Start Now

"2014" by Alana Mokma (click to enlarge image & back arrow to return to blog)

Three years from now I will have written my first published book, inspired 1,000 people through my blog and spoken publicly to a crowd of 2,000 eager listeners. How do I know this? Because these are my goals.

In January of this past year, Josh and I hired Career & Life Coach, Kent Julian at liveitforward.com. I had no idea at that time how it would dramatically change my life.

We finished up our last session with Kent on August 10th. I remember feeling particularly discouraged and like a major loser that night, because I assumed that eight months after coaching I would have been off and running in my new career. “Is there something wrong with me?” I asked. I had three interviews during this eight month period – two with the same company – and thought for sure I had the job. Quick side note: I had only actually applied to two companies, so in reality, I was batting 100% with my hit/miss ratio. I was certain I had the perfect natural talents and corporate beliefs, not to mention a fiery passion for what this company represented. Then finally, almost four months after the initial interview, came the Rejection E-mail. Ugh. Seriously? How could this happen? Maybe this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.

During our meeting that night with Kent, I shared my frustration and expressed uncertainty in moving forward with this idea of finding the work I love. Kent responded with this question: “Alana, are you willing to do the work to get to your ideal vocation?” I thought for a second. Yeah, it is a no-brainer. “Well, yeah.”

Kent: “What if it takes two years to get to your ideal occupation?”
Me: “Well, two years is longer than what I was hoping for. I wanted to be there
now, but I can handle two years.”
Kent: “What if it takes three years?”
Me: “Three years? Hmm… okay. I really don’t want it to take three, but
if I can end up where I really want to be in three years, I guess that would be okay.”

We continued this conversation, 5, 10, 15 years. What if it takes fifteen years to get to my ideal vocation? Am I willing to do the work?

Holy crap. That’s a long time. Then came Kent’s response:

“Alana, fifteen years is coming no matter what, so why not work toward your ideal occupation? Why stop just because it will take too long to get to what you want?”

Ouch. He was right.

I am currently reading the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. At one point, she shares how she encourages her students to give themselves permission to be a beginner. “By being willing to be a bad artist, you have a chance to be an artist, and perhaps, over time, a very good one. When I make this point in teaching, I am met by instant, defensive hostility: ‘But do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to really play the piano/act/paint/write a decent play?’ ‘Yes… the same age you will be if you don’t. So let’s start.”

So here I am, working toward my goals. Who knows how long it will take to get to my dream occupation, maybe just a year, maybe seven years, but I have begun the first steps of setting goals and moving forward. Fifteen years is coming no matter what. Are you working toward your ideal life?

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22 thoughts on “Start Now

  1. Alana,

    So honored that you shared this story. Thank you!

    And I’m so proud of you. No matter how hard it is or how long it takes, you ARE going to make it.

    Kent Julian

    PS By the way, the fact that you were 2 for 2 in setting up interviews is an amazing stat. Most clients have to contact 30-40 companies and proactively pursue those companies in order to get 2-5 solid interviews. 2 for 2 says something special about you!

    • Thanks Kent! When we had that conversation in August, something definitely clicked for me… and like Ivan said, I don’t want to sit around DREAMING about what my life could be in fifteen years. I want to LIVE it.

    • Andy, thanks for your reply! This is crazy, but I have already began experiencing new opportunities and it has only been two weeks since I have REALLY put myself out there. I can’t wait to see what is to come!

      • looking forward to meeting Andy! I’m glad there is a Speak It Forward group on 48days.net. It has allowed me to connect with participants prior to the event. Now I feel like I will have some friends going into it. πŸ™‚

  2. OK, first, I can really tell that Kent and Justin Lukasavige talk frequently. Justin uses the same thought pattern in his show frequently. What if getting to your dream takes you 2, 5, or 10 years? Are you still willing to go after it? You better be. Or else you need to find a new dream that will light a fire in you that will last UNTIL you get THERE!

    Second, I want to play devil’s advocate for a second. Not really, but sort of. I am not a morbid person, but this thought has hit me REALLY hard lately. As a Christ Follower, the Bible tells me I am not even guaranteed TOMORROW, let alone 15 YEARS FROM NOW!

    I completely understand the thought pattern of you need to be so excited about your dream that it can carry you through until you get there, but looking so far down the road can DESTROY a sense of urgency. “I don’t need to do that today, I can do it tomorrow.” or “Do I really need to put in an extra hour of work on my dream tonight when my spouse is watching tv, or hanging with friends, or sleeping, or WHATEVER? I can just do it later.”

    I address this from a personal stand point mostly. Why? B/C I HAVE WANTED TO START MY OWN BUSINESS FOR 15 YEARS!!! LITERALLY! And what did I do in that time??? NOTHING! I thought. I planned. I did research. AND I TOOK NO CONCRETE ACTION TO MAKE IT HAPPEN!

    So I KNOW my dream is worth having for 15 years. B/c I’ve had it that long BEFORE I took concrete action. And the whole time I made a THOUSAND excuses why I could wait until tomorrow.

    So I PLEAD with you. DON’T COUNT ON TOMORROW. I’m 32 and I’ve already lost friends at an unexpectedly young age. It sucks. But it happens. What we do have is RIGHT NOW! THIS moment!

    So make the most of it. Take one SMALL step towards your dream. Whatever that is. And then later this evening or tomorrow, taking ONE MORE small step. Eventually, all your small steps will have taken you to where you want to be.

    ~Ivan

    • Ivan, I am glad you played the devil’s advocate, because that is the other side of the coin — who knows how long you or I will even be alive?

