Your New Year’s Resolution: Dare to Do One Thing

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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New Year, Lady Behind Number One

In my last three posts, Personal Development: How to Plan to Change Your Life This Year; Warning: Perfectionism Kills Starting a Blog and Your Dreams; and Reclaiming Wonder: The First Step to Changing Your Life, I outlined the first steps to starting your dream.

Since today marks the beginning of the new year, you are probably asking yourself when do I start? Or, how do I know this dream is right for me?

You begin with being certain that what you are about to do is something that brings you joy. If you think about the 5 Stages of Change, this is your pre-contemplation stage, the time spent looking at what it is that you want.

Will what you specifically want bring you joy?

I am not talking about the “if I make a lot of money at it then money will make me happy” kind of nebulous, general joy. I am talking about the kind of joy that comes from loving something specific — so specific that you will be motivated to get up off the couch this year and do what you need to do to make it come true.

Joy is a great motivator when directed at something specific.

In order to move forward on your dream, the dream needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (it must have a starting point and ending point). Without these parameters you will float along never really accomplishing anything on your dream.

Your dream will keep changing like you change your clothes, but nothing will ever quite happen that takes you to the finish line where you turn around and say, “My greatest dream has come true.”

You have to love your specific dream so much that you will walk through fire to achieve it. You have to love to do one thing so much that you won’t give up on it when you are feeling bored, fall in love, have children, buy a house, or are just too tired.

You have to know in your heart that you will stick to your one thing until the very end.

For example, if you dream of being a top blogger, you have to sit down and ask yourself what one thing you would love to write about over, and over, and over again (did I say over and over?). You must be absolutely passionate about your subject — maybe even friends have been telling you for years that you should be writing about this particular subject — in order for you to stick with it.

Because to be famous at blogging you have to be an expert at one thing, and being an expert requires that you do the same thing over and over so that you get better and better until you are the expert people want to turn to for help. Whether the expert you become is an expert at telling stories about your family, an expert at taking photographs, an expert at product launches, an expert at traveling near your home, or an expert at frugal living — you must write about that one subject over and over.

Think of it as loving your subject so much that you simply must share it until the world is sick of it.

But before you run out and buy that domain name and do all the work involved in creating a top blog, you have to honestly ask yourself if you will post articles on the same subject at least three times a week for the next four (or more) years. Can you show up and write about the same subject over and over for years on end until the world takes notice?

These are the difficult questions we must ask ourselves before we step through the dream door to start our journey.

Can you do this thing you think you want day in and day out until you think you can’t do it one more day … and then do it one more day?

You have to love your dream so much that you will love it even when you hate it. And even when you hate it, you can’t stop doing it, and if you stop doing it then you miss it and have to start doing it again even though you are sick of it.

Are you ready for this?

Best-selling author and social psychologist, Malcolm Gladwell was one of the best middle distance runners in Canada when he was a teenager. He often tells the story of the moment when he knew he was not going to go to the Olympics like most thought he would.

He went running with two friends who would ultimately go on to compete in the Olympics and at the end of the grueling long-distance run, the two friends suggested that they continue running by going up this particular hill backwards. They had already run (I think — it was a very long distance) 20 miles. Malcolm didn’t want to continue, and thus, chose not to. The two friends went on to run up the hill without him and on to compete in the Olympics.

Malcolm did not go to the Olympics and instead turned his attention to social psychology and writing. What he understood about his choice at the hill is that those two friends wanted the Olympics more than he did. He saw that they were more motivated runners because they still wanted to run up that hill.  He didn’t.  To run in the Olympics was their singular dream, whereas Malcolm had other dreams he liked better that gave him more joy — like writing.

“Really what we mean … when we say that someone is ‘naturally gifted’ is that they practice a lot, that they want to practice a lot, that they like to practice a lot.” ~Malcolm Gladwell

You have to love your dream enough to practice a lot and stick with it. Just think what would have happened if Malcolm’s two friends decided that they loved running, then decided they loved bicycling, then decided they loved swimming, and then decided to love mountain climbing. They may have been physically fit, but they never would have competed in the Olympics.

You have to find the ONE thing you love — the ONE thing you can’t stop talking about — the ONE thing that you can’t stop thinking about.  This is where your singular dream lies.

If you aren’t sure about your one thing and don’t know what to do, I’ll send you a free copy of my e-workbook, Find Your Dream to help you get in touch with what it is you would really love doing. Just leave me a comment and let me know.

When you sit down to complete your New Year’s resolutions this week, whittle your list down to just one thing.  Then promise yourself that you are going to do that one thing until you have achieved success.

And that’s the resolution I’m betting will bring you joy.


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  • Jeff

    Have you heard of the “One Thing To-Do List”? It’s based around the idea of asking yourself, “What one thing will I do today?” The idea is to get out a blank sheet of paper and a pen and write “I will do one thing today!” in big letters across the page. Then list your one thing at the bottom. Tape this to your computer or whatever it is that you look at all day. This is especially effective for those things you don’t feel like doing or keep putting off. Marc and Angel Hack Life wrote a great post about this concept here: It really works for me!

  • Ha! Thanks Remy, you bring up a great question, except you are the only one who knows that answer.

    You have to look at what photography you get lost in. You seem to have a real knack for outdoor photography, and sports shots. What happens while you are out taking those photos? Is there one you enjoy more? Do you feel inspired and energized when taking certain photographs over others? Are there photography experiences that seem draining?

    Is there a way for your photography to be an extension of something you love? I am thinking about how much Trey Ratcliff loves travel, so his images are his passion shooting his passion. Do you love being at sporting events? Do you love being outside? Is there a time of day that you love being outside more than any other time?

    Do you love the excitement of the city, or the calmness of nature? Are you more into textures, or how the light shines on something? These are are questions you should be asking yourself to funnel your dream down to that one thing that gives you joy … so it is your passion shooting your passion.

    I’m most curious which photo shoots give you the most energy.


  • Ok – tell me what my one thing is. xo R