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    How to Get the Life You Want

    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 be one!

    Ask yourself: Is it time to cash in on a moneymaking idea that will make you feel more self-sufficient?

    Go back to work or open a bakery or switch careers or launch a Web-based business or...?

    On the surface this dream has a lot to do with financial gain and security, but it really arises from a need to find a vocation that has meaning for you—one where your "work self" and your "true self" can meet. As Fortgang puts it, "It's not just what you do, but who you get to be when you're doing it." The hardest part about this kind of goal is convincing yourself that you're qualified to take it on, says Fortgang. Here's how to muster your courage.

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