This week, we share a guest post from blogger Erin Cooper Reed! Enjoy :)
Have you ever set out to accomplish a dream that just felt unobtainable? Maybe it was a business venture, recovering from a health issue, or finding the perfect relationship. You know that you want it with all your heart but there are just so many obstacles in the way.
It just seems too difficult.
Or maybe low self-esteem is sabotaging your efforts.
On the surface, these challenges present such huge hurdles that we tend to turn them into excuses...
I don't have the money.
If I only had the time.
I don't have what it takes.
I'm not strong, or savvy enough to make it happen.
The truth of the matter is that EXCUSES DON'T GET RESULTS.
The fact is that overcoming challenges leads to opportunities for growth.
So, what can you do to overcome the things that are holding you back?
How can you identify and overcome the obstacles that are standing between you and your dreams?
Before I give you the answer, let me spin you a little tale about a dream I had.
When I was 16 years old, I landed my first job as a bus girl at a local Bar-B-Que joint. I zipped up my polyester black dress that had a white stripe running down the center. My mother told me I looked beautiful. I stood in front of the mirror and cried. The material was itchy and all I could think was that I looked like a giant skunk.
I went to work for minimum wage with little tips, while my father struggled paycheck to paycheck while running his own business to support our family. My mother was an amazing, devoted, stay at home mom who revered her position as the most important job in the world, as she took every measure to meet all our daily needs.
None of my parents' love and sacrifice went unnoticed by me. I dreamed of the day that I could repay them for all that they both had done.
The May of their wedding anniversary, I dreamed of giving them the best card and the most impressive gift that I could find to show how grateful I was for all that they had selflessly provided for me and my sister.
I spent a lot of time dreaming about the perfect card, the most beautiful gift and both of their faces as they opened them. Days passed. I worked. I went to card stores and never found a card that was good enough to capture all that I wanted to say. I spent a lot of time at gift shops adoring things that I could never afford, gold picture frames and crystal momentums that I sought to fill the enormity of the gift I wanted to express.
I attended school and rushed off to work. I also made time to be a high school girl and go out with my friends. Upon returning home one night, the house was dark. It was a school night and I was late. I crept inside and stopped at the refrigerator to grab a drink before going to bed.
I glanced at the calendar. May 17th. My parent’s anniversary was the next day. How could I, with my dream of the perfect gift and all the best intentions, have screwed this up. It was too late to get a gift or even a card at this point. The stores were closed.
I was struck by fear and a sense of failure. Defeated.
I took a deep breath, disappointed in myself, and sat with my head in my hands.
And, then, it came to me.
In the dark of night, I grabbed an old sheet and headed to the garage. I shuffled through cabinets and shelves looking for a can of spray paint. Black. Perfect.
By the dim garage light, I began to spray until I was finished. I stood on the living room sofa while I opened each of the corner picture windows and closed them, as I fastened and hung the sheet. Exhausted, I went to bed feeling satisfied with what I had done.
The next morning, I heard my mother screaming for my father, yelling that the house had been vandalized. I laid in bed with a smile across my face and waited.
My father immediately jumped out of bed to respond to my mother's panicked cries. When I heard the front door open, I decided to get out of my bed and peep out the window.
My parents stood crying on our front lawn. Their fears about a vandalized house were overtaken by the reality that their daughter had draped a large sheet across the picture window that read:
COULDN'T FIND A CARD IN ANY STORE,
TO TELL YOU WITH EACH PASSING DAY,
I LOVE YOU MORE AND MORE.
YOU'RE THE GREATEST PARENTS THROUGH AND THROUGH,
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO THE BOTH OF YOU!
My parents kept the sheet up for a few days for the entire neighborhood to see. They hugged me and thanked me. I told them how much I loved and appreciated them and all that they did for me. It was an amazing anniversary for them, and a moment in my life that I will never forget.
So, what in the world does this say about achieving your dreams or accomplishing your goals? You may be asking, "Where's the part when you tell me how you overcome obstacles and built a million-dollar business?"
Well, I don't have all the answers to that, but I do know this...It doesn't matter the magnitude of your dream...it matters how you approach it.
Whether I was to give you advice on fulfilling a dream for the perfect business venture, or advice on accomplishing your dream on a much smaller scale, the obstacles would be the same.
It’s not unlike my story or your greatest aspiration...
What's standing between you and achieving your dreams?
1. Procrastination - There always seems to be more time to accomplish what you need to than you originally think. It's not your fault, life is busy, but if what you need to do isn't precisely planned? Life will get in the way, every time. Make a point to write down and track your goals. Assign everything a timeline, and follow through. If you put it off, you might as well shut it off. Everything that comes into existence, exists because someone followed a specific plan.
2. Self-Doubt - At some point we reach the realization that our goal is beyond all that we can provide emotionally, physically or financially. It's easy to give up and set it aside. It's hard to face what you want to accomplish head-on with what you have and where you are. Accept what you have now so you can work with it and accommodate your goal to suit your situation. Know it is okay to give what you must give now.
3. Making Excuses - Know that obstacles present opportunities for growth. Embrace them. Every challenge is an opportunity, what you learn will be a stepping stone for things to come. Seek alternate solutions to what life presents to you, and you just might be surprised where these opportunities lead you.
4. Thinking Too Big - It's okay to take a step back from the big picture. It would have been amazing to give my parents an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii for their anniversary. Instead, I gave them a spray-painted sheet. It all worked out. It would be amazing to open a Fortune 500 company, but start small. Open a business that rents office space, or open a kiosk at the mall. It will all work out. Creating a stepping stone is better than freezing and creating nothing at all. Everything is an experience that offers the chance to learn and grow.
5. Faith - You must have faith. If you don't have faith in yourself, who else will? No matter what obstacles life presents to you or what doubts you face, you cannot give up. That's all there is to it. You may not overcome every one of the obstacles that you will encounter, but you will recognize them and that's half the battle. What you do with it is all up to you.
Reaching for the stars may require climbing the ladder, one step at a time. While your biggest dream is waiting at the top, the challenges that you face along each rung will lead to the fulfillment of small dreams along the way, and don't discount all that they have to offer as you obtain the top of the ladder.
Most importantly, take time to enjoy every rung on the ladder as you climb towards the stars.
Erin Cooper Reed is a Domestic Violence Writer and Public Speaker. As a domestic violence advocate, she’s shared her story through numerous public speaking engagements. Erin currently writes a humorous and inspirational blog about the trials of raising three teenaged boys as a single mother. To follow Erin's blog, My Life I Swear, click here.