Start a management degree at American Public University.
By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management, American Public University
Every so often, I read articles about the “right” way to make a living. Some people are natural entrepreneurs and have many business ideas. Others prepare to go to work for someone else because they prefer to have stability of a job without the headaches of ownership.
Is there a right way to build a career? No, it depends on what your dream is.
All of us should aspire to be the best that we can be in our careers. Whatever path we decide to travel, there is going to be hard work involved.
While I respect people who choose the “traditional” approach, I admire people who do what they need to do to get to “their” top. They run a different race where the competition is themselves.
What do I mean by that? Until you can bring your “A game,” you can’t step into the ring.
That’s why I like shows like “The Voice,” “World of Dance,” “America’s Got Talent” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” All types of people come together, believing they are the best at what they do.
Many of them have also made sacrifices, taken chances and overcome obstacles for a shot at what could be the beginning of a sweet ending. Listening to people share their stories of what keeps them going can be an inspiration for the dreamer who hasn’t taken the plunge yet.
What Sustains Your Dream?
The first two words that come to mind when I think about what keeps believers going are “perseverance” and “hunger.” As I looked for evidence to support my opinion, I found some interesting writings on the subject:
Dream interpretation expert Tony Crisp notes that different people need different things. Sometimes our needs are mental, sometimes physical or emotional. When we feel our innermost desires start to slip away, our thirst and hunger may kick in to sustain us while we hold on for a breakthrough. Hunger helps us to keep believing that the obstacles can be overcome.
Motivational writer Christine Evangelou says that dreams are the lifeline of our existence. Without them, there is no real sense of purpose, vision and destiny. Your dreams are your aspiration to share who you are with the world. Our dreams are who we are at the most brave and courageous moments in our life.
If you are struggling with how to grab hold of your dream and not lose your grip, consider the following tips to refocus on what is important to your inner being:
1. Take 10 quiet minutes every day to ask, “Why do I want it?”
Every so often, we have to check in with ourselves to be clear about what motivates us. What motivates us today may not necessarily motivate us tomorrow. Times change. Make sure you are living in your present season.
2. Spend time with people who have what you want.
When I first heard this suggestion years ago, I didn’t really get it. Since I was younger, I was intimidated by people at the level that I desired to reach and I put them on a pedestal. However, as I started to live and write my own life’s history, I began to feel comfortable around people who lived the life that I wanted. They actually thought I belonged where they were. These “mentors” gave me hope to press on to the point that my dreams became my reality. Failure was not an option.
3. Burn the boats and go outside of your comfort zone.
Sometimes you have to put yourself in a position of no return. Get rid of your safety net. Everyone has a different comfort zone. You have to push past the safe zone to fight for the prize. You won’t reach your goals if you continually reach back for what is familiar.
4. Move your body.
I recently signed up with a personal trainer. The first day I worked out with him, I thought I would die, but he assured me that I was very much in the land of the living. However, as he promised, I improved with time. I recognized how pushing past inactivity was the best thing that I could do for my body. Somehow, I had become complacent and “still” during the past two years.
5. Make inaction incredibly painful.
One of my favorite sayings is “I am very averse to pain.” I do not have to learn for myself. I grasp the concept and experience of someone else’s pain. When you’re thinking about your dreams, what tends to kill them? Procrastination. You have to re-condition your mind. For example, put something in place that you have to pay into when you are inactive and procrastinating. What motivates you to move toward your dream? What are the obstacles that prevent you from advancing?
If you want to “make it to the finish line,” you have to prepare yourself for the journey. Preparation for your dream includes more than the actual race. In addition to being physically ready, one has to be mentally alert and that requires taking care of the body, mind and spirit. Push past the pain! If you want different things, you have to do things differently.
About the Author
Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.
Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and influential leader, manifesting people skills, a methodical approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.
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