Happy Chinese New Year and welcome to the Year of the Dragon. Not being Chinese, I don’t see the dragon as strength and motivation, but rather as a deadly foe to be overcome. And Tolkein agrees with my view. We just read The Hobbit aloud as a family, and admired Bilbo’s prowess at skillfully tricking the dragon Smaug, armed only with his ring and his cleverness, into leaving the lair and his gold. And we admire the skillful archer with the thrush-friend who slays the dragon and saves the town. The dragon was the main obstacle in the dwarves’ dream of regaining their ancient hereditary kingdom and the gold of their ancestors.
What is your dragon? Is this the year that you will embrace your dream and begin to do what you love, where you really want to live? I hope you’ve already started on that quest. But if you haven’t what hinders you? If you aren’t doing what you love, a little bit every day, right now, there is a dream-stealer operating behind the scenes to thwart you. What is your dream? What is your dragon?
The Dragon of Excuses
Are you still playing at your dreams instead of embracing them and going after them in a serious way. Are you telling yourself that you plan to do X when you retire, or when you get good enough or when some gatekeeper says, “You may?” When I was 7 years old I decided I was going to be a writer when I grew up. I pursued that dream for 15 years, until I graduated from university with a degree in English. Then I asked myself, “what are you going to write about?” At that point I was already published. I went to writers’ conferences, read writers books’, even subscribed to Writer’s Magazine and Writer’s Digest for several years and took a creative writing course. Although I had already published several pieces at that time, for money, I decided I had nothing worthwhile to say — nothing world changing, nothing that would make a difference. I didn’t want to be the voice of the status quo, and I didn’t want to be REJECTED and so I just played at writing. I didn’t seriously give it the time one needs to learn the craft and live the dream, until lately.
When I learned to spin, I decided I was going to be a professional fiber artist, and I spun every day. I learned to felt, to weave, to dye with both chemical and natural dyes, and started selling what I made until it became a significant part of my livelihood. The difference between accepting the excuse in my writing, which was really fear, and embracing the dream in my fiber work, was in taking it seriously, as if it was a job, and working at it a bit every day.
If you want to overcome this dream-stealer, you need to ask yourself if you are ready to stop playing around and to start actually living the dream every day. And then start. Take an hour every day and give it to your dream. Take your lunch hour, or get up early, or stay up later to get that hour. You have 23 hours to do every thing else. Give 1 hour to your dream. Forget Facebook or Pinterest — don’t even go online during that time.
Make it the same time everyday and follow your dream like a habit. Psychologists tell us that after 30 days of consistent practice any behaviour becomes a habit. Let go of the excuses. Let go of the fear. Stop waiting for the Gate Keepers to give you permission. Do it. Start thinking of yourself as a professional and begin to act like it. As you do this something magical happens — you start to become what you dreamed you would be. Others begin to notice. The Gatekeepers notice, too, and they will come to you and ask for your participation. And the dragon of excuses will slink quietly away, just like “Puff, the magic dragon” that “pulled his tail inside his cave.”
I read an article by Writer, Jeff Goins about this today.
The Fire Breathing Dragon
That fire breathing dragon is the most perilous foe. It starts with beguiling talk, as when Smaug was talking to Bilbo, trying to mesmerize him into telling who he was and where he came from. He beguiled with flattery, in an attempt to trick Bilbo into revealing his true nature. But it ended predictably in fire and destruction. Don’t let the fire-breathers destroy your dreams with their negative talk. Don’t allow them to control you with their beguiling flattering and feined friendship. The fire-breathers aren’t thinking of you and what is best for you. They have a vested interest in the treasure of the status quo and their own comfort.
Put out fire with water. Surround yourself with those who will support you in your quest to perfect your skills. Read books that will give you the skills you need to succeed. Join online communities that are already realizing the same dream that you have — if your dream is to write, find some writing blogs and sign up for their news letters. If your dream is to homestead, Joybilee Farm is a good blog to join to encourage you in your dreams — go all out and join the Facebook page, sign up for the newsletter and subscribe to the RSS feed (the buttons are on the right hand side of this page). You will gain refreshment to quiet the negative talk.
Sometimes the fire breathers are your own family. You may need to quench their fire with reason. If this is the case, by surrounding yourself with the refreshing streams of advice and support for your dreams, you will find answers for their fire. And you may even transform them from Fire-breathing dragons to fellow travellers.
The Hoarding Dragon
This dragon lies restlessly on his mound of gold and sleeps fitfully, only stirring if his resources are threatened. He sits upon the golden treasure of time, money, and strength and tells you there is not enough resources for you to pursue your dreams. As long as you allow him to sleep without trying to borrow from his vast hoard he will ignore you. You will recognize this foe when you hear the voices that tell you, “I would do this if I had more time.” ” I will pursue my dream after we get out of debt.” I will go after that prize when I have more energy or after I lose weight, or when we get a place of our own.”
You overcome this dragon by looking at what you do have, instead of what you don’t have. In my last post, I talked about being generous with others, using the things you do have. Today I want you to be generous with yourself. It is not selfish to take the gifts and dreams that God has placed in your heart and to pursue them with the resources that God has given you. You are here for a reason. The world needs your gifts. You need to do the work and you need to send your work out to change it and make it a better place. And in that you will gain all the things that the hoarding dragon tells you there isn’t enough of.
Don’t let the Dragons decide your destiny. You are the dragon slayer and you can make your dreams reality, one day at a time. Will you accept the quest?
What are your dreams? What are your dragons? Leave a comment.
Saint George and the Dragon
The Quest for the Flaming Pearl: Tales of St. George and the Dragon
The Writer’s Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life
Photo credit: Shared under a Creative Commons License from Foxypar4 on Flickr.