I love to read success stories — both because I enjoy seeing people succeed, and because I want to succeed too. The success stories that I most enjoy include things like paying off a large amount of debt in a short amount of time, quitting a full time job to start a small business, traveling the world, etc.
Responses to the stories usually fall into one of three camps:
1. Congrats, that’s great! I’m working on that too!
2. Congrats, that’s great! I did that too and here’s how…
3. Well, that’s great for you, but I could never do that because blah blah blah.
It’s the last one that gets me.
You see, if you really, really want to do something, you can almost certainly accomplish it if you keep at it long enough. No matter what your circumstances. You just have to quit making excuses and start making opportunity.
And if you don’t really want to do something, go ahead and admit it.
None of us need to do everything. It’s ok to have a 30 year mortgage that you’re not trying to pay off early, to work for someone else as an employee without having your own business, and to be perfectly content with never leaving the city limits. It’s ok to do pretty much anything, so long as what you’re doing isn’t illegal or harmful.
But if you have a dream, and all you can see are obstacles, it’s time to look at things a little differently.
If the reasons why you can’t fulfill your dream keep popping up like a song that’s stuck in your head, go ahead and put the reasons down on paper to get them out of your head.
But then go beyond that.
Instead of spending your time on “I could never do that because…”, change the things you tell yourself. Start out by asking, “How can I find a way to do that anyway?”
In other words, every time an idea of yours is met with a mental “but I can’t do that because…”, respond to yourself with “But how CAN I do it?”
Ask yourself questions like these:
- What could I change?
- Who could help me?
- What could I do differently?
- What could I give up that really isn’t important in the long run?
- How could I make it work despite that?
- What other resources do I have that could help make it happen?
Then do those things. Try, try again, until you succeed.
There are plenty of people who have overcome some pretty massive challenges in life, and gone on to fulfill their dreams. You can too.
Let me end with a little story.
When I was 7 years old, I fell on the ice while walking to school and landed on my arm. It really hurt. I distinctly remember spending the school day staring at a boy who sat across from me who was allowed to use a chalkboard to write with because he had broken his arm. I think he had something helping him, too.
“But MY arm hurts too,” I whined. “It’s not fair!”.
I spent a good part of the day feeling sorry for myself and complaining that I couldn’t do my work because my arm hurt.
Luckily for me, my whining fell on deaf ears.
Finally, near the end of the day I remembered some note cards that my grandma had. They were covered with the most beautiful drawings — drawings made by a woman who used her mouth to draw because she was paralyzed from the neck down.
I figured if that lady could use her mouth to make those beautiful drawings, I could deal with an arm that hurt, and just write with my other hand.
And so I did. After all, an arm that hurt was hardly a big deal. It wasn’t like I was paralyzed or anything. (Thank goodness.)
I went on to break 5 more bones after (what turned out to be) my first broken wrist. Each time I just dealt with it and the awkwardness of the casts, and found a way to accomplish the things I wanted to accomplish despite the broken bones.
That philosophy works pretty well for life in general, too.
Obstacles are there to make you creative, and to help you create opportunities. And even if you feel (or are!) paralyzed, you can find a way.