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Ahh… it’s another month again, and the one thing that will never be late is the recurring cycle of bills that you have to pay. No matter how much turmoil you may be experiencing, those invoices politely find their way to your mailbox or email inbox in such a timely manner. Or better yet, maybe they are on automatic draft; so the money is transferred from your employer where it temporarily sits in your checking account, and is quickly zapped up by your bill collectors.
10 Ways to Stay Focused on Your Dreams When You Have Bills
If you are a person that secretly desires more in life, but you’re fighting with the reality that you have responsibilities and bills to pay, then this article is for you. If you are grateful for your current situation but feel as if there is something bigger, and better inside of you, then you should keep reading. Whether you have a dream that you’re afraid to tell others about, or if you are “cheating on your job” with your real passion, this article will give you practical advice of 10 simple ways to stay focused on your dreams when you have bills to pay.
1.) Develop A Strong and Positive Mindset
Rest assured that many of us who have transitioned into pursuing our dreams have encountered the same challenges that you’re experiencing. You are in good company, money was also an issue for us. The reality is your bills will not go away(whether you choose to pursue your dreams or not). However, if you have this gnawing away on the inside (even if it’s small), you must answer the call. Your purpose and dreams are much larger than you, and will impact more people than you can ever imagine. I know you’re thinking, “who me? There’s no way that people will be inspired by MY story.”
Yes you, and the reason You are so important is that people are secretly experiencing hardships, financial challenges, and fear; so they do not think it’s possible to even consider pursuing their dreams. They are afraid to move forward towards their dreams; and they want to get everything “ready” before they even consider making any steps forward. “Ready” is a nebulous term that really does not exist. None of us were “ready,” we just took little baby steps along the way. Yes, we were knocked down over and over, but each time we rose up stronger and closer to our dreams.
Hearing your perspective will inspire them, because if you can do it (and you experienced challenges), then they can move forward as well. Remember that your dreams are given to you for a reason, it means that there is a need and a void that only YOU can fill. If you choose not to move forward (as it is a choice), then there will be people who only YOU can help and inspire that will lack what they need when you’re not in position.
If you hold on to this critical point, this will absolutely change your life: what you choose to focus on will expand in your life.
The first step in the journey to your dreams and success is choosing to consistently focus on the life you desire instead of your current constraints. I emphasize choosing because it is indeed a choice. I know some people tend to be more pessimistic or “realistic,” and always look at their situation head-on. There are others who can see great things for other people pursuing their dreams, but do not believe in that same level of greatness for themselves. I was all of these as I began my journey. It does not matter where you are when you start, what matters is that you stay true to the process of developing a strong mindset. Mindset is a powerful tool. As a nurse I took care of a patient with strong faith and a strong positive mindset that beat cancer (which had already spread all over their body)NINE TIMES. Conversely there have been others with less severe conditions who chose to wallow in negative thoughts, and died. It is amazing to see those people where all lab values and diagnostic tests show no evidence that they will live, but they improve, go home and later come back to visit the staff looking great. What are you choosing to focus on? When you find yourself going to a negative spot, stop it RIGHT THEN, and cancel those thoughts with positive affirmations (even if you can’t see anything positive in your life). Words are powerful and can bring changes in your life. All of the steps below teach you how to develop a rock solid mindset.
2.) Use the Power of Visualization
Don’t underestimate the power of visualization. You must first mentally conceive images before they manifest in your life. So after you commit to following the process to developing a strong positive mindset, you must put visualization in your toolkit for success. Take quiet, undisturbed time and think about what you really want in life.
How will your dream look when it’s manifested? If you were living the life you desire, how would it look and feel? Who would you be spending your time with? Where would you travel and vacation? What would life look like if finances were no longer an issue for you and your family? How will the lives of the people you inspire be changed forever? To successfully complete this activity you may need to go to a place that can allow you to freely think and dream.
You will need to clear your mind prior to starting this exercise. This is NOT the time to think of your never ending to-do list, and don’t even think about trying to “squeeze” this activity into a quick opening of a busy day. Visualization is an important step and will require quality time.
It may be best for you to step outside in the nice weather and take some fresh air. Maybe you can find a nice (uncluttered) spot of your home which allows in natural light. It’s possible that certain songs or scents (i.e. aromatherapy) will help you in this process. Quickly find your area, close your eyes and freely think without limits to yourself.
Write your ideas down (I think using a journal is best, so you can refer back to it later), and start putting the images on a board. You can use magazine clippings, clip art, or phases to capture what resonate most with your dreams. Use these images to create a vision board of tangible things that will occur when you are living your dream life.
IMPORTANT: Look at your vision board regularly. If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen, display a collage of important images as your screensavers. Personally, I used my vision collage screensaver as daily motivation as I worked my last job before transitioning to my dream (it works!). You can also change the wallpaper on your phone to an image that really resonates with you. Repetition and constant reminders solidify the feelings and images associated with your dreams into your subconscious mind.
3.) Infuse Yourself with Inspirational Messages.
