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How to make your Olympic-size dreams come true.

August 23, 2016

Have you spent some time during the last two weeks watching the Olympics? My family and I enjoyed watching those talented athletes compete, and marveled at their athletic skill and their dedication to their craft. I grew up watching the Olympics, but realized at a certain age that actually competing in the Olympics was a dream that was out of my reach. For most of us, that is a simple fact of life. Only a select few athletes ever reach the Olympics. But the Olympics can teach us all something about how to make dreams come true for ourselves. The men and women who compete at the Olympics are unique partly because of their talent, but more importantly because they learned tools that helped them achieve their goals and make their dreams come true. As a psychologist, I’ve studied and taught courses about death and dying. At the end of their lives, people regret the opportunities not taken. Notice that I didn’t say they reached all of their goals or made every one of their dreams come true. Instead, what people regret is never taking the opportunity to find out where their path toward their dream might lead. We often think dreams can’t come true because we don’t have enough—time, talent, money, etc. In other words, because we aren’t an Olympian. But the truth is that Olympic athletes approach their dreams differently than most people. Sure, there’s some raw talent there that parents and coaches recognized at an early age. But it’s also true that there are other kids with the same talent who didn’t reach the Olympics. What sets Olympians apart? They have tools that the rest of us may not have ever been given. I’d like to change that for you today and give you some of those tools. To put it simply, Olympians reach their goals because their heart, head, and feet are all in line. You can do the very same thing in your life. I’ll explain below how you can do this, and how to avoid some of the pitfalls that stop people from taking those first steps toward making their dreams come true. (This is a blog post you'll want to print out and use as a worksheet.)1. Heart: What is a dream that lives in your heart? Maybe it’s one you’ve had since childhood, or a more recent one. We know something is a dream when we feel a strong emotional connection to it. Here are some questions to ask yourself:What brings you the most joy in your life?What activity makes time seem to stop for you?What would you do even if no one paid you to do it?When you imagine what your life would be like if the dream were realized, you feel joy. Write your dream here:__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________2. Head:Dreams are often not realized because we “get in our head” too much. We (or others around us) come up with lots of rational reasons why we can’t pursue our dream, or at least not right now. What reasons were you given?“That’s just not realistic.”“Maybe you should try _____ instead.”“Make sure you have something to fall back on.”“You should go to college; get your degree first.”“What if _______ goes wrong?” But we can train our thoughts to move us in a positive direction rather than keeping us stuck. What is one decision—one choice—that you can make today that would take you one step closer to your dream?_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________3. Feet:Now it’s time to get moving and take action. Another reason dreams aren’t realized is because we stay in our heads and don’t take action steps. We are often so afraid of “failure” that we stay where we are rather than take any action towards the realization of our dream. However, when people look back on their lives, their biggest regret is not taking action to find out whether the dream is possible. And the real journey is in the steps that you take, not in the final destination. This is sometimes the hardest part. Everything we’ve dreamed up and thought about may seem easy until we have to take action. We might feel afraid that we won’t get there, because the steps seem small and our dream seems far away. This is when we have to remember that it’s the getting there that matters, not where we actually end up. Enjoy each step along the way, even if the steps carry you to a different place than you imagined. What matters is that it’s your dream, and that you keep chasing it.Failure is actually impossible. Keep that thought in mind.Choose action steps that fit within the rest of your life, OR that you can shift things to around to fit. For example, where can you give up a half hour of tv or social media time to accomplish an action step?If there is an obstacle that comes to mind, consider how you can eliminate or work around it. For example, if you don’t have enough money to take the step you imagine, what step could you take that doesn’t require money? How can you save or earn extra income in the meantime? With the above considerations in mind, it’s time to get moving! What is one action step that you could take in the next two weeks that would put your decision in motion?_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ How do you feel now, after completing this exercise? My hope is that you feel lighter and more positive about your future. Your dreams are truly within your grasp, if you are willing to choose each day to move one step closer to them. "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." --Howard Thurman




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