Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How To Follow Your Dreams

Today I have something incredible in store for you! It's all about following your dreams. You've already figured out what your purpose is, so now we're gonna arm you with the how. (Get excited!)

I'm incredibly honoured to have Jenni from Story of My Life here today to tell you all about it! This is a girl whose blog has grown exponentially with her charm, wit, and sheer dedication. If you've been following along in her journey, you've witnessed the raw talent she has as a photographer as her business, J. Noel Photography, begins to flourish. This girl's got grit!

As someone who's in the thick of this following your dreams bit, Jenni has been an inspiration to me, and now she's here today, dishing out the straight-up honest truth about what she's learned in her own life.

Allie asked me to write a bit about following your dreams, I suppose because she thinks I'm good at it. I don't know how good at it I really am (most of the time I feel like I'm just stumbling along, following a little glimmer of hope and light I see off in the distance and believing it will pay off in a big way for me someday), but I'll happily share what I've learned along my journey so far. This is my truth.

1. Dream following has to start with an intense passion and a natural aptitude. Weirdly enough, that intense passion and natural aptitude, for me, was blogging. I've had this passion for years now, even a couple years before I actually started my current blog. I followed it, that thing that made me super happy and fulfilled me and that I was good at, and I poured countless hours of my life into it on the simple faith that doing something I loved this much could only lead to amazing things. And it has. It absolutely has. The story definitely isn't over yet, but I know today I have done the right thing.

The natural aptitude thing is so important too, though. When I was a kid, I used to want to be a famous singer when I grew up. Thank God my dad told me you have to have talent to be a famous singer, because who knows, I might have wasted years of my life on voice lessons and American Idol auditions and still had no natural aptitude. My point is, don't waste your life following a dream you think you should have, or a dream you have no skill for. Follow where your heart and your head and your God-given talents lead you. They don't lead you wrong.

2. Dream following is a flexible thing. Sometimes one dream leads you to another. Taking that first step of blind faith can be hard. In my case, I decided to pretty much be a full time blogger in lieu of getting a "real" job, even though I knew that it would probably be many years before I made even as much as I could make waiting tables at a busy restaurant. But I followed my passion and my aptitude, and my blogging gig has lead me to this other, beautiful passion for photography, which is turning out to be potentially much more profitable. Taking steps in a positive direction, following a glimmer of hope and a glimpse of a dream, opens the doors for things you never even knew you loved or were good at. It's a way cool thing.

3. Understand the gap. Own it.

4. Dream following is accomplished in the day-in and day-out, getting your hands dirty, doing the hard things other people won't. It is accomplished in the present moment. Never in the future. It is accomplished in the decision you make right now. To get your business cards designed instead of reading blogs. To sacrifice lunch dates to pay for your website design. To get up at 6:30 AM instead of 8:30, because you know you do your best work in the morning, if you can just get yourself out of bed. To make goals and ways to constantly remind yourself of them. To wake up even earlier to have time to mediate on those goals. To involve other people - to let all your friends and family know about your goals and how they can help you achieve them, even it just means understanding that you'll be poor for a year while you get your business off the ground.

All of this "in the present" work will look different for everyone. But this is the hardest lesson of all. FOLLOWING YOUR DREAMS IS SOMETIMES HARD WORK. Work that isn't fun. It isn't miserable, because you know it's contributing to and part of your dream, but it IS hard. That's what separates the successes from the failures. Willingness to do what others won't or can't. Willingness to train yourself where you are weak, to be different and be strong. In my case, I suffer terribly with FOCUS. I could have three times as much done for my blog and my photography business right now if I could just stay focused and not waste time throughout the day. So I am retraining myself, slowly but surely, to be focused. Some methods have worked, some haven't. For me, this is where the hardest work comes in. For you, it might be something different. But you can do it.

That's my best advice for now. :) Come visit me over at Story of My Life or j. noel photography anytime. Thanks for having me Allie, and thanks to YOU for reading!


  1. Thank you for the incredibly kind words, miss Allie. You're the best. Hope you have a wonderful day!

  2. Between you two ladies, I might just be inspired enough to freefall from space or something crazy. If only Red Bull would sponsor me...

    Jenni makes some seriously great points and her post on her blog as well was particularly good today. There is so much to be said for valuing yourself and believing in yourself. I'm not sure how we expect other people to value what we have to other and to believe us if we don't trust ourselves. Following your dreams is bloody hard work and you get a lot of people who don't think you can do it because their dreams didn't work out.

    I think we need to really value what we have to offer and respect ourselves. Jenni is such an inspiration! I'm glad I was able to read this :)


    1. Everything you said here is pure perfection. Valuing yourself and believing in yourself is EVERYTHING. What's even more important than that, is not letting other people de-value what you have - your dreams, goals, ambitions... because the fact is, not everyone is going to get it and people MAY just look at you like you have 5 heads. The trick is being focused and determined enough to power through anyway.

  3. That was really helpful and insightful to read. Finding that thing that makes you happy is hard, I think I may just be starting to figure out what that thing is for me. But any hardships that come with it definitely outweigh the difficulty of living a life you don't love. Love your photographs Jenni and thank you for introducing me to this blog too.