Most of us are taught to shrink our goals and ideas, to make them conform to the greater society’s ideals. But, I have realized that, in order to create the lifestyle that I desire, I have to think outside of the norm, and beyond my old limiting beliefs.
When I was a small child, this came to me effortlessly. I spent hours daydreaming, and sometimes I would get lost in books for hours, imagining myself in other worlds living an entirely different life. I didn’t realize it then, but I was practicing visualization.
Both of my parents were very encouraging, and I don’t recall them ever limiting my dreams. My mother acquired books for me to read. Even though we didn’t have a lot of money, she would gather old books from the local library for me to build up my collection. I literally had hundreds of books in my home library. I would write in little notebooks, and picture myself as a world-class author.
My dad was also very encouraging. He would explain news stories to me while I read the comics, and we would watch political shows together on Sunday mornings. He would tell me that I was going to be a lawyer (which I eventually became), and he told both my sister and I that we would attend prestigious universities one day.
Things were far from perfect in my home growing up, but my parents built up my self esteem enough for me to continue to be a high achiever through my teenage years. But, then something changed. I became a teenage mom. For the first time, my life options seemed to be limited.
Thanks to my mother, I continued to on my academic journey and I went on to college. I had always wanted to attend an HBCU, but my dreams of going to Spelman were dashed. I didn’t even apply to my dream college because I thought that it was too far away, and it would be too difficult for me to attend with my son.
Thankfully, I had a very pleasant college experience. It was tough to go to work and school at the same time, though, and experiencing hard times brought me down. I no longer felt invincible. I worried about money. I worried about my son. I worried about student debt, career prospects, and pretty much everything.
The carefree young girl that I once was was gone.
Looking back at it now, I realize that I was internalizing negative messages about what I could achieve as a young mother. The negative messages from the media, bad experiences with perfect strangers, and from my own struggles slowly chipped away at the self esteem that I had developed as a child.
I started settling. I started taking jobs just to pay the bills. I started making bad financial decisions because I would, “never get ahead anyway,” and I felt like things were hopeless. Although I was making it, and I was even moving forward in my career and my education, I wasn’t really pursuing my biggest dreams.
I am so grateful to have finished my college education and my law degree. Based on what statistics say, I should have never made it out of high school. But, my dreams were even bigger than college degrees. As a child, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to create stories that people would be inspired by. I wanted to change lives with words.
Even as I type it now, it sounds like a dream too big to dream. I’ve been a writer for my whole life, but it’s been difficult to build up an audience and really share my message. I haven’t written a full length book yet, and I’m 32. I know that I can, but I have to give myself permission to dream again, and to turn my dreams and goals into action.
The lifestyle that I desire involves more than writing. I desire to be debt free, have time freedom, and to create. I want a lifestyle that is focused on helping others, taking care of my family, and taking better care of myself.
I started waking back up to my own dreams back in 2016. At that time, I owned a large home, I was feeling a bit stuck at my job, and I was stressed out about family issues. I started trying to figure out how to make a shift in my life. I knew that I had to take drastic action. So, I did.
I sold my home, and I became a minimalist. I stopped focusing on material things, and instead I focused on my family, my finances, and my goals. Each week, I did something to move towards my goals. I paid off a debt, I completed a freelance writing job, I attended parenting classes.
I eliminated a lot of distractions, and I things slowly started to improve. I realized that I had not only been neglecting pursing my goals, I had also been avoiding dealing with some of my problems. But, the only way to move closer to my dream lifestyle was to eliminate the things that were causing me worry and anxiety.
There were times when I second-guessed my big decisions. I had a beautiful home. I don’t really miss the four walls of the home, but I sometimes miss the idea of being a homeowner. I miss saying that I was a homeowner, and feeling like I had accomplished something.
But, I also remember the stress and anxiety of paying all of those bills, worrying about changes in the tax rates, riding out a hurricane and hoping my home did not flood, and spending long weekends doing yard work and cleaning up that big house.
My desire to have time freedom, to be able to travel one day, and to stop stressing out about a piece of property all outweigh any joy that I got out of being a homeowner. The thing is, I couldn’t focus on moving towards my future until I let go of certain things, including the house.
What’s holding you back from moving towards your ideal lifestyle? Are you willing to give up material possessions? Are you willing to delay vacations? Will you change jobs or cities? Will you stop spending your money on things that don’t contribute to your goals?
I have had to make major sacrifices over the last two years to get to where I am today. But, I’m in a better place financially, I’m working in a job I love, and my freelance writing business is growing. I’m getting super clear on what I want my life to look like in the future, and one day I will own a home again, and I’ll also have the time freedom to travel and come back to a peaceful home.
If you want to create you dream lifestyle, you need to get super clear on what you want, and even clearer about what you need to let go.