Sometimes the things we want most in life are the ones that seem just beyond our reach.
Maybe you want to lose weight, but you’re a hundred pounds away from your goal.
Maybe you want to save your marriage, but you and your husband are hardly even speaking.
Or maybe you’re like me, and you want to quit a job you hate, but you know your family is depending on your income.
Well I have good news for you. No matter what your big, beautiful dream is – or how out of reach it seems, you CAN achieve it.
I know because I did just that after spending years thinking my dream to be a stay-at-home mom was completely impossible. In my mind, it was something other women could do, but not me.
To put it bluntly, as an attorney in a successful firm, I made too much money at my job to quit. My first year on the job I was earning $120,000. What person in their right mind would walk away from that to be a mom? How could I walk away, knowing how much it cost to pay our bills each month? And how much more we would need to actually take care of a baby?
Did I mention that I HATED my job? Not that it was a bad career or even a bad situation. It just wasn’t right for me, and I knew it within months of being hired.
I was desperate to leave, but I couldn’t see a way out. My future kids would be cared for by a nanny or daycare center, while I trudged off to work every day to help “provide” for them. It was a done deal.
Then something changed, and I started to think maybe I could find a way to live without all that money. Then other things changed, and I actually did find a way to leave my career.
And if I can do it, you can too.
I want to help you see is that some things may only seem unreachable from where you stand right now. You have so much more control than you think you do in your life.
**Side Note: While I want to encourage everyone to think big and pursue their hearts’ desires, I also want to be real with you. We all know that some things are truly out of our control. All the hard work in the world probably won’t cure a loved one from cancer, or heal a marriage that one person just doesn’t want to be in. Only God can do that, and I encourage you to take all your truly impossible dreams to Him first.**
But for those things we can control (even a little), here are 4 steps to get you from impossible to your new reality. These are the steps I used to make my own dream come true.
1. Do you really want this?
It might sound silly, but before you can begin reaching for your unattainable goals, you have to determine just how much you really want them. Because no matter what anyone says, it isn’t going to be easy to get what you want. I have lots of tips on this site about “Simple Tricks to do XYZ” or “Easy Ways to This and That.” But I’m telling you right now, this isn’t one of those posts.
So if this goal is just a passing fancy or something you kind of, sort of want to do, then feel free to stop reading right now. Really. My feelings won’t be hurt, and this post will always be here for you when you do have a dream that’s just too good, and too impossible to pass up.
This post is not about finding an easy fix to your big, huge, insurmountable problem. It’s about finding a way, some real, actionable way, to go after the dream you always thought was impossible. It’s about giving you hope to take another look at that beautiful, soul-satisfying desire you’d given up on.
But it’s going to take work. There’s no way around it. If your unreachable desire was something easy to grab, then you would have done it already, right? So you already know there will be setbacks on your journey, and sometimes you’ll be uncomfortable. You’ll have to push yourself to do things that are just plain hard.
And to do all that, you have to know, that you know, THAT YOU KNOW this is what you want.
Say it out loud to yourself. Write it down somewhere. Talk to your spouse or your best friend or your mom about it. Declare, even if it’s just to yourself, that you want this more than just about anything right now.
And keep that thought in mind through all the next steps. You are going to do this. Starting today.
2. Know Your Enemy
Okay. So now you know that this goal is something you desperately want. Something you’re willing to work hard for. And sacrifice for. And stay committed to.
But it still seems impossible. Where do you go from here?
Before you can move forward, you need to know what you’re up against.
So get out a piece of paper and start writing all the things that make your particular dream unattainable. There may be several obstacles in your way or just one or two big honkin’ mountains standing between you and the thing you want.
Don’t skip this step, even if you think you already know what your obstacle is. You need to know you enemy if you’re going to defeat him, so it’s crucial to really take some time to identify just what you’re facing. Writing it down forces you to order your thoughts and face them in black and white.
Plus, naming your fears automatically gives you power over them.
My list went something like this:
- I make too much money to quit my job – it would be stupid to walk away from such a large paycheck.
- We could never live comfortably on my husband’s salary alone – I paid the bills, so I knew how much we needed to get by.
- I spent too much time and money (my parents’ money actually) on my education to throw it all away.
