We live in a culture of instant gratification. We want what we want, when we want it—and that’s almost always right this second. This applies to everything from travel (it used to take months to cross the country in covered wagons, now we complain if our flight’s delayed an hour) to food (think Minute Rice and drive-through windows). But what happens when we apply this need for speed to our life dreams? More often than not, they don’t come true. Here are three things to keep in mind that will help you focus on your dream instead of the clock:
If you don’t start, you’ll never finish. Some people are so incapacitated by how long or difficult the path is to a dream that they never take any action toward achieving it. Picture yourself in your car, parked in the driveway. You have a destination in mind, but you never turn the key in the ignition or put the car into gear, let alone hit the gas. Where do you think you’ll be an hour, a day, a month, a year, 10 years later? Right there parked in that driveway, that’s where!
There’s no time limit. You know why people say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day?” Because it wasn’t. It’s nearly impossible to accomplish something big in a small amount of time. But that’s okay. The slowest runner still crosses the finish line as long as she keeps moving. Last week I told you about my life list of 40 goals I wanted to achieve before I turned 40. You may recall that I didn’t finish until I was 42. In the end it didn’t matter how long it took me to do those things, the important thing was that I did them. The fact that it took longer than I originally planned didn’t make my experiences any less meaningful.
Break it down. If you still have a tough time staying motivated for the long haul, try setting short-term goals that can be achieved quickly. Think of them as mile posts that you tick off as you’re running a marathon. For example, if your dream is to visit Paris but your reality is that you’ll have to save for three years in order to make the trip, use the time to learn conversational French, plan a French-themed party, and pick up a French cookbook and teach yourself how to make coq au vin. These smaller successes will give you a taste of the long-term goal and motivate you to stay the course.