Write your own fairytale (or have a really grand adventure)

June 08 2012

Happily-ever-afters. Great escapes. Exotic adventures. Fairytales. You’ve read them, you’ve dreamed of them, you listen enviously as your friends tell them. “They can’t be real,” you skeptically reason.

STOP.

This isn’t stuff reserved for children’s tales. It isn’t luck. You can live one, too.

But it won’t happen magically. You’ll have to do some work. Here are some tips to help you on your way:

1. Get honest. 

Find a place with no distractions. Create time in your schedule to be there without needing to answer emails or rush off to meetings. If you must send yourself an invite, do it.

List things you’re really good at on a piece of paper (or a cocktail napkin). This list doesn’t necessarily need to be things you like or enjoy. You’re writing down your skills and key areas of competency — things you know you can rock out in your sleep.

Use another sheet of paper to list things that bring you joy. You don’t need to “be good” at these; you just need to love doing them. If you have a really, really, really shitty day, where do you turn to lift your spirits?

 2. Dream big. 

Don’t sell yourself short with this. Ask yourself: If you could do ANYTHING, ANYWHERE, what would it be?

Turn off that voice that laughs or says, “Impossible.”

Are you a professional writer living out of your Cape Cod beach home with a golden retriever and an adoring partner?

Have fun with this. And be specific.

 3. Start small. 

Rome wasn’t built in one day; yours won’t be either. Looking at the big picture can be overwhelming. Small, tiny steps will do just fine.

Maybe it starts with a stroll through your local bookstore to see which sections excite you. Maybe it’s taking a day off work to shadow someone at a local agency or maybe you visit a museum.

Before you begin to obsess about writing business plans, finding part-time work, or quitting your job, move in manageable bursts.

 4. You will get frustrated. 

Read that again.

It will happen. You will want to give up. You’ll be pissed at yourself for trying; the obstacles will become insurmountable. You won’t feel like you’re making any progress. IT IS OK. Accept this, acknowledge your frustration, and move on.

Sometimes, functioning is fine.

Take yourself to a movie that inspires you. Regain your strength. The important thing is not to lose momentum.

 5. Orient yourself. 

As long as you’re moving, you’re golden. It’s being stuck that will raise red flags (or white). For now, it doesn’t matter the direction. Just move.

6. You need someone. 

Have one person in your corner. There will be times you don’t believe in yourself. Know someone who does, someone who is OK with seeing you at your worst.

 7. Self care. 

Make a list of ten things that bring you comfort. They can be small — something like listening to music or lighting a candle — or big — booking a massage or buying a plane ticket. Commit to two each day.

Let me know how it goes.