This post is by Jim Nelson of LiveWorkDream.com.
As trite as it may sound, when life throws lemons at you the best thing you can do really is to make lemonade. I suggest adding sugar, and enjoying every last sip.
We were living the entrepreneurial dream. In 1998 my wife and I escaped the rat race and left lucrative Silicon Valley jobs to start our own home-based graphic design firm in the rural coastal town of Eureka, CA. By 2006 we had grown our business to include Fortune 500 clients, expanded into a 3700 sq. ft. Victorian home office, developed an online storefront, and outfitted a full-service large format graphic production studio. We were making good money and enjoying the success we had built for ourselves. Then our dog got cancer.
Jerry was our Chief Fun Officer. He kept us sane during the endless hours we worked, and he was always there for us when the stress of dealing with clients, color correction, inventory, and overhead got to be too much. It was our turn to pay him back for his years of dedication and selfless service. After proceeding with an amputation to remove the tumor growing in his shoulder, and being given a prognosis of four to six months, we took a serious look at our situation and wondered what we might do to make the most of the remaining time we had together.
Our little venture was at a point where we seriously needed to hire sales and production help. We were in debt up to our elbows and over our heads in work. The last ten years had flown by as we slaved away. We had always dreamed of traveling the country, and we knew Jerry was always up for an adventure. So we quickly made plans to sell the business, our home, and nearly everything we owned.
I created our Live Work Dream blog initially as a marketing tool to promote the sale of our ideal live/work opportunity. In a matter of months we were training the new owner and waiting to hit the road in our new fifth wheel trailer. Although doctors told us Jerry had only a few months to live, we spent the next two years exploring the country together as a pack. From the Badlands to the Mississppi headwaters, from the Atlantic coast in Maine to the Gulf of Mexico, Jerry taught us to make the most out of life.
Along the way, we investigated potential business opportunities while searching for land where Jerry could spend his final days. Our furry zen master didn’t quite make it to see the Colorado mountain home we call Jerry’s Acres. But he inspired the business that turned out to be right under our noses the whole time. We continue to maintain the largest online community for three legged dogs from the road when we head south for the winter every year with our new three legged dog Wyatt.
I share this story not to brag, but rather to encourage anyone with a dream to follow it, and to offer hope for anyone facing adversity. Our bittersweet journey with Jerry is just one example of how to make lemonade. Hopefully the following ideas I learned as my life changed course ‚Äì for the better ‚Äì might help others who feel like they’re being buried alive in lemons.
How to Follow Your Dreams
Make a plan
Figure out what you want and determine the steps required to get it. Write down a detailed plan of attack with action items, budget considerations and deadlines. Make a dream board complete with pictures, news clippings and other items reminding you of your goal.
Forget about stuff
Stop focusing on money. Focus on your passion instead. By releasing your attachment to material possessions, you can more freely work toward the end instead of the means.
Think from the end
As personal growth expert and self help guru Dr. Wayne Dyer suggests, see yourself where you want to be. If you want something, envision yourself already having it. See it, breathe it, feel it. Above all, Believe it.
Stop “shoulding” on yourself
“I should be making more money.” “I should have what I want by now.” “I should have done things differently.” These are detrimental thoughts that will only keep you from reaching your goal. Instead, focus on your intention and reframe your thoughts to be more positive.
“When you realize there is nothing lacking the whole world belongs to you.” -Lao Tzu
Change your perception about stability
Don’t fall for the false security of societal norms, and pay no attention to those who may think you’re crazy. Realize you have the power within yourself to succeed at whatever you wish. When overwhelmed with thoughts of “what if” forget what and tell if to take a hike.
Never underestimate the power of coincidence
Coincidences are the universe telling you to pay attention. Ask yourself what they mean, and follow their lead. Example: When we decided to buy a trailer, we realized we would need a new truck. Within a week we were hit by a red light runner who totalled our small pickup. The time had clearly come to buy that Dodge Ram we’d been eyeing.
Get to know others who have done what you want to do. In addition to reading a few books that inspired us, we took our research a step further. We contacted and spent time with the author of one, a 70-year-old man who had recently completed his second solo trip around the world by motorcycle. His inspiration helped us believe in our adventure and our friendship continues today.
Don’t forget to smell the roses
Above all, be present. Be aware. Take the time away from chasing your dream to consider one of the most important lessons we learned from Jerry: that every day is a great day, no matter what life throws your way.
Jim Nelson and his wife Rene are freelance creatives and writers who blog about the lifestyle they have designed for themselves at LiveWorkDream.com. Jerry’s legacy lives on in the Tripawds three legged dog blogs and canine cancer discussion forums.