How to Stay Focused on Your Out-of-the-Norm Goals

Quite often, the price of not staying in the lane of ‘normal’ comes at the cost of friends, pride and motivation. Being the one who doesn’t have a regular income, benefits and a 401k can leave you feeling inadequate and questioning your goals and life choices. Building a new career is difficult and generally not initially rewarding financially or otherwise, but the eventual payoff is worth more than slaving away at a soul-sucking corporate job even if it means toiling as a bartender for a few years longer than you expected.The key is to stay focused on your dreams.

Photo by Sedric Acevedo

Don’t compare yourself to others.
This should be obvious, but very often seeing your peers driving around in cars, with their own apartments and regular visits to restaurants can be highly demotivating when you are making minimum wage while staying up extra hours to create your dreams. Remember that they have slotted themselves into an existing framework, while you are still creating yours. Someone always has to be at the helm of newness, and you have decided to be that person. The workload is infinitely higher but the reward when it comes to fruition all be tantamount to that effort.

Failure is a step forward.
Something my father has always told me – failure is not the end of the world. It doesn’t mean you are bad at something, it just means that you tried. Yoda is not always right! The way I see failure is that each one is a photograph to decorate your future mind palace. You will always learn something from a failure – even if it’s just what not to do. You haven’t found the right way to do it, but you will find every wrong way and knowledge is power. While you rack up experience, others may be racking up savings but which has more value in the long term?

You don’t need to restrict yourself.
Just because you don’t have a massive savings account, does not mean you need to limit your experiences. Give your brain and soul a break by taking a short vacation if you need it. Sometimes a new environment will leave you feeling more inspired and that is more valuable to your dreams than the days spent mentally drained and forcing yourself to focus. Treating yourself to something as small as an expensive dinner or even a coffee you wouldn’t normally have can be the right treat you need to boost your performance and motivate you.

Don’t define yourself by temporary positions.
Yes, you may be a retail worker or a receptionist part-time to make ends meet while you create your dream. This does not define you. Far too often, especially in North America, we are taught that our job is a reflection of our status and that our dreams have no value until they are realized. This is not true. We are our full potential, nothing more and nothing less. Just because we are currently not showing it, does not cheapen it’s value or our own. Time is the only thing that will reveal it, not social status.

Talk about your goals.
While creating accountability, this will also draw people toward you who can and want to help you. Mentioning your aspirations to a friend over coffee can lead to a connection you didn’t have before. Remember that people are psychologically programmed to help society and each other. This may not seem clear in this day and age, but motivations tend to align with how an individual desires their environment to be structured. Find your tribe of like-minded individuals and feed into and out of the energy you can provide each other.

Create visual reminders.
Things like mood boards and dream boards may seem cheesy, but having a visual reminder of why and what you want to create this life is a great way to stay on track. Even if it’s just a picture of a role model, the people you want to serve or the house you want to have, remind yourself why you want to do it, and then do it. Everyone has a different motivation, it doesn’t matter what it is, a long as it helps you achieve your dreams.

Most importantly, stay healthy.
It is a tired trope to glorify caffeine dependency and lack of sleep as something concurrent with working hard toward dreams. This is not true. You are more productive when you take care of yourself inside and out. Losing an hour to do a workout, make a proper meal or get enough sleep is far more beneficial in the long run than the half-hearted, desperate work you do on four cans of an energy drink and no sleep. You cannot take care of dreams if you do not take care of the dreamer. Don’t overwork yourself to an early grave. While these systems may work for studying for exams or meeting one or two deadlines over an extended period of time, they should not be encouraged as habits.

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