      Last night I opened my laptop to finish proofing this post and the first image that popped up on my home screen was an image of Steve Jobs with the caption “1955-2011.” That’s all it said. Yet it represented SO much. He led an amazing life. I have no idea how long I will be here, so I want to make my print NOW.

    • Three quick things, Ivan.

      First, I think that both Justin and I got the 2, 5, 10, 15 year analogy from Dan Miller. In fact, for me, it happened 6-7 years ago when I first started connecting with Dan and was going through a coaching program he offered. I believe it was Dan who asked me this question and when he got to 15 years, I said, “No way, I don’t think I’d pursue my dreams if it took 15 years to bring them to reality.” That’s when he dropped the bomb and, as Alana states, it was a wake up call for me. So, I’m not sure if Justin has heard me tell that story or if he heard it directly from Dan as I did (again, I think it was Dan…I’ve asked him about it several times and each time he says, “That sounds like something I’d say” πŸ™‚

      Second, love your heart and passion here, bro. Can’t wait to meet you next week.

      Third, no need to play devil’s advocate because the whole point of the 2, 5, 10, or 15 years analogy is to get busy NOW in pursuing your God-given dreams. The analogy isn’t about a “lack of urgency,” but instead it’s all about creating a sense of urgency. It’s about not giving up…that no matter how hard it might be or how long it takes, pursue what you were put on earth to do. It’s actually the live it forward message which is to figure out what you want said about you at your funeral (or, better yet, what you want said about you when you stand before God to give an accounting of your life) and then live in such as way as to make those things a reality. Hence…live it forward!

      I’ll wrap up by sharing another little saying I have. “Big is little and little is big.” If I want the big things in life to happen for me, then I need to do the little things day-in and day-out to bring those big things about. Big is little and little is big is about urgency and living each day on purpose.

      I look forward to connecting with you next week at the Speak It Forward Boot Camp. It’s going to be a great time!

      Kent

      • I LOVE IT, KENT! The making of community here. Commentors replying to each other! It makes me very happy for what Alana has going on.

        I agree with EVERYTHING you said. I especially like the “Big is little and little is big.” Nice!

        One of the things I have a tendency to do when I’m in a “group” situation, such as commenting on a blog, is addressing things that I think others might need to hear. So I’ll make comments that I think someone else might benefit from, or ask questions that I think someone else might want to know the answer to.

        I actually went down the rabbit whole I did b/c I have a client that I brought this 2, 5, 10 year idea up to and the person agrees the idea is worth the time it takes. But they also keep putting off what should be done today b/c they “know” they have “time” to get it done. I don’t want us deceiving ourselves that we have “time” (b/c I have seen someone do JUST THAT!). We have NOW!

        Soooo looking forward to the boot camp and meeting you and many others. It’s going to be GREAT!

        ~Ivan

      • You too, Ivan! And embrace NOW…that’s awesome. Live NOW so that your FORWARD becomes a reality.

        See you in a week!

      • Kent, I’m glad you brought up the reference to “what I want people to say about me at my funeral.” When you presented this analogy to Josh and I it opened my eyes. I think about it from time to time and actually in that moment consider and adjust my behavior/words I am saying to others.

  3. Great post Alana – I especially like the bit about being willing to start bad! So often we think we have to be good at something before we begin, and then we give up on the whole thing entirely. Keep believing and keep taking action. Baby steps can move mountains πŸ™‚

    • Ha. Guilty. I seem to go between the two extremes of thinking I have to have it perfectly planned out OR hardly thinking through anything and jumping into action.

      I love that phrase “baby steps can move mountains.”

      Thanks for your feedback Grace!

  4. It was a pleasure to meet you yesterday; when I read this post, I immediately thought of Beth’s story about the woman who wanted to build the 4 season room … and the question, “why do we postpone our joy?”

    I am looking forward to reading more and cheering you on your journey!
    Warmly,
    MJ

    • Marilyn, I really enjoyed meeting you this weekend as well! I can see why Terri speaks so highly of you. Even in the three hours we spent together, I got a glimpse of how you shine in life. I came home and talked about you with my husband! πŸ™‚ I look forward to following your journey as well.

  5. Alana,
    What an awesome post! I love it. We’re in such a “quick fix” society that sometimes when you look at something and you can’t target “success” within the month or the year, you move on to something else. Yet progressively working toward the life you want to live guarantees that you are at the very least improving your life daily, and quite possibly making your dreams into little realities every day. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Ashley, thanks for your comment! I am beginning to experience little realities on a daily basis. Right now, they may be as simple as someone shooting me an e-mail and saying “Hey! I read your post and it helped me to look at myself differently!” but I can soar on this type of feedback!

      I agree it is easy to just give up if I do not see results. I am working on pressing forward regardless whether there is immediate payoff or not. While I am moving forward, I’m also checking to make sure I’m going in the right direction… not sure if this is a good thing or not, but I don’t want to press on no matter what, only to find out if I had been aimed in a slightly different direction than where I wanted to end up.

  6. Alana, I applaud your willingness to risk, be vulnerable and push forward. Two favorite words…”not yet” and “temporary”…ok 3 words. Paste them somewhere to remind yourself that yr destination is coming, your miracle will happen. Your are adding to your toolbox along the way….whatever you do, dont give up before yr miracle arrives! Hugs!

    • “Temporary” is a perfect word for me right now. I am in a “temporary” work place. I will not be there forever. I’ll hold on to that. πŸ™‚

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