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Your Dreams Are Not Enough – Guest Post by My Favorite Redhead

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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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hulbert March 6, 2010, 12:27 am

    Haha, nice post um… Naked Redhead. I really enjoyed reading it. I agree that we can’t just “dream” as that’s what a lot of people do instead of taking action and practicing. I think failure does hurt; and the physical or emotional pain from it can stop us from going on. But like you say, we should embrace our failures, learn from them, and persevere. Great article, and I hope you’re doing okay from your skating accident.

    • The Naked Redhead March 6, 2010, 8:21 am

      Thanks Hulbert. I’m doing just fine, but my dog is still in therapy. Doc says that after a few more intense journaling experiences, he should be okay.

  • Girlwithnoname (Jackie) March 6, 2010, 1:19 am

    Nice post. I think I’m adding you to my RSS reader now. thanks Josh for introducing us!!
    xo
    J

    • The Naked Redhead March 6, 2010, 8:22 am

      Awesome! And yes, probably a good idea to add me to your reader. For some reason, if you try to look at my site at work, you get blocked. Something about it being “adult content” (it’s not! I swear!). 🙂

    • Josh Hanagarne March 6, 2010, 9:26 am

      Jackie, I thought you two would get along:)

  • Hillary March 6, 2010, 8:15 am

    I really appreciate this. Makes perfect sense and sort of brings solid reality to the whole “dreaming” idea. I like it.

    Thanks for the intro.

    • The Naked Redhead March 6, 2010, 8:27 am

      Thanks, Hillary. You know, it all kind of hit me when I was 27…I suddenly realized that all of the things I truly wanted would never just happen. It seems like that idea would just be common sense, but the more I go through life, the more I meet people that want to win a Tony, but have never taken a dance class, or people who want to be writers but don’t write every day (and yes, you must write. every. day.). I don’t think it’s wrong to dream BIG (we cannot all rule the universe, right?), but those first few steps to getting what we truly desire require some serious effort.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Hillary March 6, 2010, 8:30 am

        Do you mind if I ask how old you are now or is that off limits 😉

        • The Naked Redhead March 6, 2010, 8:35 am

          The big Three-Oh. “Ancient”, in other words. 🙂

          And with a moniker like “The Naked Redhead”, you’ll find that there’s not too much that’s off limits.

          • Hillary March 6, 2010, 8:42 am

            I like your style.

  • Joy Tanksley March 6, 2010, 12:09 pm

    Hey there! Love your post. I’m a big beleiver in redefining failure. I like the analogy of a kid learning to tie her shoes. After ten missed attempts, we don’t shout, “What a loser! That kid is a total failure!” Instead, we recognize that she will learn by doing and that it may take hundreds of attempts. I love this quote by Martha Beck: “I’ve noticed that the biggest difference between wildly successful people and total failures is that the successful people fail more.”

    PS – I’m heading over to check out your blog. Sometimes I’m a naked redhead.. I have a great wig. 🙂

  • The Naked Redhead March 6, 2010, 2:18 pm

    Yes! Failure can be earth-shatteringly painful, but it can also be a very kind teacher, especially when we pay attention to the “little fails” along the way.

    I hope you enjoy my place, but you must only read it if you’re currently posing as a naked redhead. It’s just the rules…I make all my readers do it. Yes, it gets awkward if you’re at work, but believe me, it’s worth it. 🙂

    Thanks for commenting!

  • Bamboo Forest - PunIntended March 6, 2010, 3:56 pm

    Anyone who says they want to become a professional athlete, that that’s their ultimate dream–practices as much as they can mentally, spiritually and physically.

    Practice really is the way.

    • The Naked Redhead March 7, 2010, 8:50 am

      Actually, since you mention athletes, I really had the Olympics on my mind when I wrote this piece. I thought of all the stories they told of Olympic athletes who practiced, experienced failure (hello, broken bones and personal loss), but kept going anyway. Truly inspiring.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 7, 2010, 5:00 pm

      Quality practice.

  • Mick Morris March 7, 2010, 12:31 am

    Those are three of the most concise and spot on pieces of advice anyone could possible recieve….advice that EVERYONE should adhere to.

    • The Naked Redhead March 7, 2010, 8:50 am

      Thanks, Mick. I’m glad you said “EVERYONE”. It validates that my dream of world domination is working! 🙂

    • Josh Hanagarne March 7, 2010, 5:00 pm

      I agree, and concise is often overlooked when people start giving advice:)

  • Kimberly March 7, 2010, 5:50 pm

    I love this — especially the part about perservering, and appreciating the small successes. I try to think on all the small successes related to my blog, and my other business endeavors, every single day, and it keeps me pumped. Getting a nice note from a restaurant chef I wrote about, or a thank you for a wine suggestion I made, or similar. And I’m convinced the feel-good vibe from these little things attracts the other, and sometimes much bigger, stuff. In any case, action is for sure an enormous part of the mix, and together with your dreams, can make magic happen!

    • The Naked Redhead March 7, 2010, 7:46 pm

      Ah yes, the feel-good vibe of the small success. And don’t they seem to come along right when you need it most? I never poo-poo the small success any more…they are sometimes the only things that keep me going!

  • Daisy March 7, 2010, 6:35 pm

    Action was my goal word last year. I dream a lot, plan a lot, and that goal reminded me to push my dreams a little farther.
    I didn’t push them on inline skates, though. That’s a bit beyond me. Glad you survived! Please wear a helmet.

  • I read the both the Naked Redhead and World Strongest Liberian all the time, imagine my delight to see them intersecting…

    Thanks for sharing these great reminders… you have a flare for style. I love tone of your writing.

  • Mark March 9, 2010, 8:15 am

    Thanks for sharing this important lesson. It is good to dream, we also must prepare for our dreams and to understand that falling is simply part of the process.

    • The Naked Redhead March 9, 2010, 11:40 am

      I’ve been thinking that I also need to add a section on the difference between “dreams” and “opportunities”…a somewhat subtle difference, I know, but I think when we learn to differentiate the two, it helps us when we fail. For example, I had applied to Live off Groupon for a year, and when I heard the news I hadn’t been accepted, I was fine. I knew that Groupon was the opportunity, but it wasn’t necessarily my dream. Hmm…more thinking to do!

      Thanks for commenting!