How to Remain Focused on Your Dreams

Falling in love with a dream is like, well, falling in love with a person. The first few months, it’s all about rainbow and butterflies. You want to know everything there is to know about your dream, so you research, research, research. And then you want to make it to feel beautiful, so you create it a beautiful website, a logo, or even just a Pinterest-worthy office space. Been there done that.

Once all the romance becomes routine, shit starts feeling real. And it is at this point we begin to lose focus. Being in this distracted state of mind is heart-breaking and frustrating. I know. I’ve been there.

Walking the journey doesn’t have to be a struggle. There is a better way. Allow me to share with you how I manage to stay on track.

1.     Don’t Blame. Rearrange 

If you find yourself distracted from what you really want, start by looking within yourself and recognizing that the only person keeping you far from your heart’s desire is yourself. This is a tough concept to accept, but understanding it as truth will give you freedom.

I am completely guilty of falling into a habit of blaming others as the reason for why I haven’t accomplished my goals. When I was younger, I blamed it on my parents, and then my employers. Most recently it’s been a mix between my kids and my husband. Hey, we’re all a work in progress, right?

Every time you catch yourself blaming someone or something else on your shortcomings, ask yourself what do you have to rearrange either your mindset or your schedule.

And the truth is, rearranging usually involves making those tough decisions that we’ve been avoiding. For me, at times, it’s been moving out on my own, waking up early to work on my side hustle, leaving my kids at school longer, or paying money to hire people who can take tasks off my plate. The decisions feel uncomfortable at first, but ultimately they help you realize your own power.

2.     Commit to a Morning Ritual

It’s really easy to fall off track if we don’t remember the goal in the first place! If you go days without thinking of your goal, it will take you that much longer to get there. This is why a morning ritual that brings you back to center is so important. After you wake up, wash your face, brush your teeth — whatever it is you need to do to get out of bed —, head over to your sacred spot. Mine is a yoga mat I drop down in my office. Start by sitting in silence for three to five minutes. Once that time is up, bring to mind your big vision, your big dream. If visualizing feels too passive for you, write your big vision in your journal and read it over every morning. Or create a vision board with images that represent your goal. Find a routine that works for you. Just remember to make space for quiet time every morning, where you can bring to mind the work you want to do in the world.

Really, when you’re trying to regain focus what you’re doing reprogramming your brain to commit to a new habit. Working out that new habit every morning by bringing it to mind is how you build the mental muscles you need to stay on path.

3.     Don’t Indulge in the Doubt

A lack of focus usually comes from an abundance of doubt. When we doubt our dreams, we tend to look for distractions that will keep us far away from achieving our goals. Maybe you have a big business idea, but you find yourself going off on tangents and trying to work on several projects at the same time. Recognize that habit as doubt. You don’t want to fully commit to one thing because you fear it’s not right path, so you try several paths at the same time. And obviously, it just takes you longer to get to where you want to be. Don’t indulge in the doubt. Pick one path and have the faith that this is right path for you. See it through as much as it hurts. Tangents are distractions. Distractions are doubt. And doubt is just wasting our time. 

What if You Don't Know Where to Start?

Have you ever reach that stop in life where you look around and you think to yourself, “What am I doing with my life?” In my experience, that question comes with two different emotional charges. Some people ask that question and feel completely lost and overwhelmed. Others feel more annoyed and frustrated. The latter follow up with the statement, “I’m made for something greater.”

Neither perspective is bad. What matters is what we do after we meet that fork in the road. Of course, if we’re thinking these kind of thoughts, we’re generally looking for fulfillment or some sense of purpose. So naturally, we’re going to want to get off the road we’re on and find the other one that leads to a purposeful life.

Most people will tell you to find your passion. I know I’ve said that many times! That’s great advice, but how does one start to find passion? After all, if you knew your passion, you’d probably be doing that to feel fulfilled!

I recently heard Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of Eat, Pray, Love) speak on a podcast about finding your purpose or your calling. Her answer to finding your passion starts with following your curiosity.

Ahhh, that makes total sense, I thought? In fact, that’s exactly what I did when I was trying out different careers and different definitions of who I wanted to be. At first, I would look back at those experiences and see them as small failures. You know, things that didn’t work out. The same way many of us looking at being rejected when dating. They’re people and things we tried that just didn’t pan out as expected. But now I know, those experiences were perfectly orchestrated steps to get me to where I am today. 

