So, I'm going to officially make this public:
I've just started the process of writing my next book. The working title is [Insert Your Dream Here], and it was inspired by my experience almost, but not quite, getting into Harvard.
While Harvard was never my ultimate dream, it was something I certainly thought would give me a huge boost towards moving closer to my dreams. And when it didn't work out, I questioned everything.
Sure, the logical part of my brain knew that it was an honor to make it to the top 50 and get an interview, and that I could probably get in if I tried again.
But the non-logical part of me, the part I'm going to call, "the meanie brain", said something like this:
"Isa you're an absolute idiot!!! What in the world ever made you think you could get into Harvard?! Do you know who you are and where you come from? What in the world are you thinking? You think 'dreams' actually come true?! Ha! What an idiot. You're delusional and if you think you're going to actually do anything you dream of doing in your life you're just stupid. Give up all these silly dreams now and just grow up, okay? Life is not about dreams and it's not exciting and you just need to suck it up and give it up."
The logical part of me as well as the dreamer part pushed back against this meanie and led me to read The Alchemist again. It's an allegory about achieving your dreams, and I love it.
However, after reading it, I still found myself wanting to learn more about how all this played out in real life. I wondered:
Are there people out there who've achieved a dream?
How did they overcome their meanie brain?
How did they feel when a failure struck and how did they move forward?
How did they know when they just needed to keep being persistent or when it was time to pivot in some way?
What advice would they give to others who desperately want to achieve a dream, especially in moments when they feel like everything is telling them to give up?
Does the 10,000 hours/10 years theory apply to dreams?
Can you really achieve something with disciplined focus and work alone?
And the idea for my next book was born.
Over the next few months I'm going to be interviewing 100 people who've reached a big dream that they had.
I've already conducted quite a few interviews with some pretty incredible people, and their insight and advice has already been profound.
I don't want to give it all away yet, but I do want to leave you with this big insight that is already coming through:
The biggest obstacle to achieving your dreams is you.
So far everyone I've talked to has, without my asking about this issue directly, expressed how difficult it was to overcome their own self-doubt, but how crucial it is to actually getting somewhere you want to go.
I wanted to share this with you now so that, even before my next book comes out (it will probably be a while), you'll know that when you hear that meanie part of your brain you can:
1. Know that you're not alone.
2. Know that its a complete liar.
3. Push past it and keep going.
That is something all the dreamers I've interviewed so far had in common. They all failed. They all doubted. They all struggled. They all had moments where the "I think I can" idea waned and they thought "what if I can't?" The difference seems to be that they kept going anyway.
That's the big question. Because their dream was that that important to them. As one interviewee said, there's nothing else he'd rather be trying to do.
So let me ask you this:
Why are you in college?
Take some time today to journal an answer that question. Or if you're not in college, journal about what your dream is and why it's important to you.
Then keep it somewhere safe and go back and read it anytime that meanie brain starts to bug you.
And dream on.
Help me with my next book?
Can you or anyone you know answer "yes" to the following questions? If so, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org as I'd love to possibly interview you (or that person) for this book!
1. Have you accomplished a 'big' dream in your life?*
2. Can you define when you first had that dream and describe a moment when you felt that dream had come true?
3. Are you willing to share your experiences with success and failure in the pursuit of your dream with others in a book so that they can be inspired by your story?
*note: the dream can be as general as being successful (though I would want you to describe/specify exactly what that means to you) or as specific as dreaming of getting a certain job or degree. They key is that you can define one particular dream you had, when you first had it, and then what you did to turn it from a dream to a reality.