5 Steps to Dreaming Big

We want to make our mark on the world in some individual way. Even more we want to be known.  We make friends. While engaging in relationships we find ourselves changing, or even worse, awaken one day to find we have changed into someone who has veered away from the path we thought ourselves originally on. Sometimes we like who we have become; who our relationships and experiences have made us. And sometimes we don’t.

At times these traits are obvious to us and at others they are not. When I first started this post, I realized that week that I’d become a pushover and a scaredy cat. (We often delay our blogs to protect the innocent–which is usually ourselves!) Anyway. At the time I was afraid to leave my job. For many ridiculous reasons that at the time seemed important and true. One: my life feels like a delicate balance and I don’t want to disrupt it. Two: my job was pretty easy and it paid me reasonably. Three: they know me. I’d been at the job for over three years. Four: they seemed willing to work with my crazy schedule.

All of these are bullshit. My life is a delicate balance, but living is about how you deal with obstacles while pursuing your passion. No job (or relationship, for that matter) is “easy” when you’re not being treated right–and sadly, I didn’t  feel like I was being treated well. Which leads to three–obviously they didn’t know me if they felt they could mistreat me. And my schedule isn’t so crazy and it’s not that I’m not accommodating when needed if possible.


Life is a delicate balance, but living is about how you deal with obstacles

while pursuing a passion.


Well, I woke up a week after writing the above. Went into work like a good worker bee, determined to keep my head down and keep working.  During my shift, I found out I was denied my request for time off to perform the show I was already cast in. I lost it. In what feels like the “Hulk smash” version of myself, I decided I didn’t need a job that told me I couldn’t put myself first, and I quit.

I hold myself in high esteem. I’m a calculated person and I very rarely make snap judgements, uninformed choices, or un-researched plans. For better or for worse, I rarely walk into a big decision without a plan. Quitting a job is just not something I do. This was a big decision, and I had talked myself out of it so many times, but when the thing I am most passionate about was put on the table, I didn’t think twice.


When the thing I am most passionate about was put on the table, I didn’t think twice.


Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics: “stop worrying where you’re going. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ve gone. Just keep moving on.”  These lyrics always reassure me, no matter what I’m in the middle of. In other words, stop thinking about it and just go. Just make the choice. If you are that passionate about making the change happen, things will fall into place. If I hadn’t quit, I probably would have gotten let go, because I was going to do those performances. It was also time to leave that job. But I sat in it for too long because I didn’t value myself enough.

A while ago I wrote a blog on self-worth. This is a gigantic topic that we as a society don’t talk about enough. Therefore we question our worth, and what we want fights a battle against what we can offer. Which determines our worth.  If you continually think down on yourself, hold yourself back, or tell yourself that you’re not worth it, you never will be.


Maybe you continually beat yourself up because you don’t know how to do anything else. And if you pick on your own weaknesses, it won’t hurt as much when someone else does it.


I don’t know you. I don’t know your situation. I do know that I’ve been in both types of situations: the ones where I succumbed and stuck with something I didn’t want to do, and I’ve stuck up for myself and went my own way. Both choices have led to both good and bad outcomes. However, most times I’m  much happier standing up for myself, even though I might have to work harder, give up things, ask for help or money, and suffer a little.

How do you begin? Here is a place where lists will help you.

  1. Figure out why you dislike where you are–and “being you” doesn’t count. Is it because of hours you don’t like, not able to have a creative outlet?
  2. Can you change this by staying in your current situation but by just rearranging things?
  3. What is more important: comfort or creative? Heads up–pursuing the creative or the passion isn’t always easy. Generally it’s twice as tough because if you fail at even the smallest parts of your plan, it’s painful.
  4. Figure out your financials–this isn’t to say “don’t leap until you can afford to” but instead, “understand what downgrades and adjustments will need to be made, so it’s not so harsh a reality later.”
  5. Breathe deep and leap.

Just know that if you’re meant to do whatever your passion is, you’ll find the support. My gal Angie Atkinson is a huge example of this (outside of LL and I). Angie started her path to rock stardom three years ago, and isn’t famous yet, but you’ll hear about her soon. Angie started out wanting to move to NYC to be an actress.  That dream (and her amazing acting prowess) brought her to the city.  However, she decided it wasn’t the path for her anymore, and instead wanted to write and perform music.  She has been working on this in her spare time; writing, rehearsing; performing; and making an album–which she just released–go to iTunes or Amazon to buy it!!  For now check out a video or two.

Remember, whatever mark you want to make, you’re probably already on the path either to make it–just take a look around, what are you happiest doing?  What do you spend the most of your time doing?  Are they similar?  Why not?

We only get one life, so live it large.

Clare

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5 questions to help you focus your dreams.