The reason so many of us hit that fork and feel lost is because we’re afraid to take a wrong step. We see some steps, but we’re just not sure which is the right step.  We're too worried about how we'll look taking those steps or how we'll look when we quit that step.

When we’re in that place in our lives, what we’re doing is deciding wether or not we want to agree to explore. It’s that moment right before the leap of faith. By definition, exploration is all about investigating an area (of life) to learn what it’s all about. We don’t go into exploration with specific goals, or concrete knowledge of what we’re about to find. If that were the case, it wouldn’t be an exploration.

You, my friend, may be just about ready to explore. If you find yourself there, take it from me, no step is the wrong step. The only wrong you can do is not stepping. With enough self- awareness and acceptance of where you are in the moment, you will eventually find your path. And that’s when you can do all the goal setting your little heart desires.

But for now, allow yourself the space to be curious. Try things out. And if doesn’t feel right, stop and go to the next thing. Let your goal be to find purpose in your life. With that in mind, you will find your passion.. your mission in life. You just have to be curious enough to look and learn.

Are You Trying to Fit Into a Box?

trying to fit in

I spent most of my 20s trying to fit into a box. As I approached adulthood, I remember feeling as if society was handing me a questionnaire filled with a bunch of boxes, in which I was so supposed to fit. I knew I wanted to work in a creative field so I tried to fit in the film industry box, but it didn’t feel right. I then decided I wanted to help people, so I tried the non-profit world for size and that was just a disaster. I like people and trends, so I put myself into the public relations box, which obviously did not go well.

During my dating days, I did the same thing. I dated several guys who fit several stereotypes, and I desperately wanted to be their stereotypical match. That was awkward, as you could imagine.

Even after falling in love with writing, I found boxes in that world, too. I was constantly struggling to define my category of writing and my style. I moved around from topic to topic and realized I liked them all!

Eventually, I found the kind of writing I do today. I don’t want to put myself in a box, but let’s call it personal development writing. I knew I wanted to write for myself and not outside publications. This desire forced me into entrepreneurship. At first it felt exhilarating. You know, like when you’re about to go on a roller coaster: a little scary, but also really exciting.

The first few weeks of my newfound freedom were fun, until anxiety and worried kicked in. Questions like: What am I doing with my life? What do I really do for a living? Am I blogger? Am I a motivational speaker? I am even qualified to do this work? Who is going to hire? What path do I follow?

And before I knew it, I was looking for a box. Could you blame me? Inside those squares are structure, boundaries, and usually a clear reward system built in, if you just follow the instructions. I desperately wanted instructions.

Funny, right? The inefficient rules of those cookie-cutter careers are what frustrated me the most. Bosses annoy me. Mandatory office hours, too. And don’t even get me started on wasteful conference calls and weekly meetings.

But after spending so many years adhering to a set of instructions, even if it made us miserable, our default is to look for it when it’s missing. It’s what we know. It’s comfortable. It’s safe.

Our impulse is not a sign to go back into the box. Growth is uncomfortable. Following our road to greatness is hard. And building the muscles we need to have faith in ourselves takes time.

You feel tight in there, because you’re not meant to be in there. You’re an a-la-carte kinda gal. Meaning, you’re designed to pull from different careers, different lifestyles, and different behaviors to create your own life. That is your mission.

I have no roadmap for you, but I can offer you the gift of faith. When it comes to stepping outside of your tiny box, what you need is the unfaltering knowledge that this foggy road is the one you’re meant to be on right now. Once you have that, be prepared to work your ass off… and enjoy the happiness that follows, of course. 

What if Everyone is Doing What You Want to Do?

No matter where you turn, the Internet feels like a saturated place. Every piece of content you find seems like the same content you read last week, just this time wrapped in a different bow. And that’s because, well, that’s exactly what’s going on.

Magazine editors learn to have relationships and feelings towards words. One close friend of mine, who is a big-time editor, hates words like “unique,” “innovative,” or “original,” because they seem to pose the idea that this thing you’re talking about has never been done before, which is rarely true these days. Every idea is inspired by someone else’s idea. One of my favorite books on the topic is, “Steal like an Artist” by Austin Kleon.

We know this, but somehow when it comes to our own ideas we expect them to be the first of their kind. And when they are not, we’re disappointed, and we decide the idea is not worth following through with.

Take blogging for example. I speak about the topic often. I believe blogging is a great exercise in discovering your calling, and it’s an amazing way to get your message out there. I even teach a free course on it because I believe in the exercise so much.

