Practical Steps for Cultivating the Life You’ve Always Wanted

While “creating your dream life” might sound like a romantic, far-flung notion that can be achieved by only the most special among us, in practice, it actually takes a lot of pragmatism and determination. There’s nothing magical about building your dream life — even though some moments along the way might feel like they’re sprinkled in fairy dust. Any one of us can live the life of our dreams, no matter what our circumstances are in the current moment or where we come from. Yes, that means you too. The sky is the limit in terms of what you can accomplish, as long as you ground yourself in these five principles.

1. Shut out the white noise.
Have you ever noticed there’s a human tendency to dictate how things should be done, whether its losing weight, saving for retirement, raising children, or following a career path we’re passionate about? When we’re in the throes of putting ourselves out there in a unique way — whether that uniqueness lies in our process or in our ultimate goal — it can be all too easy to fall into the Fear Trap of all of these shoulds and shouldn’ts “they” like to throw around. It’s especially scary when “they” are loved ones. Don’t buy into it. Your life is uniquely yours and you only have one shot to craft it in the way that feels right and joyous and fulfilling to you. No one has a better vision for your path or your future than you do, and it doesn’t matter how anyone except for you thinks you should live your life. The white noise simply doesn’t matter. Tune into your gut and listen to that because ultimately your voice is the only voice that matters.

2. Find your tribe.
Have you ever noticed there are certain friends or family members you find yourself wanting to hold back from? Or who leave you feeling deflated when you share news of your latest achievements or goals? Sure, these people might have a place in some area of your life, but they certainly don’t have a place in helping you accomplish your dreams. As you’re creating and chasing down your goals, share only with those people who leave you feeling enthusiastic, buoyed up, and newly inspired. Those friends who leave you with a buzz in your belly and a feeling of almost dizzying possibility? They are your tribe.

3. Remove the word impossible from your vocabulary.
You know what happens as soon as you believe something is impossible? It is. Notice the words you use when you’re talking about your future, your capabilities, and what’s possible — both those that you speak aloud to others and those that you speak to yourself through your internal dialogue. Create new habits, replacing can’ts with cans, have tos with get tos, and want tos with wills. This might sound like a small detail, but it’s not. The way we speak acts as a powerful form of reinforcement for what is and is not possible.

4. Put in the work.
There’s nothing magical about making dreams come true. At the end of the day, it requires a lot of good, old-fashioned hard work. Of course, if you’re doing what you’re passionate about and building the best, most exciting version of your life, this work will be the greatest possible investment of your time and effort. And it might not even seem like work — sometimes. The truth of the matter, though, is that at least sometimes it will feel very much like work. You will want to give up; you will wonder why you didn’t choose a less lofty goal. Sure, allow yourself to have those moments … and then keep moving forward.

5. Give your mind time to wander.
Yes, you have to put in the work. Hard work, most likely. But you also have to know when to stop. Our brains need time to let go, to relax, and to meander on creative little tangents. This requires unstructured time and space. I find that I get my best writing done when I’m not writing at all. In fact, it generally happens when I’m driving down the open road in the middle of nowhere without a destination in sight. This is when the words come tumbling out. And so I pick up my iPhone, turn on my Voice Memo app, and let them come as they will. Let yourself be free and just watch what happens. For you, this mental unwinding might happen in the shower, on a walk, or even when you’re playing video games. It doesn’t matter how you get to this point, it just matters that you get there.

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