfortable; we tend to find reasons not to read any further. If we call it excitement, we turn it into energy that makes the pocess of learning and doing active and enjoyable.
It's your choice. It's always your choice. Alas, many of us have delegated the choice to habits formed long ago, formed when we knew far less about life than we know now. We let habits form when we were two or four or six or ten or fifteen control our lives today.
To change a habit requires work. Make no mistake about it: reading this book will not change your life, just as reading a guidebook to France will not show you France. It may give you a sense of France,but France is France and can only be experienced through action.
And so it is with your dreams. This book will show you how to discover your dreams, how to select the dreams you choose to pursue, and how to fulfill those dreams-but if you don't act upon those how's, you will never see Paris from atop the Eiffel Tower.
Although fulfilling our dreams requires work, the process can also be fun. Which reminds me of a joke.
An Indian Chief greeted a friend by raising his hand in the traditional salute and saying, "Chance!"
"Chance?" his friend asked, "You must mean 'How!'"
"I know how," the Chief responded, "I'm looking for chance."
Please think of this book as your chance-a chance you are giving yourself. Imagine for a moment that you are powerful enough to have this book written just for you. When you have a sense of that power, you'll know that you have all it takes to fulfill your dream. Any dream. Your dream.
F. Scott Fitzgerald met Joan Crawford at a Hollywood party. He told her he had been hired to write a screenplay for her next film. She looked him straight in the eye and said, "Write hard, Mr. Fitzgerald, write hard."
Imagine that I am looking you straight in the eye and saying, "Dream big, dear reader, dream big."
When we discover how easy it is to fulfill personal dreams-even the ones that seem "really big" before they are achieved-we are naturally inspired to fulfill even larger dreams.
Pursuing a Big Dream of your own choosing is the same amount of work as gathering more and more of the things you really don't want. You are going to spend the rest of your life doing something.
"But what about money? But what about time? But what about this? But what about that?" There are a lot of buts to "get off," aren't there?
Let's return to the question I posed earlier: "How do you do?"
That's easy. You do by learning.
And how do you learn?
You learn by doing.
A chicken-and-egg conundrum, to be sure; yet one penetrated by this deceptively simple thought: "The willingness to do creates the ability to do."
For now, simply be willing to do. Be willing to do what it takes to read this book. That takes the willingness to finish this page and turn to the next. That takes the willingness to finish this sentence (which you have just done-congratulations!)
Where does the willingness come from?
As Joni Mitchell pointed out, "It all comes down to you."
I certainly agree, and would only add, "It all comes down to do."