It was in a flea-infested and dim-lit basement in Jacksonville, Alabama where I sat down to write Five Flaming Arrows. I had no external motivators, no one telling me to “Just do it” or “Hey, it’s been awhile since you sat down to write… so write!” All I had was an internal desire to write something amazing; to write something that honored God and actually helped people whom I had counseled.
If you’re waiting for the external motivators (such as a cheerleader in your life or money from accomplishments) to start following your dreams, then you’ve already failed at achieving them. Likewise, if you’re waiting for your excuses to waver, then you’ve already failed because you’ll be waiting forever.
Humans are full of excuses: you don’t have enough time; you’re tired; you’re sick; it’s the holidays; it will distract you from others. Whatever the excuse is, if one goes away, you will invent another to take its place. So don’t let excuses drive you away from your dreams… your dream to write, to be a missionary, to become a rapper, to go to seminary, or your dream to create a YouTube channel. Whatever it is… Just do it. Who cares about the excuses!
Andy Mineo once said in his hit single You Can’t Stop Me, “My biggest enemy is me, and even I can’t stop me.” We truly are our biggest enemy. We stop ourselves, no one else does. We may say that we stopped doing something great because of criticisms or other factors, but the reality is that we are the ones who officially pull the trigger on our dreams. No one else can force us to quit.
The only question is this: are we strong enough to defeat ourselves?
Who cares if anyone cheers you on. Who cares if anyone notices that you went to the Philippines on a mission trip. Who cares if anyone even watches the YouTube channel you create. (This isn’t to say you shouldn’t market yourself, I’m just trying to make a point about attitude and diligence.) Just do it so that you can be satisfied in knowing that you did your best at following your dreams.
When I stared down the blank pages of Five Flaming Arrows, and tried to figure out what my next points would be in the area of Christian sanctification, at some point I just had to write whatever came to mind. Many times, I deleted what I had written. But, failing is truly just as important as succeeding, especially when it comes to following your dreams. Because, when you fail, you realize what you did wrong—hopefully—and then you can make the corrections to get even closer to accomplishing your goal. There were numerous chapters in the Science section of my book that I deleted (it was around 50 pages), not because I didn’t agree with the content, but because I felt that the content distracted the reader from the actual purpose of the book. My point here is be ready to destroy what you’ve done and start over, this is the refining process and it will only make you better.
Ann Brashares once said, “Your problem isn’t the problem. It’s your attitude about the problem.”
We have to have an attitude shift in our minds and hearts if we are ever to take risks, if we are ever to set aside the time to follow something that may never offer a return on the investment; if we ever are to become willing to destroy what we’ve done, and to continue to march onward. You should pray for that attitude shift. Pray for an attitude that simply wants to make God happy, and is willing to brave the intense process that is required to achieve a dream given by Him.
I believe God gives us dreams to accomplish things in a manner that glorifies Himself, and when we do that, we can be very satisfied that what we are doing is holy and purposeful.
My dream to write Five Flaming Arrows was not something that I had since I was a child. It took a summer in Missouri before I noticed it. But after that experience, I wrote my first book, and now I’m working on a second: a Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel that I’m even more excited about (many details to come). So, the point here is that you may not have realized your passion yet, and that’s ok. But when it comes, don’t let pathetic excuses get in the way of making them come to fruition. Heck, I wrote Five Flaming Arrows during my toughest college year, during Senior Practicum and Senior Internship. And now, I’m halfway finished with my Fantasy novel, and I’m halfway through what is arguably the toughest year for a teacher, the first year. The first year for a teacher is called the Survival Year for a reason; you’re frantically trying to learn how to teach well, plan lessons, compute things in iNow (a horrendous grading software), and make meaningful connections with students and players. I refuse to let the stereotype of this “intense challenge” get in the way of my teaching, coaching, or my passion for writing excellent material.
So… how can we achieve our dreams despite challenges and excuses? The answer is actually very simple: write them down! Write your dreams and goals on a piece of paper, preferably in the back of whatever notebook you use to make notes when you read scripture, and return to them weekly and meditate on whether you have taken steps to make gains.
According to a study by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California: You actually become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams by writing them down on a frequent basis.
Need I say more? Throw away the excuses this New Years, and replace them with your written goals, and I’ll see you next year and we can talk about all the amazing things you and I both have accomplished.
Cite: Faucett, D. (2018). Just Do It: Follow Your Dreams. Faucett Journal. Retrieved from https://faucettjournal.com/articles/just-do-it-follow-your-dreams