When your dreams seem buried beneath your never ending responsibilities, you must pour motivation into your life. There are countless motivational speakers who encountered the same (or more severe) challenges as you on the way to their dreams. Hearing their stories will encourage you that it is possible to go after your dreams while encountering major obstacles. One of my favorites when I started this journey was Les Brown.
I actively listened to him on YouTube and purchased his CDs for listening in my car. It is critical that you infuse positivity into your mind because the tuition for living your dreams is paid in-full upfront before you see the desired results. This means that you will encounter many challenges before you begin to see positive results, and you must have a strong mindset to endure. Once you reach your goals and are living your dreams, the tuition will feel worth every bump and bruise and will not seem nearly as painful. Since you likely have a busy schedule, it is crucial that you map out your time and purposely incorporate time to work on your dream. Yes, you will be tired, and it will seem like you’re initially putting in work without rewards.
Hold-on partner, you’re going through a process that will change your life, you can’t expect success overnight. Maximize your time and listen to inspirational messages while commuting, getting dressed, doing chores, or exercising.
4.) Connect with Those who have Achieved Success in the Areas you Desire.
Many people who overcame obstacles to success host live events and have countless products which teach you lessons they learned the hard way. This may sound crazy, but investing in yourself will pay dividends and project you closer to your dreams. When money is tight, the last thing people typically want to do is find money to attend events, or purchase programs. Remember if you continue to allow your mind to stay in survival mode, you will never break the cycle. Use my story to inspire you to take a leap and move forward.
I remember hearing of a women’s empowerment event comprised of successful entrepreneurs who were going to teach the strategies they used live their dreams. Deep down I wanted to go, and for a while I had been following some of the featured speakers online (and listening to them in my car). I knew it would change my life, but I also knew that I DID NOT have the money to attend. When you make up in your mind to move forward on your dreams, the right doors will open for you. I needed money to pay for gas, a hotel room, a ticket to the event, and approved annual leave to go to the event. At this time I was just getting on my feet from being unemployed 9 months (the bills didn’t care that I was unemployed)!I recently just started a job and had been employed only about 3 months. I was literally working hard to get out of financial survival mode, while maintaining all my current bills, and trying to pay off a maxed out credit card(which I accrued during unemployment).
The supervisor that hired me was demoted shortly after I was hired and I did not have an immediate supervisor to request leave. Keep in mind, I knew the discomfort of unemployment, and I really was nervous to even consider requesting any type of leave as new employee. I made up my mind that if it were meant for me to go, somehow it would work out. Since I did not have a supervisor, I had to go up the chain of command to the Associate Chief Nursing Officer. Oh my goodness, I was so nervous. She was in charge of more than 100 nurses within an entire region of my state. Who was I as a new unknown employee (with no seniority) to ask for leave. I got up my nerves, and asked for leave. I was so nervous, but she gave it to me without any hesitation. Thank God! One step closer to the event.
At this time I was a member of a women’s mentor group (yes I invested in myself even during hardship), and one of the ladies informed the group that we could attend the upcoming empowerment event for free if we were willing to volunteer. FREE!! That worked perfectly for my budget! I contacted the coordinator about my willingness to volunteer. She told me to get on a conference call to discuss the details of my duties. Before the call ended, I felt this feeling in my gut to step outside my comfort zone again. Although the call was ending, and I was SO NERVOUS to even speak, I unmuted my line and asked if anyone needed a roommate, or if anyone was traveling from North Carolina to the event. The call fell absolutely silent, and I was so embarrassed. A few moments later someone spoke up on the call and said they were also looking for a roommate. Immediately afterwards, someone else spoke up and said they were driving 7 hours to the event and I could ride with them. This person coincidentally only lived one hour away from me. What if I would have been too afraid to unmute my line and ask for a roommate or carpool?
In the end, I obtained annual leave from someone who didn’t know me, gained access to the event for free, did not have to drive the 14 hour round-trip, and split the hotel cost (one of my nights actually ended free so I only paid 50% of one night’s stay for the entire weekend). Use this as motivation for the next time you look at your bank account in order to determine if you can invest in yourself. I did not have the resources but I had a determined mind, and I literally pushed myself outside of my comfort zone to make it happen. This one event changed my life forever, and definitely catapulted me into another level of success.
5.) Be Careful with Who, and What you Allow to Pour into Your Mind.
You already know the negative people in your lives. Stay the heck away from them in this process! They will not magically become positive supporters just because you choose to follow your dreams. Beware of “friend-omies,” these are enemies that disguise themselves as friends while you’re pursuing your dream. Negative people can come in all forms: family, co-workers, friends, etc. It may not be intentional, but their attempt to protect you. Remember they are giving you advice from the best of their abilities. They may not be living their dreams, so how can they advise you to live yours? Their personal fears and desire to protect you should not hinder your vision. Remember your dreams are worth protecting.
6.) Obtain a Strong Mentor.
