Pursue your dreams. Reach for the stars. Take a leap of faith.
Pick your cliche; we’ve heard them all before. Our minds are flooded with motivational proclamations and anecdotes about following our dreams and accomplishing our goals in life. And inspired we are! We hear romantic stories all of the time that get our blood pumping and compel us to do whatever it is that we always wanted to do. We read the book; we watch the movie; we hear the song on the radio. And we get excited. We’re going for it this time for sure!
And yet, most of us never move a muscle. We feel compelled to pursue our goals but can’t seem to get past the compulsion. Our hearts are filled with wishes and dreams, but our feet are paralyzed with uncertainty. Great, we have a dream! What do we do with it?
If you haven’t seen Disney’s Tangled, you’ve got to make it a priority. The revised version of the classic “Rapunzel” fairy tale is all about making your dreams a reality. Embedded in this whimsical adventure is an outline for us on how to get from dreaming a dream to actually living it. Whether it be finding someone to fall in love with, creating a great work of art, or landing your dream job, these seven steps can get you there.
It’s time to stop dreaming and start living; here’s how to do it:
#1. Dare to Dream
No, I’m not being redundant. To achieve a dream, you have to first be willing to dream it. Some people never get this far.
For Rapunzel, the great dream is to reach the origin of the “floating lights” she sees every year on her birthday. Although her “mother” never lets her leave the tower, Rapunzel still lines her walls with murals of the lights and clings to the hope that someday she’ll be able to see them in person.
What about you? Do have the courage to dream? Or, are you constantly telling yourself, “That’ll never happen?” You can’t reach a goal that you don’t have. And it’s much easier to drift through life aimlessly than it is to risk suffering the pain and disappointment of failure. But, are you willing to go beyond “easy” to realize a dream? That’s where it starts. Having a dream is table stakes for dream-fulfillment.
#2. Get a Guide
You don’t have to do it alone. It is your dream, but there are many who will be willing to help you achieve it. All you have to do is ask.
Or, in Rapunzel’s case, threaten! Flynn, Rapunzel’s eventual love interest in the story, happens upon the tower accidentally one day with a crown stolen from the King and Queen’s palace. Naturally, Rapunzel does not know the way to the “floating lights.” Determined to get there, she hides the crown from Flynn and agrees only to return it after he guides her to the lights.
Who have you adopted as your guide? Even if you do know where you’re going, a second perspective is always useful. It can be a family member, friend, teacher, coach, or manager. Find someone who knows the way and enlist them for help. You won’t regret it!
#3. Leave Your Tower
To make your dreams come true, you’ve got to get started.
Eventually, you need to move from the realm of thinking to the realm of doing. You need to make a “no turning back” decision that sets you in the direction of accomplishing your goals.
For Rapunzel, this decision is to leave her tower for the first time in her life. Once her feet touch the ground, she realizes that she’s taken the biggest step that she’ll need to take during her entire journey. “I can’t believe I did this!” She keeps shouting as she experiences her newfound freedom.
Have you taken the initial step? Or, are you still stuck in your tower dreaming? Nothing will ever happen until you get started. You’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and burn the bridge leading back to it. Break off the unhealthy relationship you’re in. Buy an expensive set of paints for your first masterpiece. Quit your job. Do something that sends the signal that you are serious and you’re not turning back.
#4. Shun Criticism
Cynics will abound. For every person willing to help you, there will be a hundred telling you why you can’t or shouldn’t go after your dreams. In fact, this is why many people don’t ever try–because they don’t want to disappoint others.
Rapunzel, in order to fulfill her dream of seeing the “floating lights,” must defy her mother–who is always telling her why she can’t succeed. As much as it hurts, Rapunzel’s determination outweighs her doubts, and she pursues her dream despite her mother’s critical remarks.
Who is holding you back? Is it your parents? Friends? Colleagues? No matter who it is, you must learn to disregard anything they say that discourages you from your pursuit. In seeking to accomplish your goals, you will disappoint people. You have to live with that. But the real question is whether or not you’re disappointing yourself. No one else is living your life but you. Thrive on encouragement, and wash criticism off like the filth that it is.
#5. Face the Ruffians
If you aren’t doing what scares you, you aren’t doing enough. Challenges will await you as you pursue your dream and, if your fear outweighs your desire to succeed, you aren’t going to get anywhere. You have to be willing to take risks.
The first people that Rapunzel encounters on her quest are the “ruffians” her mother warns her about. Rapunzel and Flynn enter into a bar full of burly, grotesquely frightening men who leave Rapunzel paralyzed with fear. However, when these men seize Flynn and threaten to turn him in to the authorities, Rapunzel bravely intervenes, crying out in desperation, “I need him to take me to see the floating lights! It’s something I’ve been dreaming about my whole life. Find your humanity! Haven’t any of you ever had a dream?” Stunned, the most frightening of the “ruffians” approaches Rapunzel and, just as you think he’s going to strike her, he bursts into song about how he always wanted to be a pianist. Soon, all the men in the bar are singing about their dreams and the “ruffians” end up helping Rapunzel escape.
Ask someone out. Display your work at the local art gallery. Give a presentation to a prospective employer. Do something scary. If there is no opportunity to fail, then there really is no opportunity to succeed. To make progress, you’ve got to face your fears. When you do, you’ll find that the “ruffians” aren’t quite as intimidating as you imagined them to be.
#6. Enjoy the Journey
The process of fulfilling your dream shouldn’t be a chore; it should be an adventure. There will be obstacles, yes, but you can still have fun along the way. The realization of your dream will last for a moment while the journey to realize it can be rather lengthy. Don’t waste that time in frustration; enjoy yourself.
Upon arriving in the city of the “floating lights,” Rapunzel and Flynn spend the day exploring the city while they wait for nightfall. The moment Rapunzel has been waiting for her entire life is only hours away but, rather than gawking at the sky in anxious expectation, she spends the remaining hours having fun. She paints on the street, she dances in the square, and she reads in the library. She does not let her end-goal take away from the opportunities in the here-and-now.
What about you? Are you having fun yet? Or, are you tired and burnt out from your journey? Determination is one thing; exasperation is something else entirely. Stress is a dream-killer. If you don’t love the journey taken to realize it, the actual fulfillment of your dream won’t mean as much. You’ll find yourself questioning whether or not it was worth the trouble. So, do yourself a favor and have a little fun.
#7. Find a New Dream
What happens when you actually achieve your dream? What then? What if it isn’t all that you dreamed it would be? And what if it is? What do you do after you’ve already attained that which you’ve been wishing for your entire life? At this point, you’ve got to find another dream.
As Rapunzel is waiting in a boat on the river for the floating lights to appear, she poses this very question to Flynn. His reponse: “That’s the good part, I guess. You get to find a new dream.” Of course, Flynn and Rapunzel fall in love and Flynn himself becomes her new dream.
What will your new dream be? Once you’ve accomplished what you set out to do, what will you do then? If you don’t develop a new ambition, you’ll be sticking yourself back into a tower all over again. You see, life isn’t about one huge success; it’s about a series of successes. The successful person is the one who never stops pursuing dreams. You’ve achieved your dream? Great! Now, what’s next?
Dreaming is great. But nothing really happens until you wake up. Are you ready to wake up and do something? Are you willing to put in the work it takes to be successful? If so, what are you waiting for? The realization of a dream awaits you.
Doug Rice is an Internet Sales Consultant for a large automotive group in northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania. He has a degree in economics and is working toward an MBA. As a sales and marketing enthusiast, Doug blogs regularly and actively participates in social media. He enjoys coffee, wildlife, church, and conversation.