1. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF.
Take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself: “What am I doing that I want to stop? What am I not doing that I want to begin?” Even if you have no idea what your passions and gifts are, undoubtedly you’re clear about something in your life. Start there.
2. MAJOR IN REALITY, MINOR IN DREAMS.
Pay attention to your desires, but be smart about your situation. Sometimes it’s best to pursue a dream on a part-time basis while you’re gathering the resources necessary to achieve it.
3. TAKE A STEP & SEE HOW IT FEELS.
If the thought of going back to school or learning something new scares you, don’t get paralyzed. Take baby steps! That’s what Linda Bach did. She dreamed of becoming a doctor, but was overwhelmed by the prospect of going to medical school in her 40’s. Her husband wisely counseled her to start with one course. “If you like it, take more,” he said. “If you don’t, then stop.” She graduated from the University of Miami Medical School at age 50 and was elected president of her class!
4. PERSIST, PERSIST, PERSIST.
Almost everyone experiences setbacks and loses momentum. The trick is not to lose heart or wallow in self-pity. Most people give up too soon.
5. BE CREATIVE IN OVERCOMING OBSTACLES.
Don’t let anything, even a lack of money or age discrimination, come between you and your dreams. If you’re facing a wall you can’t blast through, grab a shovel and dig under it or borrow a ladder and climb over the top! Better yet, just walk around the side. Take Evelyn Gregory, who became a flight attendant at age 71. After being rejected by three airlines, she accepted a job as a gate agent and let the corporate brass get to know her. Six months later, she was hired by US Air Express and flew for them for the next seven years.
6. REMEMBER THAT NOTHING YOU LIKE TO DO IS TIRESOME.
From the outside looking in, it sounds daunting to go to medical school at 46, join the Peace Corps at 65, or become a flight attendant at 71. But the truth is that it isn’t exhausting; it’s exhilarating. It’s far more tiring to do something you don’t enjoy.
7. CULTIVATE A SENSE OF HUMOR.
Laugh often-especially at yourself. Researchers at Loma Linda University in California have discovered that laughter not only reduces stress and stimulates the immune system, but also lowers dopamine levels. (Dopamine governs our “fight or flight response.”) In other words, a good laugh can ease the anxiety of risk-taking.
8. YA GOTTA BELIEVE.
If you don’t believe in yourself and your dreams, who will? Remember the ’69 Mets (or the ’04 Red Sox, for that matter) and the possibility of glorious, come-from-behind miracles. When one reaches an impasse, emotional or otherwise, that’s not the moment to turn back. It’s the moment to recommit to the journey.
9. BANISH GUILT.
The women in my book might not have made dinner for their families every night, but they inspired their children and the people around them. Without exception, they are now using their talents to help others. In the process of blossoming, in other words, they’ve connected more powerfully than ever before with the human community.
10. ENJOY THE JOURNEY!
Despite all your best efforts, there’s no guarantee of success. If you’re not enjoying yourself, you might want to take another look at Tip No. 1.