I think I was six when I said, when I grew up I either wanted to be an archeologist or an actress. I loved digging in the dirt, and wanted to either find dinosaurs or Egyptian artifacts. I also loved playing dress up and creating my own version of skits in the back yard with all of my friends. I’ve always loved working with people and finding stories. Ultimately, that is what both of my career choices was about for me. What I didn’t understand as a child, is that both lives don’t always lead to the average living situation with a husband, kids, dog, house, mortgage, car, fence, etc. But you don’t think about those things as a kid.

When we were children it was easy to glamorize a career. It becomes part of our identity, our dream job. Children are often asked what they want to be when they grow up—it’s a standard question. It might change as we go through high school and college, depending on our aptitude and what we are exposed to.  But generally, we hold onto those dreams, those career goals.

I come from the fairy tale generation.  We grew up with Disney, parents who told us we could be anything we wanted to be, and President Clinton telling us that everyone deserved to go to college.  The trouble is, once through college, or stepping into the real world, we try our dream out.  We stretch our legs and try out our skills… but it sometimes isn’t enough, or isn’t the right fit.  As adults we still dream about a career or a goal, especially in the ones that are continually in our faces. The sane ones that we can judge on the surface, but don’t understand the depths of what they actually take to live them.

I’m approaching my five year anniversary in New York. It’s a very exciting milestone, for me. I have survived one of the most brutal cities, and have been somewhat successful in the career I wish to be in. The buckets of money have yet to arrive for my performances, however, I feel like I’m successful in my persistence in this career, as well as my achievements. However, as an actor I’m continually terrified. Terrified of when my next creative job will arrive. Terrified of where the money will come from. Terrified by the dozens of friends, who are just as talented, who quit the business and move home. Its an alarmingly large rate of people who attempt this city, only to return home a year or three later. They have either seen the dark side of the dream, accomplished the dream and didn’t achieve the level of happiness they wanted, or did and are ready for a new dream.

The thing about dreams is they keep us going.  They give us something to wake up in the morning for.  They give our life excitement and challenge. Drive is so important in life. Something or someone to wake up for is a necessity in life. However, we do grow and change and our life and choices form us, and remold us into different adults. We look back and forward at the same time and wonderwhat we really want to achieve. Some of my friends have gotten to the point in their lives and realize that what they really want out of life isn’t offered by their chosen career. Other friends figured this out in college, or just after, and diverted their path towards other things like children, or homes, or staying in the town they grew up. And that is perfectly fine. Point: sometimes the dream we have had in our head since childhood isn’t the one we really want to achieve.

Sometimes this stifles us. Sometimes it releases us. What is it that you are really dreaming? Do you want a specific job? Or perhaps a way of life, instead?

Start with your current dream: What is it?

Maybe get a piece of paper or something to make notes. And be honest with yourself.

What attracts you to it–this dream? Is it the goal itself or what the goal will bring? (for instance, if you want to be an actor, do you want to actually be a part of the craft, or do you want to be famous, or do you want to have money?)

Why are you attracted to that aspect? (if it’s the craft, is it because you love that you can become someone else? You like bringing life to someone else’s words? If its famous, do you like that it can open doors? Do you like that you can be charitable to whomever you want to? Do you like that your picture will be everywhere? If it’s the money, what do you want to do with that money? Do you think that getting the money is easy by acting?)

What are you doing to achieve that goal? (Are you auditioning daily? Are you watching movies and reading gossip magazines? Are you only dreaming?)

Switch gears.

What is stopping you from going after the goal? Fear? No talent? No connections? Family/job/money stopping you? (If its fear—do you really want it? If its talent—why are you still drawn to it? If its no connections—why don’t you have them, as in do you need to start looking, or go back to school, or network? If its family/your job/money—are you sure you’re not making excuses only to keep you from it?

If you had to give up everything and only choose one: your family, your dream, your security—which would you choose?

Think about your answers to the questions. Maybe the dream you’re dreaming isn’t the right focus.

Social media gives us a great view of society and sociology. Many people post what they love most and what they are most proud of on social media. What are you posting? Also, what makes you jealous, no matter how slight, when friends post it—why does this make you feel that way?

I dreamt of being an actress. I’m still in the process of making that happen, bumps and bruises, rejection, and the lack of having a “regular life” make it frustrating and mildly unappealing to me. That is my inside view. I look at Facebook and how people I went to college and high school with are married with children and enjoying their lives, while I sit, single in NYC. But I did dream the right dream. Maybe if you sit, looking out your window at others, you should take a look at what you really want and desire. Start with my questions above and analyze yourself. If you need help, feel free to reach out at liveclarelesley@gmail.com

Dreams are amazing. They pull us through the drudge of daily life. But, if it’s the wrong dream, it could be detrimental to your spirit. What do you really want? Re-tailor your life to that dream!

–Clare

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(Art by de la vega, photo by Live ClareLesley)