Byron Van Pelt and I met at a Tony Robbins seminar where we happened to be sitting next to each other. He is a life coach, energetic, and an amazing guy to talk to! I was so impressed with him that I had him write a guest post and this is one of my favorite articles on inspiration I have ever read.
It has made me a better person and I’m grateful to be able to share this post.
ENJOY and APPLY!
Zack’s latest post “You Don’t Have to Do Anything” inspired me to write about going after our dreams.
Most people tend to ask me how I ended up becoming a life coach – and what it took for me to “live my dream” full time.
So I wanted to address that here. And more importantly, I wanted to empower you with some ideas on truly creating life on your terms.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to pursue your goals until they become your reality, this is for you.
These are my three simple rules for chasing your dreams.
Rule 1: Get Specific or Forget About it
For the LONGEST time I just wanted to quit my job.
It wasn’t because I had to wakeup at six in the morning every day.
It wasn’t because I had to sell car warranties over the phone on a “one call close.”
And it wasn’t because the commute was a pain in the neck.
I wanted to quit my job because my dreams were bigger than that position.
(I have zero ill will toward that company by the way – I worked with some truly awesome people).
I knew I wanted to make more money, to help more people, to use my talents to give value on a larger scale. But I hadn’t FULLY contemplated the exact future I wanted to create.
I later realized directing all of my thoughts to “leaving the job” was the very thing keeping me there.
Think about it like this:
Imagine boarding a 747 in New York traveling to Los Angeles. Picture yourself sitting in first class close enough to overhear the pilots before taking off.
Before they close the cabin doors, you hear the captain say, “Here’s my strategy for getting us to Los Angeles: I’m just going to try to get as far away from New York City as I can. I figure the more I get away from New York, the closer we’ll get to LA. Hopefully everything else just works out.”
How confident would you be in getting to your destination?
The reason I wasn’t able to make traction toward my dreams was because I lacked specificity.
Just like how you can’t expect to get from New York to Los Angeles by simply “getting out of the city” you can’t expect to achieve your dreams by “getting out” of your current situation.
How often have you heard someone say:
“I just want to get out of debt.”
“I just need to get out of this relationship.”
Or “I just need to get out of this job.”
The mistake many people make (myself included) is that we try to fly to our dreams by moving away from our current situation.
And this means we’ll NEVER get to chase down the dream because we don’t even know what we want.
So the key is to get extremely clear, laser-focused, and specific when it comes to nailing down what we want. Anything less than absolute precision won’t generate the actions necessary to move us toward our desired future.
Here’s a quick exercise. Take out pen and paper for this one.
Start by asking, “What do I want? Where do I want to be in one year? Three years? Ten years?”
Once you’re done, you’re already more likely to achieve your dreams than 97% of America (According to Brian Tracy, only 3% of Americans have written goals). But it’s only a start.
Now we need to crank up the clarity and specificity. Because knowing that we’re just flying to Los Angeles isn’t good enough. We have to know the exact location of the airport and the runway we’ll be landing on too.
So back to the pen and paper. Answer these questions:
“What specifically do I want?”
“When specifically do I want it?”
“Who specifically is involved with this dream?”
“Where specifically does my dream take place?”
“Why specifically do I want it?”
“How specifically am I going to obtain it?”
The reason why these questions are so powerful is because “to specify” literally means to “decide definitely.”
As Goethe famously said,
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.”
Clarity is real power.
Having a detailed vision for the future you want to create is akin to having Google maps for the mind. You might make a few wrong turns, you may be off course for a bit, but your guidance system keeps you on track.
And with a focused guidance system, you EXPECT to get there. This expectation fuels your desire to keep moving forward.
I started making real, tangible progress toward my dreams once I created a detailed picture of what I wanted. And I began adding more details to it over time so that this picture grew from a 2D image into a fully fleshed out 3D reality.
And I would spend at least twenty to thirty minutes a day in this reality. I could SEE the view from my backyard looking out over the water. I could FEEL the warmth from the cup in my hands and TASTE the coffee in my mouth.
Once I knew exactly where I wanted to go and what that reality was going to be like, I began taking radically different actions.
These specific actions are what allowed me to gain enough momentum to eventually quit my job and live my dreams full time.
I did this by methodically building up my life and business coaching client base until I was able to fully replace my income.
You can (and will) do the exact same thing with your dreams if you get so clear as to what you want that you can taste, touch, hear, see, and smell it.
Rule 2: Speed of Implementation
Let me ask you a quick question just for fun:
What was the last self-help/personal growth book you read?
Now answer this:
What was your biggest takeaway or key insight? What was the single most important idea you got from reading it?
A little more difficult – I’ll give you a second.
Now answer this:
How did you IMPLEMENT this insight into your life? How did you take that idea and use it to CHANGE what you do on a daily basis?
If you have an answer, you get the gold star. And if you don’t, no worries!
What you’re about to learn is essentially the single most important rule to get you closer to your dreams than just about anything else could.
If you’re like me, then you probably read lots of inspirational blogs, listen to empowering podcasts, read enriching books, and spend a good chunk of your free time “learning” new things.
I did this constantly (and still do). But I would rarely implement much of anything.
I would finish a great book and think, ‘Hmm. Great book. That was so helpful!’ And I would reflect on it for a while. But then I was onto the next book.
I would never DO anything differently in my life.
As I started to become more aware of this, I would go back and read these books again. And then I would start to SLOWLY make changes.
Yet my life wasn’t looking very different.
What was going on? I KNEW all of this incredible information. I had read so many dang books! And yet I wasn’t growing.
Because LEARNING =/= NEW KNOWLEDGE.
Learning is NOT gathering new ideas and storing them in the mind.
Learning is NOT memorizing new concepts.