- People will think I’m a quitter or, worse, a failure.
What about you? What are the obstacles keeping you from pursuing your dream?
3. Identify your Hamburgers
Wait what? I thought we were talking about enemies and obstacles. How did we get to fast food? Stick with me on this…it was a life-changing epiphany for me.
While I was miserable at my job, and wishing I could change my circumstances, I did a lot of research about achieving goals. I read books and articles. I listened to sermons and podcasts. I agonized over whether it was selfish or spoiled of me not to appreciate what I had. I was often inspired by what I read and heard, but nothing gave me the spark to actually make a change in my life.
Until one day, when I stumbled across a blog about a woman’s quest to lose weight. Weight loss wasn’t my goal at the time, but something she wrote brought a new level of clarity to all my pondering.
She talked about driving by a McDonald’s after a particularly challenging day. She was upset and having a moment of weakness. Craving something salty and comforting, she almost pulled in to the drive-thru to order a combo meal. But one thought stopped her.
She asked herself, “If I eat this burger and fries, will it get me closer to my ideal weight or farther away?”
It was a simple as that, but it did the trick. She passed by the McDonald’s and (at least in my mind) she went home to eat a salad and live a healthy, happy life.
She realized that a juicy burger and fries would satisfy her immediate need for comfort, but it would not bring her closer to her ultimate goal of getting the weight off.
To get past your obstacles, reframe your present desires in light of your more valuable long-term goals.
We all know this is true, but for some reason that woman’s personal story hit home with me (and stuck with me) more than anything else.
I realized that everything I did was a matter of choice. And if that was true, then at any given time, I could choose a different path. Suddenly, the doors of possibility flew open and I knew that my dreams were not so unreachable any more.
I just had to pass up the “burgers” in my life to get what I really wanted.
I wasn’t shackled to my job because of my bills. I was choosing to live a lifestyle that required a lot of money. Simple as that. And every time I was faced with a spending decision, I could ask myself if that purchase or little luxury was helping me achieve my goal of quitting.
I didn’t have to use my education in my professional field. I could choose to redirect my career, or heck, just be one super-smart mom.
I didn’t have to feel guilty about wanting a different path. I could choose to be thankful for my opportunities and glad that I could free up my position for somebody who really wanted it.
So what about you? What are the burgers in your life? Are you making choices that get you closer to your dream or farther away?
Are you starting to see how much power you have over your circumstances?
4. Start Chipping Away
So now you know what you want. You know you’re willing to work to get it. You know what’s standing in your way and how your choices can help you get past those obstacles.
The last step to reach your goal is to get to work. Make a plan and put it into action.
For me, that meant setting up my first real budget, paying off some stupid debts, and learning to live (happily) on less.
I read Dave Ramsey’s books (The Total Money Makeover was my favorite).
My husband and I has some serious talks about our lifestyle and spending habits.
Together, we chose to live well below our means in order to pay off our debt as quickly as possible.
We took control of our money and tackled that mountain that was keeping me from my dream.
And you know what? That big, impossible unreachable goal? I did it! One week before my first son was born, I quit my job, left my six-figure salary, and NEVER LOOKED BACK. You can read more about our journey to debt-free living here.
I can honestly say it was the best decision of my life. I LOVE being a stay-at-home-mom, and I’ve never regretted saying goodbye to my life as an attorney. I don’t miss the money, the prestige, the impressive career, or the luxury lifestyle.
Yes, our family has made a few sacrifices over the years, but nothing too extreme. We go on vacations, we buy new cars when we need them (in cash!), our kids have plenty of toys and clothes and food (oh the food three growing boys can eat!), and we just bought a beautiful new home. Sometimes I work part-time if there are little extras we really want, but I never feel like I “have” to work for our family to survive. Every day I wake up thankful to be living the life I always dreamed of.
And the thing is, I KNOW you can do it too! Maybe your dream seems even more impossible than mine did. But I promise, if you can follow these steps, you CAN make it happen. So what are you waiting for?
Figure out what’s stopping you from reaching your big, beautiful goal and make a plan to take down that mountain. Chip away at it one day at a time, and before you know it, your unattainable goal won’t just live in your imagination.
It will be your reality.
And you’ll be off thinking up other big, impossible, beautiful dreams.