“If not now, when?” -Eckhart Tolle
We all want something better for ourselves: we want to be better writers and live our dream lives every day. We want to meet inspiring people and we want to be kinder to each other. Really, we just want to live in a better world.
To do that, though, we need to actualize our potential to start living the lives we know we’re capable of living today.
Regardless, the more you seem to want something, the more things seem to stay the same — and sometimes, you can’t always get what you want. Although you can visualize your success and it can do wonders for your mindset, no amount of dreaming will ever get you closer to your dreams in the end.
There’s no perfect time to follow your dreams. There is only this moment right now. And it’s when dreaming becomes doing where the true magic happens.
Stop waiting — the stars will never line up just because you want them to.
You have to do the work and put your nose to the grindstone if you want to succeed because no amount of wanting will make your dreams come true.
Here’s how to get moving and take action on your dreams today.
When Dreaming Stops Us From Doing
Through growing up into adulthood and stepping into the person I am today, I always wondered about when the right time to follow my dreams would be and when that time would come for me.
I wanted nothing more than to be a writer and write for a living. I dreamed of it in the day and at night; I constantly dreamt on my future success as a writer and I fantasized about what it would be like. I waited for something, some sign to tell me it was right or some message to tell me it was okay to follow my dreams now (like I always needed some permission to do so).
I wasn’t waiting for the Muse, or even someone coming up to me and telling me it was okay to follow my dreams and be me — no, all along I think I was just waiting for myself to know it was okay to be me and to step into my skin and face my doubts and my fears and breathe.
But the stars wouldn’t line up just because I told them to, even though I always thought they would somehow.
Although I convinced myself I was waiting for this magical moment where everything would fall into place and it would all feel so right, I was only serving to kill my dreams from ever blooming into reality.
Simply put, I was living in a fairy tale, and I needed to snap myself out of it and soon.
Why Doing The Work Is More Important than Anything Else
I now know these hesitations I was feeling all my life to be what Steven Pressfield calls the “Resistance,” which is that magical force that keeps us from doing the work for so many different reasons (because we’re waiting for inspiration, for the Muse, for approval, for recognition or something else).
When we forget to take our work seriously, we lose the ability to become a professional writer and effectively battle the Resistance — instead, we remain amateurs and stay stuck in the struggle, because despite all our dreaming we complain and let ourselves be taken down by regret and excuses and benign reasons like these, however compelling they may seem (even though they are completely inane).
I can think of nothing more potent to halting our progress than the almighty Writer’s Block, that thing we use to justify our inability to create at times, despite our inherent need to do so as writers.
But isn’t this crazy? Isn’t this insane when we could just sit down, do the work, and power through our doubts — when in fact we could let our doubts fuel our work itself?
Yet instead we get caught up in the what-ifs, the has-beens, the will-nots.
You’re A Writer, And Writers Write
Now I know I’m a writer, and what do writers do?
They write. They create new worlds. They help people get on with their lives in the best way only they can.
And you can create too, if you only sat down and revelled in your thoughts and did the work.
You don’t have to be ready to do the work; you just have to accept that the work needs to be done, and then do it. That’s it.
There’s nothing stopping you from conquering the blank canvas and creating a beautiful picture for the rest of the world to see. There is only the Resistance and your ability to push past through it. There is only the almighty Writer’s Block, and your ability to power through it and choose to conquer the blank page instead (any words here will do, I promise).
What’s Stopping You From Writing Today?
Is there ever a time when it’s right to follow our dreams? It’s hard to say, but there’s no perfect time to do anything. And I hate to break it to you, but the stars won’t line up just because you told them to.
There’s no time when everything is right, when the stars are all aligned, when we can put ourselves out there and be accepted without a doubt.
Yet, is this okay? We’re plagued by doubts constantly, but should we leave them out of our lives completely?
I don’t think so — I don’t think it’s possible to live a life free of doubt, no matter how hard that can be to fathom or digest.
Is there ever a time when it’s right to follow our dreams? No, because time always shifts — but the now is eternal. It’s here to stay and it’s here for you to take action in.