Learning is NOT studying new information.
I realized until I actually shifted what I was DOING in my day to day life, I hadn’t actually learned anything.
Once I made this discovery, I went about the process of “learning” in an entirely different way. Instead of simply taking notes, I started asking, “How can this new idea translate to an action step? When can I install this in my life?”
And I started LEARNING a whole lot more because I was DOING a whole lot more.
To take it up a notch, I then began asking myself, “How can I take this new insight and install it into my life as a HABIT?”
And that’s when my reality started changing dramatically.
My friends would ask me “What was your key takeaway from that book you just read?”
And I would answer, “On Monday morning I’m making twenty phone calls before lunch.”
They would invariably give me a confused glance and say something like, “OK great. But what did you learn from the book?”
I would smile and say, “Before reading that book, I wasn’t in the habit of making twenty calls before lunch. Now that I’m aware of it, I’m going to do it.”
As one of my personal heroes, Eben Pagan, boils it down: “LEARNING is CHANGING your BEHAVIOR.”
LEARNING = CHANGING BEHAVIOR.
So if you want to really make tangible progress toward your dream, implement new ideas into your life.
If you want to REALLY REALLY REALLY make progress toward your dream, implement new ideas into your life IMMEDIATELY.
SPEED matters because the longer we wait to create a change in behavior, the less likely we are to do it.
One of the biggest obstacles I see stopping my clients from getting what they want is “Death by Planning.”
They mistakenly believe they have to research everything there is to know about a particular area before taking action toward it.
They say things like, “That way I’ll know what I’m doing.”
But they don’t end up taking enough action and their momentum dies very quickly.
I get it – I used to be the same way. I was hesitant to start anything until I at least had some kind of game plan. That totally makes sense.
But I suggest going about this in the completely OPPOSITE way.
Instead of creating a plan to KNOW what you’re DOING, start DOING NOW so you can start KNOWING FASTER.
In other words, start doing more so you can learn more. Learn BY executing instead of learning and THEN executing.
What you’ll notice is that you gather a ton of direct experiences from quickly implementing these new ideas. And these experiences are MASSIVELY valuable in helping you CHANGE and GROW.
As a result, you will outpace anyone just like you going for the same dream. While they’re still planning and “gathering research” you’ll be out there truly learning.
Who do you think chases down the dream first?
Rule 3: Accept Feedback and Adjust
The final rule of chasing your dreams requires flexibility.
We started by getting laser-focused on what we specifically wanted. Then we began taking action by implementing new ideas into our lives quickly.
Now we need to receive feedback and make adjustments.
I call this step in the process “Learning Squared.”
So learning = changing your behavior, right? In rule two, we’re taking new actions toward our dreams. When we get a great idea, we quickly go out and try it.
After this happens, we’re going to start getting feedback and we need to learn all over again.
Let’s pretend our dream is to write a book.
When we finish the first draft, we might send it out to a few people in our target demographic to get their thoughts on it.
They might like certain parts of it. They might strongly dislike certain parts of it.
Gathering feedback in this step means truly hearing where the world is coming from. Instead of saying, “Well they just didn’t understand my vision!” we embrace the criticism.
“Learning Squared” means we then adjust our behavior again to create something more in alignment with what the feedback we’re getting.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting a business is dedicating themselves to creating a product they don’t even know if people will appreciate.
Their passion blinds them to understanding the market. Then, when no one buys from them, they get discouraged and quit.
See, there’s a bit of a paradox when it comes to chasing our dreams:
On one hand we need to be extremely specific about what we want to accomplish. So much so that we definitely commit ourselves to ONE clear intention.
Yet we also have to have enough flexibility to adjust our vision based on what we’re experiencing.
We have to be BOTH single-mindedly focused AND openly flexible.
How do we do this? Think of it like ballroom dancing.
Before the dance begins, you’re going to take the lead. You need to know exactly where you’re going and the initial steps you’ll be taking.
Then as you begin dancing, you’ll lead your partner with confidence. You may try new moves and routines to make the dance engaging.
But as the dance continues, you’ll need to adjust to your partner. Your partner may want to take the lead. They might not feel like one of your moves is working for them. Or they might want to try something different with you.
Adjusting to feedback means shifting out of “this needs to happen exactly like this” mode and into “I wonder what would happen if we tried this instead…” mode.
In doing this, you’ll experience an awesome harmony between you and your dreams.
You’re clear and steadfast enough to know exactly what you want and yet you’re open enough to create what the world wants too.
You will discover that to truly chase down your dream means to find the sweet spot between your wildest passions and what the world is asking of you.
I was always super passionate about confidence and building strength from the inside out. But it wasn’t until I started really LISTENING to what my clients wanted that I began to really make much of an impact.
They began telling me they wanted to learn how to communicate with charisma. They wanted to learn how to master the art of conversation. They yearned for creating deeper connections with those around them.
If I would have blindly followed my passion in simply teaching confidence, I wouldn’t have been able to serve these people.
So I completely shifted my focus for these clients away from confidence and into teaching charisma and social skills. This made a world of difference.
What I discovered was that our initial dreams rarely end up exactly as we first see them. Either we need to adjust them or we need to adjust who we are to capture them.
Feedback is truly the greatest teacher. And just because things don’t work out the way we expect them to work out doesn’t mean we QUIT on the dream.
We just need to make shifts and go about the whole “learning by doing” process again. Over time, we get closer and closer to the dream until it becomes an unavoidable reality.
So now that you know my three simple rules for chasing your dreams, I have to ask you:
- What do you want?
- What is one thing you just learned you can implement TODAY?
- How are you going to adjust to feedback?
Go chase down your dream. You are more powerful than you will ever know.
If you are like me and want some more Byron…check out his stuff here: