Let Go of “I Can’t…” and Go After What You Want

Happy and Free

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” ~Nelson Mandela

Do you wish your circumstances in life were different? Have you reconciled yourself to accept that you can't achieve your goals? Do you think it would be nice to travel, but you don't think you can afford it?

It's time to change your mindset and learn how to take control of your own life.

Think Like a Child

Children don't like to accept “no” for an answer. They question every refusal. “But why not?” they ask.

“Because we can't afford it” is not an acceptable answer to a child. That has no real meaning to him.

A couple of years ago, my son set his heart on a gaming computer. That's a souped-up, fancy, faster, better, very expensive desktop PC. The price on these things start at over $1,000.

I explained it was out of the question, not in the realm of possibility for us at my income level. But he wouldn't let it go. He wouldn't accept that we couldn't afford one. He had to find a way. He kept coming up with ideas and “what ifs.”

What if his grandparents and everyone we know who buys him birthday and Christmas presents put all their money together to buy the gaming computer?

Well, that still wouldn't be enough money, but the more intelligent his suggestions became, the more I started to take them seriously. Maybe he's onto something here. We sat down to brainstorm and write down ideas of how we could actually make this happen.

And we did make it happen! We asked my ex if he would contribute to the new computer, and he agreed to help. My son asked for cash only from family members for his birthday and Christmas. The ex found a friend who could build a computer for our son, and we ordered the parts from Amazon.

We ended up getting a sleek and beautiful, powerful gaming computer worth about $1,500, but it only cost me $400.

A few months later, my daughter shared her monumental dream of going to Paris. Having just learned the above lesson from my son, I refrained from saying, “No possible way! We can't afford it.”

Instead of dismissing the idea as unrealistic or out of the question, I thought about it seriously and came up with a plan to save from my tax refund over the next several years. My daughter will be asking grandparents for cash gifts for her coming birthdays during that time span as well.

We began this plan right after she turned thirteen, and our goal is to visit Paris by the time she is seventeen.

Develop a Plan 

What do you want out of life? Is there something you want to achieve that you think is out of your reach?

First, change your mindset. Instead of dismissing your dream as unrealistic or too big, ask yourself what it would take to accomplish it. Don’t dismiss your dreams; think how you can make them happen!

Brainstorm with friends or family. Sometimes they will have different ideas you may not have thought of. Anyone who is not helpful or tries to tell you that you can’t achieve your goal does not get to play!

Develop a plan for achieving what you want in small, do-able steps. Make each step relatively easy to accomplish so you achieve success right away. That feeling of success in achieving each goal will motivate you to reach the next one.

Too often, people fail in achieving their goals simply because they don’t develop a do-able plan like this to help them succeed.

Do you want to earn a degree, lose twenty pounds, move to a nicer place, or organize your house? Develop your plan to begin your process of getting there!

For example, instead of the vague idea of losing twenty pounds, come up with a plan to set several smaller steps that you can reach easily.

You could start with the first step something like committing to exercise for twenty minutes while watching your favorite TV shows only three days a week. Or walk the dog ten minutes longer each day. Something that makes sense for you with your own lifestyle that will be easy for you to succeed.

Then when you get that step down, go to your next step which could be eating a healthy salad for lunch three days a week or drink a glass of water before each meal or whatever you know will work for you to accomplish another step closer toward your ultimate goal.

You will stay motivated as you achieve each step, and the process will be much more painless than attempting a strict diet or exercise regimen all at once.

When New Year’s resolutions fail, it is usually because a whole lifestyle change is much more difficult to stick to than one easy positive change at a time. Be patient. Those small positive changes will lead you to achieve big goals!

In the scenario of organizing the house, increase your chance of success by developing your plan of small, do-able steps, and then accomplish the first one. You could start with a hall closet one weekend. Your child’s left-side dresser drawers. A section of the garage.

As you mark off each small goal successfully accomplished, you move closer toward your ultimate goal of the whole house. You’ll be much more likely to keep motivated because you will not feel too overwhelmed with those small tasks you can accomplish quickly.

After you develop your plan and divide your goal into small, do-able steps, take that first step. Now you've actually started! Reach your first easy goal, and then ride on that feeling of success to accomplish the next one. You’re unstoppable! Be patient and persevere. You’ll get where you want to be!

What dream can you make your reality by developing your plan to make it happen?