We don’t have to wait until we have a catharsis to follow our dreams, or until something major happens to us to follow our dreams — no, we have the power to do something about our lives right here and right now.
So why do we insist on burying our feelings, when the truth is staring right in front of us, bearing us down and digging into us? Why do we insist on following a different course than the one that we know we must follow, even though we know it is the right path to go on?
If we don’t follow that path, what will happen to us?
We’ll lose everything. We’ll lose our humanity, and with it, our emotions will be buried underneath the ground for no one else to see even we leave this world. Because we’ll have left it with our words still stuck in our throat, gasping for the air we refused to give them.
And do you really want that for your dreams?
Are You Ready to Fall Into Your Calling?
There comes a time in the life of any creative person when they realize that they’re a creative, deep down. That they’re an artist, a thinker, a dreamer, but not yet a doer.
As Steven Pressfield says in the War of Art, we only become professionals when we start taking our work seriously. That’s what separates us from the amateurs who want something, but never truly go after something with everything they’ve got.
So what’s stopping you from going after it? What’s holding you back?
The amateur doesn’t take his work seriously — he doesn’t commit himself to his art every day, be it writing or doing the work. He talks about doing work more than actually doing the work itself, or at all; and because he’s not a professional, he doesn’t take it seriously.
I’ve been an amateur my whole life. But in these past two years, I’ve grown into being a professional. I’ve focused more on my art and committed myself to the writing process no matter how hard it can sometimes be. I’ve declined nights out drinking with college friends to shut myself in my home and write, and in some ways completely pulverized my social life to commit to doing the work and making writing my craft.
I’ve lived off a shoestring budget in the past, living off cheap pasta sauce, peanut butter sandwiches, and lots and lots of oatmeal. Caffeine has become my best friend, long nights and early mornings my soul mates, and solitude my closest companion. Before meeting my girlfriend, I also put aside dating or any hopes of a relationship to build up my writing business, and it was lonely as hell. Yet every part of my journey to get to this point where I can call myself a professional, full-time writer has been worth it.
Some people might think I’m crazy, but I don’t. In my mind, I’m perfectly sane.
Now, writing has become a part of my daily life. I find it hard to be around people who don’t understand this and compel me to get a “real” job. Because what I have and what I’ve created is just for me.
I don’t want a real job, I tell them. But they’re not listening, because they’re on a different playing field for me. Here, I’m playing for keeps, and I don’t have time to be around people who don’t see my mission not even as the “right” one, per say, but as the sane choice and the downright logical one.
The Best Time Is Right Now for Everything that Matters
When I was growing up, I always knew I’d be a writer but I derailed those dreams because I didn’t believe they could become true. And the more and more I thought about them, the more I ignored them because they always seemed so far away.
I wasn’t much of a reader growing up, but I always loved a good story, no matter the medium — so video games, movies, tv shows, none of it was off the table. But what I really loved was the power of the written word, the elegance of a well-spoken set of words in a sentence, and the art others make that could transform me into a different world in ways anyone could understand.
When I’m out, I’m thinking about a post I wrote and how to fix it. I’m thinking about a podcast I listened to, or a book I read, or a piece of advice that’s been on my mind. Or I’m thinking about how to make my online course “Writing Mastery” even better than it currently is. You might call this obsessed, but I simply call it living and breathing my craft.
A good friend of mine once gave me great advice: he told me never to become like everyone else trying to sell you something and to always keep my message real. And I think if he was standing here right now, reading this, he’d tell me to keep my message pure, clean, and filled with practicality and value.
Too many of us give in to the demands of others and allow them to control our schedules. We “go through the motions” and go with the flow even if it’s contrary to our own beliefs.
But no more. Because the more we do that, the farther away we will be from success, and nobody needs that.
Your dreams deserve better: stop waiting for the “right” time to pursue them, because it doesn’t exist.
Instead, go and write. Stop dreaming of your success and create it right now, because this moment is all you’ll ever have to create your greatest work imaginable.
Best get to it then.