Sometimes we find that we’ve settled into a routine, into the way things have always been and into lower expectations from life than we once had. When we go back to some of those dreams that haven’t found expression, or see areas where mis-steps have caused us to doubt ourselves and our dreams we realize that maybe at this point in our lives, we’ve settled for less. Not that less is bad, it can actually be quite good, and we can be grateful for all we have and all we have been able to accomplish … but there is something more tugging at the back of our consciousness … a bit of regret or disappointment when we see similar desires manifested in the lives of others … things our rational minds can convince us are no longer options for us. “I’m too old, I’ve missed my chance, I took another path and I can’t get there from here” are common things we say to ourselves to quiet the nagging feeling that there is more we could have achieved.

But what if our deeply held desires are there for a reason? What if they are an innate part of our being that longs to express itself? Do we do ourselves a disservice by believing it can never happen? That our course is set and we cannot change where we are at or where headed?

Anything worth having requires unwavering belief that it can be, and determination to see it come to pass. We consult our hearts to find our true desires and purpose, our heads to layout the plans, and then mix our faith with action to see it come to pass. Here are some guidelines to walk yourself through this process of creating the life of your dreams:

  1. Take an inventory of your life now

What is going right? What currently brings you joy and satisfaction? What are your proudest accomplishments? Write these things down and reflect on them with gratitude. Whatever new plans you end up making, you will want to make room for these things or maybe even give them more room to grow!

What’s missing? Are there any areas you have fallen short, or have not given enough attention? Any opportunities that have been left on the table? Things you have wanted to do and never attempted? Desires you have had that you have never found an expression for? Write everything down – even if they seem silly or unattainable.

  1. Rethink what’s possible

Think outside the box. Write down the reasons you think you can’t, then respond to them with a way you can. If they are truly not possible, modify your desires to make them attainable. Maybe there are non-traditional means of achieving some of the things you desire. Maybe there are differences in the way they can now be manifest. Arm yourself with knowledge. Find experts on the subject to gain understanding, research books and articles on the internet in the area you are looking to break into. Count the cost. What will in cost in terms of time, energy and finances? Again, write down the perceived barriers and then write an answer in response.

  1. Lay out a plan

Describe what this new life will look like. It may not be drastically different from where you are at, but may have only subtle changes – or it may be a bold overhaul! Now what will it take to make it happen? What time frame would you like to see it happen? Break it down into chunks – what things specifically need to happen? Now break those chunks into action items. Set SMART Goals – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.

  1. Review your dreams and goals with trusted friends and advisors.

Not the naysayers in your life, but those who are positive and supportive and able to see beyond the present. They may have some ideas you have not thought of or be able to help prepare you for possible pitfalls – but most of all they can share the journey with you!

  1. Commit to being and doing your best.

Be self-disciplined and find accountability for your action plan. Inspire yourself with imagery or quotes that keep your dreams at the forefront. Be flexible – details of the plan may change so long as you are moving toward the ultimate goal. Don’t be overzealous – change will come with consistent action and keeping your eyes on the prize. Appreciate and enjoy where you are at on the way to where you are going.