Deadlines & Dreams (Blackmailing Myself to Run a 5k)

Last year I stood next to Mariah Carey, my favorite singer, speechless for about 15 seconds while a photographer snapped our picture. Later that year, I went to a haunted house for the first time and was terrified AF. And, this year, I’m training for my first 5k.

These are all items on my bucket list. These are also just a few items on my dream list. Some of them are small such as visit a haunted house (never again, I don’t even know why that was on my bucket list!). And some of them are big such as live in Australia for a year. And some just seem impossible such as meet Mariah Carey. I mean, how many times can someone chase her car wearing a strapless dress?

So… are bucket list items…dreams?

That Time I Met My Favorite Singer, Mariah Carey.

Dreams come in all shapes and forms. Many people only see it as only career related but I see it as much more than that. My list includes career dreams and personal dreams and a little something-something in between. I don’t just have one dream. I have many. While I have strange things on my bucket list that I wouldn’t necessarily consider to be a dream, many items on my list are dream-related ( i.e. write and publish a book).

But there’s a catch with dreams, bucket list items, goals, and basically anything you ever want to get accomplished ever. You have to do something to make it happen. I mean, of course I wish that a unicorn would walk in and just hand me my dreams and I can just continue scrolling through Instagram, looking at those motivational memes about how I can do anything I set my mind to and then take a nap.

Now, that is the ultimate dream! Seriously though, we all know that the likelihood of a unicorn walking in here with my dreams is only a 50% chance.

Maybe a kangaroo can give me all my dreams…

But the thing about crossing off bucket list items, dreams coming true, and achieving anything has a lot to do with determination, discipline and desire, which will likely get you closer to your dreams than reading motivational memes. (Hey, no hate on motivational memes, I love that stuff, but if you focus too much on reading them instead of doing what it says, then what’s the point of reading them in the first place, right?)

I’ve decided to give one of my bucket list items a deadline – run a 5k. And I actually feel like I’m making progress. I’m not the greatest or the fastest and sometimes I’ll say a few swear words because I’m not a fan of cardio (but do it anyway because it’s good for you), but I’m making progress. I pretty much blackmailed myself into it by signing up for a 5k before I started my training. This way I’m forced to train because I know it’s coming up and I have this HUGE fear that I’ll be the last one or that I’ll stop halfway and just start crying. So I turn on the c25k app (couch to 5k – an 8 week free program to help beginners get off the couch and train for a 5k), turn on my playlist, and try to keep a steady pace. Sometimes I have to repeat weeks but I am making progress and I am much closer to crossing it off my bucket list than I was a year ago.

Training for my first 5k!

Don’t you wish you could blackmail yourself to do everything in life? Imagine how much stuff you’d get done! I’d have 7 books written and published by now while brainstorming ebook ideas.

Sometimes it feels like we’re running out of time and feel like we’ve failed if we don’t accomplish XYZ in x amount of time by a certain age. But the reality is you can start anytime no matter what circumstances or age or setbacks.

You can start anytime.

Not too long ago, I was being a bit on hard on myself for not accomplishing as much as I would have liked to this year. Then I had to stop and rearrange the way I was thinking and treating myself because I wasn’t celebrating what I had accomplished this year (no matter how small). I was focusing too much on what I didn’t do. I didn’t think to pat myself on the back for the things that I did do.

Because slow progress, you guys, is progress.

Me And My Crap While Traveling

As I mentioned – write and publish a book is on my list. Last year I made progress but I decided to step back from it this year because the topic that I was writing about was affecting me mentally and it came from a place of anger, bitterness and resentment. I was just becoming an unhappier version of me while working on it. Perhaps I will revisit this project in the future when I’m in a better place about it mentally and don’t feel such bitterness when I write about it. Maybe I’ll even brainstorm some new book or ebook ideas (I actually did in the beginning of this year but fell short of discipline). The good news is that I will continue to get more book ideas. I just have to write the damn thing. I could really use that unicorn right now.

The other good news is that I still have dreams. And I still believe in them. No matter how much I age or how many mistakes I make along the way or setbacks I have. The bad news? I need to work on that determination, discipline and desire structure I mentioned earlier and stop reading so many memes.