You need someone that is willing to personally guide you through this process. Great coaches shorten your learning curve, and they take pride in helping you achieve success. When you meet them (in person or virtually), there will be something about them that personally resonates with you, and you will want to be in their presence more because of the value they add to you. When they speak, it will feel as if they are speaking directly to you, and know your personal situation. Their story may have some portion that you can relate to, or something that inspires you. Evaluate your personal needs and ask yourself, is this the person to help me at this phase in the process? Also, look at their track record, program components, and their testimonials. Yes, you will probably have to invest in yourself to get a strong coach. Remember tuition is paid up front in your dreams, and you deserve the best. You are investing to receive specific outcomes in your life that they can help you to achieve.
7.) Develop a Solid Morning Routine.
How you start your day can help determine how your day will progress. Inevitably you will encounter challenges, but when you have intentionally developed a fortified mindset before leaving your home, it is much easier to put challenges into perspective. Important mindset activities include: prayer/meditation, journaling, exercising or stretching, affirmations, focusing on your vision board, reading or listening to inspiration. Intentionally giving yourself quiet time in the mornings is so important. I know this sounds crazy and PAINFUL, but just know that the power players who are living their dreams have a strong intentional morning routine. If you want the results you must plan for success. The time before things get hectic, and the rest of the house is still asleep is key. Use this time to pour in positive thoughts and start your day off right.
- Here’s what I do: write just a few minutes in my journal about things I’m grateful for (and things I’m looking forward to in the future), I take a few minutes of quiet time to visualize the things I really want in my life, read something inspirational (usually I read a few favorite scriptures), I look in the mirror and boldly state positive affirmations about my life (may sound crazy but spoken word is so powerful), I pray, and I stretch (or exercise) for just a few minutes.
You may not be able to squeeze this in everyday depending on your schedule but make it a habit to do as much as possible (it took me a while to get here because I like to press “snooze” on my alarm). Feel free to tailor according to your personal needs and preferences. This may sound like a lot to squeeze in one morning, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. An hour is ideal (allowing 6-10 minutes per activity), but realistically, even a few minutes of any of these activities can start your mornings off great. Start where you are, and nothing is too small or insignificant.
8.) Remove Yourself.
We’ve discussed the importance of attending events. I’ll add vacation and rejuvenation to that as well. You cannot effectively serve without self-replenishment in whatever form it takes. Just as vehicles need gasoline, we need fuel as well. This may come in the form of vacations, weekend getaways, relaxing massages, connecting with like-minded people, taking a random or occasional mental health (stress relief) “sick day” from work, etc. I emphasize random and occasional with your days from work. Remember this is your current means, don’t be foolish and jeopardize the vehicle that you are using to fund your dream. Use common sense and don’t create patterns for yourself (calling in sick on a day before or after the weekend is NOT random). For those moments that you cannot physically remove yourself from stress, you must learn how to mentally remove yourself. This is where the inspirational songs and positive messages come into play.
Honestly, many frustrations we encounter in our daily lives or on our jobs are really small in the larger picture of our life. Think about it, do you remember what stressed you out on March 13, 2013? Neither do I; but yet we tend to focus and harbor on obstacles that are really no big deal. You need to focus on the aerial view of your life and not the daily challenges that seem to be elephants, but are really ants. For example, consider the difference in how things look up close versus how they look from a plane. If you look at your challenges up close, they will seem so large. However, if you choose to take the aerial view from the sky, those large things do not seem so big after all. There is no need to expel energy on stress and insignificant challenges that are probably not in your scope to change. You only have a certain amount of energy each day, if you expend it in frustration, you will have less energy for your vision and dream. Hence, it gets pushed further back on the list, making it harder to conceptualize in your life. Your dream is a priority so you must FIGHT to keep it in the forefront of your mind.
9.) The Power of Connection and Accountability.
This journey is not intended for you to travel alone. You need positive people who are going on this journey with you. This support will encourage you during the difficult times. Furthermore, you need someone to serve as your accountability partner who understands your journey. We all can fall short when we have no one to hold us accountable (especially for something that’s already scary and outside of our comfort zone). Accountability partners should both support the small accomplishments and hold you accountable for goals you set at regular intervals.
10.) Stay FOCUSED on your dream.
As you began to develop your mindset, your perspective, habits and actions will change. This will be very appealing to your employers because they will see new-found potential in you. This will be perfect for their upcoming project and committees. It may even come in the form of promotion. This appears great right!! Now your money issue is solved. No!!! It’s a deceptive trick to steal from your dream. Now you will have to learn new roles, assume greater responsibility, expend more mental energy, and likely put in more hours. Which in term deprives your dream like a wilted plant. Don’t fall into temptation, even if it looks like a great offer.
I applaud you for taking the first step by reading this article. You are already so much further on the journey just by the nuggets you gathered from this article. I encourage you to print this, review it regularly, and share with others embarking on this journey. Reaching your goals is a layering process, and this is just one of those layers. You must make conscious efforts to re-read, and re-listen to anything that will help you towards your goals. Remember you have everything inside of you that it takes to live your dreams. Visions are not given to everyone, but to those who can make them come forth. It’s no coincidence that you read this article, and the right doors are already waiting for you to come and turn the knobs. Stay true to whatever process is required for you, and just know there are many of us who are rooting for your success!