“Fight for your dreams and your dreams will fight for you.” -Daniel Bryan
Do you have a dream?
We all have a dream. For some, the dream is bigger than others; perhaps you want to be a writer, professional athlete, artist, or CEO. Maybe you desire a promotion at work, to make a few more dollars to provide for your family. For me, that dream is to become a fantasy novelist and author. I would love to create a fantasy world that people enjoy, and I’d love to see fan creations such as art and fan fiction for the people and locations I’ve written. Whatever your dream, in our modern age, it is simultaneously both easier and harder than it has ever been to achieve. On the one hand, it is far easier. We have access to social media and a nearly endless array of expertise and opportunity to network with masters in their field. The vast arsenal of knowledge at our fingertips is unprecedented in all of human history.
The range of tools available is nearly limitless, and yet, many still struggle to realize their fantasies.
We also live in an age of distraction and competition. Never before has it been so hard to maintain focus. Between our smartphones buzzing us with alerts every two seconds, coupled with the addictive nature of video games, books, movies, and television, many people struggle to stay on the path necessary to achieve their goals in life. The world has become exceedingly efficient at dominating our time and headspace. Technology companies and entertainment entities have refined triggering dopamine hits in our brain to such a precise level that millions have become addicted to consuming, rather than taking the necessary steps to build the life of their dreams.
For nearly twenty years, I fell into the cycle of consumption, rather than execution.
Every waking moment not spent in a 9 to 5 job was spent in front of the television, either gaming or watching films and TV shows. My DVR was packed full of endless content, just ready for me to plop down in my chair to watch. My library of video games had become mountains, some that I’d never even played, resolving one day to plow through the backlog. My life had become a revolving door of consumption, as I slogged through the daily grind at work, only to make it home and pump my brain full of content generated by someone else. Even while writing my first book, I still spent more time than I care to admit consuming other content. Then, one day as I sat watching a football game, I came to a staggering realization:
I was spending an inordinate amount of time watching other people live their dreams, instead of trying hard enough to live mine.
Every movie you have ever watched contains people whose dream it was to be an actor or screenwriter. Every sporting event has people who were once children, dreaming of participating at the same level as their heroes. Perhaps they grew up with a poster of Micheal Jordan, or Joe Montana, or someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger hanging up on their wall. For me, I was a disciple of Arnold. I practically worshipped him growing up, and loved virtually all of his movies. As I got older and took up bodybuilding, I studied everything he had to offer, ritualistically studying Pumping Iron and the rest of his life. Unfortunately, back then I only studied his actual lifting technique, leaving behind the most critical part of what he was doing: his mindset. Arnold wasn’t just lifting weights; he was networking and building himself, trying to get movie roles and magazine covers and media exposure. His focus was singularly on one thing: living his dream. Regardless of one’s opinion of the man, it is indisputable that he has lived a life of extraordinary achievement, with a pantheon of accomplishments nearly unrivaled in our society.
This is going to sound heretical, especially coming from a writer, but even reading can become a bottomless pit of consumption, albeit one that is far more valuable than visual media. Obviously, to be a great writer, one must learn from and read those who have already executed at the highest level. Reading is a critical operation to learn technique, plotting, and experiencing a great story. However, that author you are reading at one point had a dream to make a living from writing. The book in your hand is proof that on some level they made their dream reality. Many aspiring writers fall into the trap of too much reading, telling themselves they are advancing their skill and knowledge, which is true but only to a point. At some juncture, you have to actually execute to advance your dreams. Do not spend your life watching others achieve their dreams, use them as motivation to work even harder to produce and execute to further yours.
How then do we strike the correct balance? One simple rule:
Produce and execute, before you consume.
Consumption can actually be valuable. I’m not here to hate on video games or movies, I’ve even done reviews on them pretty regularly. We sometimes need to get a spark from another creator’s content. What I have done, that seems to work pretty well so far, is no consumption without creation first. That means that I have to write a blog, edit a chapter, or network on social media before I do any gaming or TV watching. Then, in the event I watch one show, I have to write another 500 words or so before I watch another. Keep yourself always working to advance yourself forward, rather than staying stagnant. In my first book, I wrote about the concept of Future You, and taking actions in the present that will influence how Future You develops into the person of your dreams. Visualizing the impact of steps you take in the present can be a powerful tool for advancement. Ask yourself: Is the action I am taking right now advancing myself to the person I want Future Me to be?
I wish you the best, and I hope you make all of your fantasies come to life. If you have any questions, let me know, and I will be happy to help!
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Steve's blog where he talks about anything and everything: writing, fitness, mindset, movies, TV, and his favorite stuff.