I love this post by Joel Runyon about blackmailing yourself into accomplishing your goals. I personally haven’t tried his method yet (maybe I should?) but I love the concept. Basically you write a (big) check to an organization/company/person you don’t support, give it to a friend you know who will follow through, set a date to accomplish your goal and if you don’t accomplish it by then, your friend will be forced to donate your money (a crazy amount of money, too!) to something that you don’t support. The whole point is you don’t want to donate a large amount of money (that you can’t afford) to something that you can’t stand, so you’re forced to take action and accomplish your goal by that date. Cool idea!

Or you can do my method – sign up for something, so you’re locked in and then you’re forced to do it. In my case, I signed up for a 5k about 3 months before it will take place, so not only do I have time to prepare, but I HAVE to prepare. Another example is when I went to Australia, I purchased a one-way (expensive and nonrefundable) plane ticket and paid for the working visa (also, nonrefundable and it was expensive AF). So I was forced to go, especially since I knew I couldn’t get that type of visa again (once in a lifetime). I had a deadline and I had to follow through or not only would I have lost out on A LOT of money, I would have missed out on an experience of a lifetime.

One of my favorite blogs – yes and yes – focuses a lot on following your dreams. In this article about chasing your dreams without hating your life, Sarah said that a lack of resources is not an excuse.

“If it’s important, you’ll find a way, if it’s not you’ll find an excuse,” she says in the article.

Deadlines are the ish, yo. When you’re holding yourself accountable, you really have to hold yourself accountable. And just because you’re not perfect or don’t have all the equipment you need (or think you need), doesn’t mean that you can’t get started. I literally held off on starting my training for the 5k because I didn’t have a running belt but all I had to do was order one off of Amazon or hold my crap in my hands.

It’s OK if you’re not perfect or don’t have everything you need. You can still get started and learn along the way! We’ve all had to do something new at one point or another and eventually figured it out, right?

I use to run two blocks, huff and puff and wonder why I wasn’t good at it. The c25k app has taught me that I need to build up the endurance – jog, walk, jog, walk. During my training, I’m learning to work on my breathing, too. And I’m learning how to stretch properly before and after. Before you learn how to walk, you have to learn how to crawl.

I’m sure there are tools like c25k to help you with your goals. Let’s go back to my writing and publishing a book dream. In a post on Selz, they list helpful tools and resources to help with your writing goals. I’ve actually used Scrivener (listed in the post) a bit last year and earlier this year to help me organize and outline that book I was working on. So if you’re struggling to get your book or ebook ideas in order, consider picking an ebook tool. The article presents some cool tips to get your ebook ideas organized and accomplished. Or just take some time to research tools that will help you reach your goal.

Sometimes it helps to have a deadline with your dreams (definitely easier with some things than others). If your dream is to start a business or work for yourself and you don’t know where to start, try devoting some time to learning more about it – read books, blogs, talk to people who are doing what you want to do, and join social media groups. Brainstorm ideas of what you’d like to do when you transition into working for yourself. Learn everything you can, read about selling online tips, and keep at it because it might not happen right away, but it will happen.

A great example is when I was really serious about writing that book, I’d meet with a writer’s group every Sunday and we’d write together. The group helped me stay motivated.

For years, I was convinced that I just couldn’t exercise at home until I really started doing it this year. And guess what? I’m really loving it. I thought that I wasn’t a runner but the truth is I needed to train myself to do it and stay the course. I thought that I couldn’t travel solo until I made myself get on a plane and just go.

“If it’s important, you’ll find away, if it’s not you’ll find an excuse.”

This year I set a few specific, lofty goals for myself. And while I’m not even close to achieving them, I want to at least cross something off my list this year (and make progress with my other goals).

It’s really difficult to get your butt up and get going and take action. Trust me. I know the struggle is real. But it’s totally possible! So whatever it is that you want to do – travel the world, find (or create!) that dream job, work for yourself, start a blog and start selling online tips or just document your life, write a book, your dreams are worth it. You are worth it. And when your dreams and goals have a deadline, suddenly your dreams become a bit more achievable.

Dreams are free to have. Don’t be afraid to have them. Don’t be afraid to go after them, either.

(As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been freelancing with Selz for a few months and they offered me a few bucks to link a few of their popular posts.)

Tell me 1 thing that is on your bucket or dream list that you’ve achieved or are working towards right now.

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