Photo by Kara Harms

About Deborah Shelby

Deborah Shelby writes inspiration for a happier and better life on her blog  She shares ideas for improving your outlook on life, your relationships at home with your kids, at work or in your spiritual life.  She is a full-time working mom who enjoys life with her two teens whenever she can.

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  • “Don’t dismiss your dreams; think how you can make them happen!” is a positive and productive perspective to have. I’ve taken that small actionable steps approach when cleaning and organizing my home, and in doing so, have found the process to go much faster than looking at everything and getting that daunting feeling of all the time it would take to get it all done. When I try to go at it all at once, it seems like cleaning and organizing will take forever, but when I focus on different areas one-at-a-time, more gets completed. Now, if only I can apply that to my social and professional selves a little better, life would be grand! 🙂

  • Deborah Shelby

    Thanks, Nicole. I find it easier to accomplish goals in my home life than my professional life too. Career goals take me longer. Good luck with your social and professional selves!

  • Talya Price

    I try very hard not to dismiss my dreams. My dreams are very important to me. I feel like I am at a tug a war with myself when it comes to my dreams and passions. I hate my day job. There i said it. I am not happy in the place where I am living. I have big dreams and I know I have to take baby steps to achieve them. But sometimes it is discouraging when you get a rejection or a delay.

    I am so happy you shared your story. It resonated with me on many levels and with the crazy week I have had, I hope that I can find the guidance from The Universe to help me achieve my goals and dreams.

    Thank you.

  • Deborah Shelby

    Talya, don’t give up! A few years ago, I re-entered the workplace after being a stay-at-home-mom for several years. I barely made minimum wage, and I hated my job. My marriage had failed, and the kids and I were living in a scuzzy low-rent apartment complex. I know what it feels like to experience discouragement! Please keep faith, stay positive, and persist in working toward your dreams! It’s very frustrating that change takes so much time, but I noticed a big difference in my life in about two years, and now the difference is HUGE from several years ago. Work hard, and you’ll get everything you want. Good luck, Talya!

  • Ashley

    Talya, I am right there with you, I feel the same. The thing I have realized lately is that it is easy to talk about making goals and achieving goals but that we never talk about the in-between. The every day, “I’m working towards my goals, but my day job sucks and I hate my life” or the “I’m working so hard towards running a marathon but seriously I can’t breathe after the second mile” part. We work towards our goals and our passions and dreams and it’s not how we imagined it to be. It is discouraging and it’s painful, but it’s worth it. Change is uncomfortable. You can do it, just don’t be afraid to work through the pain. I wish you well.

  • After I have developed a plan, I will look for people who are like-minded so that we can work together to accomplish the goal. I feel that 2 heads are always better 1. Getting mentorship from someone who has achieved what I want and is willing to help me is even more important because I will actually save a lot of time figuring out whether the plan which I am taking action on is feasible.

  • Deborah Shelby

    What a great idea, Edmund! Having a mentor, he can support and motivate you, and you can also learn from his experience. I love it!

  • Enjoyed thepost. I agree we need to not get defeated by our dreams andgoals and start with small steps. These small steps aren’t scary and can be fitted into busy lives and gradually they build into bigger progress. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what the step is as it matters more than we did something towards our dream.

  • Deborah Shelby

    Thanks, Peter. I agree, taking any step toward reaching our goal/dream is important.

  • Flo

    It’s so easy to stop dreaming when you have a full time job and small kids to care for. I’m of the mind that my dreams are just on hold until my kids are old enough to look after themselves a bit more. Thinking that way helps me not get too down about my current situation!

  • Deborah Shelby

    Hi, Flo. You bring up a very good point. There are certain times in life when putting our dreams “on hold” for a bit is the right thing to do, such as putting the needs of your young children ahead of your own desires. That is a wonderful, unselfish act that more people should emulate. We can go back to pursuing our goals and dreams when the time is better for our children. I’m so glad you brought that up!

  • Hi Deborah! Love that you were able to teach your kids a valuable life lesson. When I was little, my parents did the same thing for me. I really wanted a piano to start taking lessons, so my parents said I had to raise my own money to buy their friends piano for $500. I decided to make brownies and cookies a few times per week and sell them at my dad’s office. It worked! I got the piano all by myself as a hardworking 9 year-old and ended up taking lessons for several years. Great article and advice!! 🙂 Check out my blog if you’d like to connect more! – Caylee

  • Deborah Shelby

    Thanks, Caylee. I am so impressed with your work ethic and character even from childhood! That is amazing you were able to raise your own money to buy a piano. I would be happy to check out your blog. See you there!