Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.
Do you have dreams you want to pursue, but never seem to have the time because of the twin demands of work and family?
Recently a reader asked:
“I will appreciate if you could post some perspective on lifestyle of people who work in office with lot of peer pressure, pressure from management and juggling between professional, family and personal life. How to make your dreams come true in such kind of environment.”
An excellent question, and one that many of us grapple with. I have six kids, and I know what it’s like to juggle a hectic work life with a hectic family life. It wasn’t long ago that I was trying to make my dreams come true with the twin pressures of work and family bearing down upon me, and I tried many things to overcome this barrier.
So what’s the quick answer? There isn’t one. It takes hard work. But the most important two factors are:
1. It has to be something you’re excited and passionate about; and
2. You have to make it a top priority, and structure your day so that it really is a priority.
Let’s go into more depth for each of these two factors.
Work on Something You’re Excited and Passionate About
This step might seem a bit trite or obvious but it’s crucial, and I think it’s something many people don’t think enough about.
Often people think they want to do something, but perhaps it’s just something they think would be nice to do … not something they’re really passionate about. If you’re passionate about something, you can’t wait to do it, and you’ll clear your schedule and make the time to do it. You’ll find a way, and when you’re doing it, you’re excited and happy (and maybe even a little obsessed).
Really think about whether you’re excited about your goals or dreams … if not, you might need to look for new dreams.
If you are excited, and you’re really working hard to pursue the dreams because of this excitement, move on to the next step!
Making Your Dreams a Priority
So how do you go from being excited about it to actually doing it? By making your dream your top priority.
That means every day, when you wake up, decide what you’re going to do to make that dream a reality. Then do that task first thing in the day, before even checking email. If you can’t do it first thing, schedule time for it. If it’s a priority, you’ll make the time.
But what about work and family? Obviously those are also priorities, so you’ll have to schedule time for all three. That might mean cutting back on the work you do, or watching less TV, or doing less Internet surfing or reading, or spending less time on email. Place limits on these routine-type activities, so that you can find the time to work on your dreams.
You might consider waking up earlier, or working late at night when your family is asleep. You might go in to work early so you’ll have some quiet time to work on your dreams, or leave early and work on your dreams right after work, or work on your dreams during lunchtime.
You can make the time, if you make it a priority.
It’s also important, of course, to take action — you can’t just schedule the time. You have to wake up from dreaming and actually get to the doing!
Again, make the action to move closer to your dream the first action you take each day, if at all possible. That way it won’t get pushed back to the end of the day, and then to the next day, and so on. Don’t let the dream tasks be pushed back!
Try to take action every single day on your dreams. Small steps add up over time.
Enjoy the Journey
Most of all, enjoy yourself. If you hate what you’re doing, you won’t do it for long. But if you really enjoy the activity, you won’t be able to wait — you’ll want to do it right now.
Whether your dream is writing a book or starting a new business or creating your own blog or taking photography or pursuing a graduate degree … don’t always keep your eye on the destination. Enjoy the journey, right here, right now, and appreciate what a gift it is to be able to follow your dreams.
Read more about making your dreams a reality in my book, The Power of Less.