Updated: Jun 8, 2021
Make your dream a reality. Lazy person's way.
I have so many ideas, tasks and dreams, but not much time. I need to plan my day carefully and decide what I am going to do and what might need to wait until next year. And squeezing in things that bring me joy is a paramount goal of mine. Because life is too short to spend on ‘must do’ things and ignore ‘want to’ opportunities.
But how do you ensure you can accomplish things that are important as well as those that are pure delight? Just like any other to-do items on your list — by turning them into tiny actions.
I always wanted to be an author. Even as a small child, who would walk under the dining table without hitting her forehead, I wanted to write books. I remember announcing that I was going to write a book at my parent’s dinner party. They all were amused and delighted at my directness. They cheered, laughed and teased me about it:
When is your first book coming out, dear author?
Will you still talk to me when you are famous?
I listened to them for a bit, then went into my room and threw a book together. I took a few sheets of paper from one of the notebooks, glued several of them together and wrote a story. I remember it was something about a girl buying a gift for her dog. I even drew a cover for it. Talking about multi-passionate and multi-talented people, apparently, I was one of them. My parents still have this book somewhere in their attic.
It’s easy to dream when you are little. Fear, perfectionism and reality do not overshadow your dreams. So you dream away.
But as I grew older, my fears grew bigger and stronger. The fear of failing, the fear of succeeding, the fear of being laughed at. I started thinking not about how to achieve my dream, but how I might fail with various ‘what if’ scenarios replacing one another:
What if I’m not good enough
What if my book is not good enough
What if no one likes it
What if no one reads it
And guess what happened next? You’ve guessed right. Absolutely nothing. For nearly three decades I haven’t written a single word because I was so petrified of those ‘what ifs’.
Then one day something happened. I was bored and decided to do simple math to see how many books I could have written if I started a few years ago. If we say an average person writes about 500 words per day, I could have written around 10,000 words per months and a book in one year. Imagine how many books I would have written in 5 years?
Something had to change. I have not written 5 books, 5 possibilities that could have been words, could have been someone’s joy and escape, someone’s delight for a sunny Sunday afternoon.
The purpose of this exercise to create an easily sustainable routine. We are trying to break our previous patterns and create new ones. We are building a life where there is a firm place for a habit that brings us closer to our dream, whatever it is.
The process is very simple. There are no secret ingredients. Maybe one — persistence.
Choose one goal that you’ve been neglecting or postponing or procrastinating around.
Decide what’s the minimum time you could spend doing it daily.
Allocate a set time in your calendar for this activity.
Put a recurring reminder and an alert.
Use a stopwatch to make sure you spend the exact allocated time on it, no more no less.
Start doing it. Every single day. Without fail.
Follow these ground rules:
Do not make it perfect.
Do not go back and change it.
If it’s a book, do not edit it after the time is up.
Do not over-analyse it.
Do not talk yourself out of doing it.
I always wanted to write a book. But who doesn’t?
Some of us write books in our heads but never touch a keyboard or a typewriter.
Because there are too many words in a book. The task is too daunting. That’s why I kept composing elaborate scenes in my mind, never to transfer them to paper.
Then a few months ago someone mentioned 750words.com, a website and a community of writers where you are challenged to complete 750 words per day. I decided to try it out and create a new routine, as I had nothing to lose.
Every morning, I have a window of opportunity between 6:30 and 8 am. And without fail, I open this site and write 750 words. Sometimes they are a pure stream of consciousness. Sometimes I notice my characters interacting. Sometimes I can see where this story is going. Sometimes I despair that I am writing nonsense. Sometimes I am extremely proud of myself for getting this far, for finally doing it!
I am still very very scared. But I think that I can spend 20 minutes going after my dream even when my toddler is screaming and my workload is heavy. 20 minutes is possible. But 10 days later those mere 750 words will magically turn into 7500 words and 1000 days later I will have the first draft of a young adult novel. One shitty first draft, but a draft nevertheless. Imagine that!
That’s only 5 months from now. And it’s not impossible because I’m taking tiny steps.
Every time you feel you want to do something but you don’t have time — pause and think about it. Do you want to write a book? Great. Open a notepad and write one or two sentences. This approach will take you forever to finish your book, you might say. And you will be right. But at least you’ll be making proper steps towards your goal. It’s better than dreaming about it and doing nothing to make it a reality. I know, cause I am an expert!
Whatever your goal is, if you take one tiny step every single day — you will get there eventually, slowly but surely.