So, in Part 3 we took the first action step towards turning our idea into reality. When you took that first step - whether it was sending an email, making an appointment, booking a ticket - you then gained insight into what further steps might be.
Part 4 is where consistency and commitment become vitally important because, somewhere between taking that first step and actually reaching your goal, there will be (not may be) obstacles, challenges, stumbling blocks and moments where you’ll question your sanity for ever dreaming up such a ridiculous idea!
But there will also be moments of incredible triumph and satisfaction as you tackle each obstacle and find a way to overcome it, and these moments will fuel your commitment.
When we set a goal, we make a choice to direct our energies towards that goal. But that same decision must be made hundreds, maybe thousands of times over. We make that same choice every day. We make that same choice every time we are faced with a decision that impacts our goal. That is commitment. Making a decision, then making it again, and again, and again...until your decision manifests into reality.
In Part 3, I spoke about not seeing the whole staircase, but taking the first step anyway. I often think it’s a blessing that we can’t see the whole staircase in the beginning (and all the obstacles and challenges along the way), or we may well become discouraged and give up before we’ve even begun.
It’s been almost 2 years since I dreamed up this crazy plan to build a house on a tropical island, and despite so many long months of blood, sweat and tears, we still haven’t laid the first brick yet (although it's getting mercifully close)! If I knew then what I know now, I might have had second thoughts, but that’s the point! I didn’t know then, what I know now, but I’ve come this far and I’m certainly not going to quit now. I’ll see this through until I’m firmly ensconced in my own home amongst the coconut palms and banana trees.
In fact, virtually nothing has gone to plan, and that is the very reason I’ve grown so much from this experience. If everything went perfectly to plan, I may well be enjoying the comforts of my own home by now, instead of being crammed into a large group house with my in-laws and extended family. But then again, I wouldn’t be the person I am now. I wouldn’t have been pushed to my limits and discovered that I didn’t break – instead, I grew…and my limits expanded.
Here’s just a sample of the benefits gained from my experience:
It pushed me out of my comfort zone: My husband decided to go overseas and work, so I was left in charge of clearing the land and building a house (both of which I'd never done before). I was forced to go way beyond my comfort zone, and also forced to start speaking the language a lot more, rather than my previous dabbling attempts.
Gratitude: I realized what a blessing it is to have a place to call “home”. Two years with a family of 5 crammed into one bedroom has a way of doing that to a person! When I finally have my own space again, I will cherish it like never before, simply because I have experienced it's opposite.
Anger can be used to our advantage: I realized that anger is a powerful force and it is only “positive” or “negative” depending on how I direct it. Living in an overcrowded house with extended family from a different culture has brought it’s fair share of frustrations. Once upon a time, I would sit in my room and simmer, but I then I began to realize that this really didn't serve me at all.
I decided to channel my anger into ways that served me better. So, each time I felt frustrated by the lack of privacy or personal space, or different ways of doing things, I simply used it as fuel to stay motivated and keep working towards my own home.
Learned to let go: I learnt to not be so attached to possessions. Living in one bedroom means we can only keep what we really need. Not only that, but being in one room with three young children, things are constantly getting lost or broken. You can either let it drive you slowly insane, or you can let it go…
Discovered my own strength: I realized that I am stronger than I ever thought possible. Somewhere between the cockroaches, ants, mosquitoes, rats running over me in the night, fleas, centipede bites, a couple of cyclones, several earthquakes, tropical heat that is so stifling you feel like you might actually pass out, bacterial skin infections, cold showers, washing all our clothes by hand, collecting drinking water by hand, constant requests for help, invasion of personal space, cultural misunderstandings…somewhere amongst all of that, I realized I can handle anything, if I choose to. I can let it defeat me, or I can let it grow me. The choice is always mine. This one lesson alone makes it all worthwhile, and I’m grateful for everything that made such an epiphany possible.
But here's the flip side. The very process of trying to achieve big, crazy goals is that they reveal us to ourselves. They take us way beyond our comfort zone, strip us of illusions, humble us and empower us all at once. And this is why we may come to realize that we don't actually want what we thought we wanted!
One of my friends, when she was in her early 20's and a mother of 2 little girls, set a goal to be a millionaire by the time she turned 30. She worked towards her goal with great dedication. She wrote books, built up a profitable blog, became a mentor and public speaker, and experienced a personal transformation and spiritual awakening.
But somewhere along the way she came to realize that she really didn't care about being a millionaire at all, and eventually moved her goals to suit her new life perspective. Does this mean the experience was a failure? Of course not. If not for her goal, she might never have published 2 books (with another in the pipeline), she might never have built up a blog that motivates so many people to take control of their finances, might never have had the opportunity to help the homeless. Or might never have discovered her true life purpose or "awakened" spiritually.
There is no shame in re-assessing a goal and adjusting or even abandoning it altogether. This is not failure, and not a waste of time, because the journey has revealed things that you can now use to live a more authentic life. How can anyone possibly regard that as failure?
Just be sure that the motive for changing or abandoning your goal really is new awareness of what you want in life, and NOT an attempt to back out of something that scares you or tests your patience beyond your comfortable limits.
But if you look back at the three criteria in Part 1 (do-able, desirable, and in alignment with life purpose) and the answer is still yes to all three, then keep going. Take the first step. Then take another one. And another one. Keep repeating, until you arrive at your destination...
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