When we have a dream, goal or desire, we usually also have a vision or clear picture of what that all looks like. We know the size, the shape, the color, the [insert whatever detail is relevant for your dream/desire].
The problem is, we often get so caught up in the vision or the details of how we think it should look when we achieve our dream/goal/desire, that we may not even realize we don’t actually want what we thought we wanted.
For example, last year was the happiest year of my life so far. I had the most amazing, incredible, fantastic year. All the amazing things I experienced last year (like having my screenplay place as a Semi-Finalist in a prominent script contest!) were things I asked for and worked toward and intended.
But when I finally received so many of the things I’d been asking for, the outside picture looked a hell of a lot different than how I imagined it.
I definitely didn’t see myself being divorced at age 35 and living in my dad’s basement, while simultaneously having the happiest year of my life. That definitely wasn’t the vision I had for how my life would be when I was at my happiest.
And yet that’s how it played out.
Here’s an even better example: when I was 11 years old, I watched the Nicholas Sparks movie and read the book, Message In A Bottle, and I decided right then and there I was going to be a novelist and turn my books into movies.
That was my dream for my entire life.
Well, I grew up and began taking action on that dream. I wrote a few novels and even published one of them. I was proud of myself for working so damn hard for so many years.
But, oh god, I felt awful. After the elation from launching my debut novel wore off, I had zero desire to do it all over again.
I Resisted it like a mofo. I hated sitting down to work on my novel. Once I did the writing I felt a little better and was proud of myself for doing the work, but it still didn’t feel all that great.
Steven Pressfield talks about how we often have Resistance to doing our creative work, so I figured the Resistance and procrastination I had for writing novels was a symptom of that.
I continued to force myself to write more novels. I started a couple of drafts, but I couldn’t bring myself to finish or even work on them very often.
I thought there was something wrong with me. How was I ever going to make my dream of seeing my stories on the big screen if I didn’t write more novels?
In my vision for my writing career, I only ever saw myself as being a novelist, like Nicholas Sparks and the other authors I admire.
And after years of studying and practicing the art of storytelling, I was pretty damn good at it. I should’ve been writing and publishing several novels a year. I had stories coming out of my ears (and still do).
But writing novels didn’t at all feel good to me.
It was always a struggle to make myself sit down and do the work. I made myself believe that it was supposed to be that way.
Until one day in early 2018, I had a thought: my ultimate goal is to see my stories made into movies, but writing a novel is not the only way to make that happen. I could also write a screenplay.
This was one of the first times I gave serious thought to writing a screenplay. I always figured I’d write novels and they would be adapted into screenplays by whatever studio bought the rights. I never thought about the fact that I could be the one who wrote the screenplay.
I decided I would write my first screenplay. I figured the easiest way would be to write the screenplay version of one of the unpublished novels I’d already written. So I made a plan for how to adapt it into a script and I sat down to write it.
Not long after that, I got inspired to write another screenplay. This time I decided to enter it in a contest I heard about. That script ended up placing as a Semi-Finalist in the contest.
I wrote another script. I wrote another. I had several in development.
All of this within a 12-month period (it took me 13 years to finally write my first novel).
The craziest part was, I had very little Resistance to writing a screenplay. I found it fun and I actually loved the process. It was a challenge, but the storyteller in me enjoyed figuring it all out, like putting a puzzle together.
And then I had another thought: why have I been forcing myself to slog through Resistance and deal with procrastination to write a novel when I have low Resistance and a lot less procrastination when I write screenplays? Why not just write screenplays?
I feel like my writing career really took off once I decided to write screenplays instead.
I used to procrastinate and resist doing anything related to my novels or getting them out there in a bigger way, like finding an agent or self-publishing more of them. But with my screenplays, I’m actively looking for ways to get them out there and into the hands of someone who can do something with them.
I enter several contests every year. I write new scripts every year. I send my scripts out to industry executives to get feedback and help me improve and make them better.
Back when I was 11-years-old deciding I was going to grow up and be a novelist whose stories get turned into movies, I had a vision for what that all looked like. Well, it definitely didn’t look like me writing screenplays, entering script contests or pitching my stories to industry executives.
But this FEELS like how my writing career is supposed to be. I feel like a screenwriter. I feel like that’s who I really am as a storyteller. I mean, I also never saw myself writing nonfiction books (growing up nonfiction books bored me), but that’s a huge part of my writing career today and it continues to grow because I keep having amazing downloads for books I must write.
This is why it’s a bad idea to get caught up in the specifics or in the vision of what you think your dream/goal/desire should look like.
If I continued to tell myself I had to stick to my vision of being a novelist because that was how I always saw my writing career unfolding, I wouldn’t be where I already am in my screenwriting career. I wouldn’t have found something that I enjoy so much that makes me feel so fulfilled and happy and like I’m doing what I’m meant to.
And that’s why the way something FEELS is always the most important part.
If something always feels shitty to you, there’s a reason for it. So rather than forcing yourself to continue down that path, why not instead ask yourself:
1. Do I feel how I want to feel in this area of my life?
2. Is there something else I could do instead that will result in the same outcome but would feel a whole lot better to me?
For me, it was an easy decision to switch from writing novels to writing screenplays. It felt better to me, I had more ease and eagerness, there was way less resistance and procrastination, and, best of all, it will still give me the ultimate outcome I desire: seeing my stories turned into movies.
When you decide, shift or pivot based on how something feels, you give yourself the opportunity to experience things you never imagined, do things you never thought you’d do and make every area of your life feel good.
And feeling good is the point and the path. 🔥
Dream life or bust,