If we’re going to take first (and subsequent) steps to making our God-given dreams a reality (and you can read the start of this series here), we need to be willing to Invest Time, which is the letter “I” in our “ATTA GIRL” acrostic.
This is probably the biggest stumbling block for me in fulfilling my dreams—I’d rather play! In some of my online writers groups, they will ask people for the best piece of advice they ever got. Many successful writers swear that advice was “BIC.” BIC stands for Butt in Chair. Put in the time to write.
Malcolm Gladwell says it takes an investment of 10,000 hours to develop mastery in anything. We develop our skills only as we put in the time that is necessary. And what’s necessary is often way more than we want to invest.
It’s tough to set aside time to learn or practice or make contacts, but if you don’t, your dream will never become reality. We will have to make some difficult choices.
Our lives are so full already, it’s unlikely that we will be able to add dream-fulfilling activities without ridding our lives of some nonessentials. What can go? What activities can you live without (or at least, with reduced portions of) so you can pursue your dream? Are there things you’re doing because it is someone else’s dream and they guilted you into it?
One of the most important lessons I’m learning is every time I say yes to something, I’m saying no to something else. It’s true in every area of our lives, from the mundane to the miraculous. When you said yes to wearing the outfit you have on today, you said no to everything else in your closet. When you say yes to spending Tuesday mornings escorting refugees to their appointments, you say no to everything else available to do on a Tuesday morning.
How will you choose wisely? How will I? Would I make better dream-fulfilling choices if before I invest time in playing one more game of Mah Jongg I take an inventory of all the things I’m saying no to in that time slot? How I spend my minutes is how I spend my days. And how I spend my days is how I spend my life. If I want to accomplish something, I’m going to have to figure out what peripheral things I’m going to say no to, so I can invest the time to make my dream happen.
That’s an important lesson for your kids to learn as well. Ask: “If you’re going to do this activity, what will you have to stop doing?” We’re running our families ragged trying to do it all. Stop! Learn to recognize limitations for yourself and your family so your children will do so in their future as well.
Look for small blocks of time you can devote to dream pursuits—maybe your lunch hour at work, or the baby’s nap time, or maybe you can get up a half an hour earlier in the morning or forgo TV one night a week. Schedule it in, so nothing else takes its place. One popular motivational writer (wish I remembered who) had us make a chart of 100 hours broken down into 15-minute segments and challenged us to grab those 15-minute blocks all summer to spend pursuing our dreams. The goal was to reach 100 hours before fall arrived. Use whatever method works for you.
Unfortunately for people like me, we move on the path toward our dreams in direct proportion to the time we invest in it. As the Nike ad said, “Just Do It.”
Dreams cost us. Are you willing to make the investment?