As you can imagine, I get people asking me if the world really needs another blog or blogger, which of course makes me laugh, because I get it. And yes, I agree, there’s a lot of blogging going on out there, but I don’t think anyone should hit the breaks on their blogging dreams just because other people are doing it. On the contrary, I think that’s a reason to start blogging.

When we’re thinking of stepping out into the world with a personal and creative expression, shit gets scary really fast. And we’re going to look for any reason to convince ourselves that this new expression is not a good idea. Saturation of market, being one reason. But we have to know when fear and distraction are simply masking themselves as innocent caution. The truth is, we convince ourselves of these logical reasons on why we shouldn’t be following through on an idea simply because we’re scared. That’s it. And fear is never a good reason not to do something.

We need to start somewhere, and sometimes the activity we start with is something a lot of other people are doing, like blogging. You must trust that the entry will lead you down a path that is just for you. What you’re being asked to do is just start somewhere… anywhere.

Plus, if other people are doing what you want to do, it means there’s a need for what you want to provide. If you have competition, that means there’s a market, and that’s a good thing. Because sometimes we have a great idea for a need that doesn’t exist. Just watch an episode of “Shark Tank” and you’ll see what I mean.

You also have to remember when putting something out there, only the strong survive. Meaning, only the people with focus, purpose, and dedication will make something out of their desire. I remember when I was pregnant with my son, I attended a breastfeeding class. The instructor told us at the class that less than half of us were actually going to breastfeed. And she was right. Some of us were going to learn that it wasn’t for us, and that’s okay. Sometimes we think we want something, but when we get into it, we realize it's just not that important.

Lastly, you are a unique snowflake. Sorry to use the word, but it’s true. No one in the entire planet has had your exact same life. Not even your sibling. Your experiences and choices have shaped you into who you are, and when that is truly expressed, the expression can’t help but be one-of-a-kind. The problem is when we start looking at others to tell us how we should be and how we should create. When the truth is, the answer to our desire to be unique is completely written inside of each of us. Go find your instructions. 

What Happened to the Girl Who Used to Dream Really Big?

follow your dreams

After working a few internships in the t.v. and film industry, I decided I knew what I wanted to do for a living. I thought to myself, I would move from Miami to Los Angeles and work my way up to becoming the president of Paramount Pictures. Honestly, I had no idea what that job meant, but it sounded exciting and important, so I decided to make that my goal.

Pretty big dream for a little Cuban girl from Miami, right?

Once I made the decision in my head, I told everyone I knew. Of course, they thought I was crazy. But I continued trucking along, and I eventually I convinced my father to help me move to Los Angeles. He did. We did. And quickly after arriving, I found myself working as a receptionist in a law firm.

What happened to Paramount? Well, it turned out I was fearless in my dreams, but not-so-much in my actions.

My first week in L.A., I took a job as an assistant to an agent at CAA. That job scared the shit out of me. Seriously, I would come home crying every night. After two weeks of pure terror, I made another decision: I decided I wasn’t cut out for the industry.

How sad, right? We have these big dreams growing up, sometimes for years, and then these small, little experiences are enough to tell us we’re not good enough. Two weeks of a tough job was enough to convince me that a dream I had for a few years was not a good idea. Looking back, it really seems silly.

I left the assistant job and took a safe receptionist job and convinced myself (yet again) that instead of the film industry, I would apply to law school. That seemed safe.

But guess what? The itch to walk a bigger path wouldn’t leave me alone. A year later, I gave it another shot, and ultimately found myself working a temp job at Paramount. How’s that for manifesting?

Obviously, I’m not working my way up to being the president of Paramount (although, “Never say never,” right?), but I did get back on path. But I also spent a year in fear… in hiding. How many times do we do that? Fall off our path of greatness to hide behind some mediocre job, some “safe” relationship, or an overall not-on-purpose life?

It’s okay to fall off path. It’s going to happen. But when we’re there, looking for something to believe in, what we should believe in is that little girl with big dreams. She’s the fearless one. She’s the one that knows the truth. Even if her big plan doesn’t work out exactly the way she imagine, her path is the right path, and it will lead us to where we need to be.

It’s not that she disappeared. We just forgot her.

Every time we forget her, we make the choice to follow fear… to follow our doubts. And walking the path of fear is such a time sucker. One time, two times is okay, but when it becomes a habit — our default mode — is when we need to get down on our knees and pray for healing. This is the time when we pray to be brought back to the purest of thoughts, which, of course, leads us back to that little girl. She was right, after all.