This is a guest post from my friend The Naked Redhead, a blogger who must (ingeniously) get more accidental hits on her blog than anyone else out there. She’s got some great advice about how to avoid deluding ourselves but also to appreciate our failures. Enjoy!
by The Naked Redhead
Last summer, I decided that my little, neurotic shelter dog could benefit from a better daily walk. So I purchased some in-line skates.
(This delusion is what one gets when one happens to watch a marathon of the Dog Whisperer while not entirely sober.)
Did I mention that I hadn’t put on any sort of skate in over ten years? And that my dog happens to bolt when he hears strange noises? And that I hadn’t skated in over 10 years?
To make a long, painful story short, I ended my skating session with a bad case of road rash, a dog in the early stages of PTSD, and a newly forged personal vow to never, ever skate again.
But I knew it
The thing is, I had big dreams about my little adventure. I mean, I just knew that I could skate. I saw myself gliding sexily down the street, sans knee and elbow pads, hair streaming in the wind while my dog cantered happily beside me. I was so sure of my success that I even dropped some serious cash on top-of-the-line skates. I was set to be a winner in every way. And I WAS a winner…you know, if you consider “winning” to be the part where I DIDN’T hurtle headlong down a hill like a water-skiing Quasimodo towed by a yelping, petrified dog.
But what I learned (rather painfully) last summer is that dreams are not enough.
WHAT?! “Dreams are not enough”? Yeah, that’s right, your first grade teacher was WRONG (not about everything. Sometimes candy really does make boo-boos better). Sorry to disappoint you…but you can dream, and dream, and dream, and if that’s ALL you ever do, you will never realize your aspirations.
(That is, of course, unless some merciful benefactor does indeed give you a billion dollars tomorrow. That could totally happen, and if it does, I apologize for my skepticism.)
Anyways, as anti-Miss Henderson as it is to say so, your dreams themselves are not enough. Bummer. Fortunately, this fact alone doesn’t mean your dreams can’t come true. Here are three “Do-but-Don’ts” essential for making your aspirations a reality:
1. Do Dream Big, But Don’t Forget to Practice
Reach for the stars, envision that milestone, and imagine your supreme potential, but also mark your path, set mini-goals and practice, practice, practice. Don’t expect your blog to zoom to number one if you’re not dedicated to writing every day. Don’t expect to wield those kettlebells if you’re not willing to train. And don’t expect to take your dog for a walk that involves in-line skates if you don’t know how to, well, stop. Or skate. Practicing means that you will be ready when the opportunity to fulfill your dream arises.
2. Do Practice, But Don’t Forget that Failure is Inevitable
Oh failure, you beyotch. Failure just…hurts, right? There’s that old saying, though, “Failure teaches success.” Well bugger. It seems, then, failure is part of the fabric of our dreams. You will write that ill-thought-out blog post that offends your loyal readers (been there, done that), you’ll burn out before that final set, and you’ll get a bad case of road rash on your ass when you try to skate your dog.
If you understand a few things about failure, however, it can be as exciting as it is painful. Failure can help us re-channel our energies, can make us re-start and re-focus, and can allow us really see just how strong we are. Don’t dread failure–it will happen–instead, see it as an opportunity that will bring you one step closer to getting what you want.
3. Do Embrace Failure, But Don’t Forget to Persevere (and Appreciate Small Successes)
If your dreams are worth the effort, then go get ’em, Tiger (no pop-culture reference intended). Do not let failure stop you, and especially do not let not-quite-achieving your big end goal discourage you. Lots of bloggers want to be the next Heather Armstrong but will get frustrated because they haven’t garnered that book deal yet. Others will want to run with the fitness big dogs, but get upset when they seem to plateau. Or an in-line skater will put away her skates when she falls on her dog and almost kills him. Keep dreaming, kids, and keep trying.
And along the way, appreciate the small successes. Maybe you haven’t picked up that book deal based on your blog, but you post quality stuff five days a week, and more people than just your mom read your musings. ROCK! Be proud of your discipline to write every day (at least you’re not one of those blogs that consist entirely of posts that start with the sentence, “Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile…”).
Maybe you’re not squatting your bodyweight yet, but you’re in the gym six days a week and you’ve absolutely perfected your form (seriously, nothing more annoying than the grunting guy who slams those weights down because he doesn’t know what he’s doing). And maybe you’re a bad skater, but at least you care enough to realize that both you and your dog could use a little pep in your exercise routine.
Your dreams are not enough by themselves, it’s true. But with practice, some enlightening failure, and perseverance, your dreams can become a reality.
And hey, your dog might even thank you.
About The Author:
The Naked Redhead writes under the assumption that “life is fun(nier) when you’re naked” and believes that life can be better when people are honest, find the funny in life, and come together to do the Right Thing. She enjoys knitting, food and indoor plumbing and resides in Columbus, Ohio.
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