How to Get the Life You Want
Step 1: Hunt and gather.
Get your hands on any info you can find about what it'll take to attain your
goal. Read online, check out books and magazines, investigate courses and local
adult-education centers and colleges, and talk to people who've done what you
want to do. Don't know anyone with "connections"? Call associations
that represent the subject area that interests you (if you want to become a
massage therapist, call the American Massage Therapy Association) or visit
businesses related to your dream (Want a horticulture degree? Chat up the
salesperson at your local garden center). "This is a confidence-builder
because it helps squash the feeling that you need to know it all from the
outset," says Fortgang.
Step 2: Tackle your fear.
When you're embarking on something huge that you've never done before, it's
completely natural to be scared. "You're out on a limb without a net and
you don't know what the outcome will be," says Fortgang. Keep your nerves
under control by having an "anchor"—a tangible reminder of your goal
that you can refer to when you start to wonder why the heck you're putting
yourself through all this. That anchor might be anything from a mission
statement that you write in your journal, to an object you keep on your desk,
to a person (your husband, your sister, a close friend) you can turn to for
encouragement whenever you need it.
Step 3: Take baby steps.
You don't need to know how to get from point A to point Z when you start.
Write up a plan of small to-do's that will take you to one milestone, and then
keep repeating the process until you've reached your goal. "The enormity of
the task of writing a book proposal really worried me and my coauthor since we
both have kids and full-time jobs," recalls Colburn-Smith. "Breaking
the project down into bite-size chunks made it feel manageable and kept us
moving from one step to the next." Multiple mini-goals also give you plenty
of opportunities to celebrate your many accomplishments, which will keep you
motivated all along the way to the finish line!
Step 4: Walk your walk.
When your hard work starts paying off—say, you've been accepted to a
graduate school program or you've written half the recipes for your
cookbook—act like the expert you are by identifying yourself that way, which
will help you take yourself seriously. When introducing yourself, get in the
habit of saying, "I'm a writer" or "I'm a chef." Or get
business cards printed up with your new info, as Colburn-Smith did. Don't be
wishy-washy about it: Statements like "I'm trying to be an author" or
"I'm sort of working on becoming a therapist" can mentally sabotage
you, while treating yourself like a complete success reminds you that you will