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Is Life Getting In The Way Of Your Dreams?

by Reija Sillanpaa 27 days ago in goals

Maybe It Is Time For A Reshuffle

Is Life Getting In The Way Of Your Dreams?
Photo by Илья Мельниченко on Unsplash

Many of us have a dream we want to fulfil. Whether it is writing a book, training as a yoga teacher, or starting your own business.

But so often life has a way of getting in the way.

Take me as an example. I have always dreamt of being a full-time writer, but always had the dream on a back burner. For many years I allowed life to throw things on my path that stopped me from going for my dream.

Life Throws Me A Catalyst For Change

Then, in March 2019, life threw the biggest curve ball at me. But instead of becoming the biggest obstacle, it became the catalyst to rejig my life and priorities and make space for my dream.

I thought of a joke I once heard about a man who prayed to God for a lottery win.

He prayed, "Please God let me win the lottery.”

And then he waited. And waited and waited.

When nothing happened, he prayed again. "Please God, let me win this time."

But once again nothing happened, so after waiting for a while he asked God for a third time.

"Please God, let me win. Please."

This time God answered.

"If you want to win, you got to meet me halfway and buy a lottery ticket."

I thought I was a bit like the man in the joke. I kept dreaming about being a writer. I don’t know what I expected to happen without me actually putting in the hard craft. Maybe I was hoping for the Holy Spirit to descend and do my writing for me.

Unlikely. I was the one who had to do it.

I Had To Readjust My Work-Life Balance

I’m a primary school teacher and for years worked nearly 60-hour weeks. I’d get to school at seven in the morning and leave at 6:30 when the caretaker kicked me out so he could lock up.

Often I’d spend hours over the weekends catching up with marking or planning for the forthcoming week. I had no time or energy left for writing.

When I was diagnosed with womb cancer, I had several months off work. It gave me the time to reflect and realise I couldn’t go back to full-time teaching. Not if I wanted to make it as a writer.

The solution for me was to work part-time in order to create more time for writing and a better work-life balance.

I Had To Let Go My Attachment To Money

Before the cancer, I had never considered working part-time because I was too attached to the money I earned and the lifestyle it gave me.

But towards the end of the sick leave, my money dwindled down to half of my normal pay and I realised I could live on less. I could live on a part-time salary.

Yes, it meant switching to a cheaper supermarket, buying fewer clothes and going out less. But I believe sacrificing 40% of my pay to work on my dream is worth it. It’s all about the grand plan and long-term gains.

I Needed To Go Out Less

This has proved to be the hardest one for me. I love going out and hanging with my friends.

When there’s something going on, I want to be part of it. I struggle to turn down invitations. Maybe it’s a fear of missing out on a great night out or a party.

Saying no more often has been a tough skill to learn.

In a way, the lockdowns and restrictions on social gatherings have been a blessing in disguise for me. Since there’s nothing going on, I’ve not been tempted to stray from my promise to go out less and write more.

My commitment to reducing going out will be severely tested once COVID-19 has gone and normal gatherings can resume. I bet there will be some awesome parties to make up for the past year. I must stay strong…


I Looked At My Home Life

I’d imagine that with kids this might be harder. But since I’m a child-free person, this has been easy.

I’m quite happy to leave the hoovering until another day or washing the dishes until the morning and write instead. The housework will still be there the next day, but my brilliant idea might not.

The hardest part has been training my partner to leave me alone when I’m writing. Especially during lockdown he kept asking, “How’s it going?” every five minutes. With some less than subtle hints to let me focus, he improved.

Are You Waiting For The Perfect Time To Start Working On Your Dreams?

Stop waiting. There will never be the perfect time.

Another word for waiting is procrastinating. I was a master of that. Leaving things until tomorrow, or the weekend, or the next holiday. But then something else always took the priority because I was waiting for the perfect time.

The cancer diagnosis changed all that. I had to make a choice. Was I going to put my dream first or carry on with procrastinating forever?

There is no way I could give up on my dream now. So I have learnt to juggle life’s other commitments and my writing dream.

If you have a dream, learn to juggle. Take a risk and make sacrifices.

As the saying goes, ‘when there is a will, there is a way.’

Reija Sillanpaa
Reija Sillanpaa
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Reija Sillanpaa

Writer, reader, blogger, charity fundraiser. Find me on:

10% of what I earn on Vocal goes to Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

See all posts by Reija Sillanpaa