I love this story about Lady Gaga.
Long before she was famous, the pop icon would repeat the following affirmation to herself: “Music is my life. The fame is inside me. I’m going to make a number-one record with number-one hits,” she shared in an interview with Muse back in 2009.
“And it’s not yet,” she said. “It’s a lie. You’re saying a lie over and over again. And then one day, the lie is true.”
What else is true is that Lady Gaga is an Academy Award winner, and a multi-Grammy award winner, and has a multitude of other accolades to her name.
How can you reach your own highest potential? It takes work and commitment—but it’s also not as hard as you think.
Do these seven things daily to set yourself up for success—and watch the domino effect of events unfold to your advantage.
1) Know what it is that you want and hold it at the forefront of your mind
We tend to put off going after our dreams because we think it isn’t the right time. Or we even put off dreaming altogether because we see it as a luxury that we can’t afford to think about. What’s the point, we automatically assume, it’s not like it has a chance of happening or anything.
“When times are tough, we stop ourselves from dreaming because we feel limited by external factors, like money or vacation days,” says Allaya Cooks-Campbell from BetterUp.
But we shouldn’t let our circumstances stop us. Let the seed of your dreams take root and see where it takes you. Things—whether it’s money, conditions, or the right people—will have a way of lining up.
One of my favorite sayings is: “When you set an intention, the whole Universe conspires to bring it to you.”
Keep the intention at the forefront of your mind. Meditate on it every day. Make it a practice.
If you feel that you have no clue what you want, ask yourself what you would do if there were no limits, says Cooks-Campbell.
Some more questions to contemplate?
- What would I rather be doing than what I’m doing now?
- How do I want to spend my time, personally and professionally?
- Who do I want to spend my time with?
- Am I in the right location to do what I want to do?
- What am I willing to sacrifice to achieve my goal?
- What does “the good life” look like to me?
Think about what you want every day, meditate on it, and make it a focus.
And don’t be afraid to dream big.
2) Speak it into existence daily
Words carry weight and words have power. As a journalist, I know this to be true. That’s why I’m always careful to phrase my questions as best I can to make them potent and thought-provoking while being respectful.
Similarly, those I interview always take their time to respond to my questions because they want their answers to be thoughtful—they know that their words will live on.
Speaking our dreams into existence brings them outside of us as a kind of declaration. So if we’re complaining to our friends that nothing good ever happens to us, well then guess what? That will be your reality.
You’re telling your brain that you want more of this and it will deliver exactly what you’re asking for—whether you intended it or not.
That’s why it’s essential to speak positively and optimistically about the things you want, says Carol Alwill, host of the Style Your Mind podcast.
“That means speaking positively and optimistically about the things we want, and talking about them with certainty that they will happen,” she says. “Of course, we must do the work, but the way we speak about our dreams is crucial to their success.”
3) “Write it down, make it happen”
I’ve mentioned this in one or two other blogs, but Write It Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Klauser was one of the books that made me take the leap into journalism.
There are so many amazing little nuggets in this book. But the main idea is to write down your desires daily (ideally every morning) because this ritual keeps the desire active rather than laying dormant somewhere in the back of your mind.
Keep a journal for this purpose. Write down your desire as if you already have it. Many self-help coaches advise against writing the desire in the future because this keeps it there (for example, “I will have a million dollars in my savings account within the next two years”).
They say that writing it down as if it has already happened tricks your subconscious mind into thinking that the dream is already in your 3D.
Although I understand the reasoning, I don’t quite agree with this. Writing something down as if it has already happened can trigger negative emotions in many people because all it does is that it reminds them of the fact that that is not their reality at present. For example, writing down “I am at my ideal weight” can just remind someone that they’re actually not at their ideal weight and maybe far from it.
I think it’s okay to write down the desire in the future because it can help you identify with the knowledge that this thing will happen and that it’s on its way to you and that you’re working towards it.
The point is to write it down consistently everyday, and then in the words of Henriette Klauser: make it happen.
4) Take steps—no matter how small—each and every day
If there’s one habit that’s vital to reaching your potential, it’s this one.
In the beginning, it’s okay to take baby steps towards your goal. Maybe that means doing some research, or sending out an email, for example.
Let’s say your dream is to become a fashion designer. Then make it a goal to have one complete sketch of a dress or design a week. Learn to sew and sew well. Perfect your craft as best as you can.
Eventually when you have ten or so completed outfits, start reaching out to designers to present your portfolio. Post to Instagram to get exposure. Tag some designers to get attention. And then keep at it.
Realizing a dream is the result of a million (or more) little and big steps that will keep propelling you to the next course of action.
5) Take time management seriously
Many people work on their dreams while they’re in a full-time job that pays the bills. I recently saw a story on Instagram relating to a woman who wrote a book during her lunch hour everyday.
People who are serious about their dreams find the time to pursue their dreams no matter how busy their lives are. This could mean getting up an hour early or forgoing a Netflix night binge session.
Some days things will come up where you can’t work on your passion, and that’s okay! That’s life. As long as the overall work and commitment is there, you’re doing great. Maybe it means making adjustments such as working towards your goal for double the amount of time the next day.
Time management is imperative to master if you want to reach your potential. It means giving up and sacrificing some things (not everything!) too.
You’ll instinctively know what needs to change.
6) Have a support system
We all need the support of loved ones when pursuing a dream—whether it’s a parent, partner, or friend.
“Sometimes the support is spontaneous, but at other times you may have to enlist it,” says the team at DreamBook.
Without the enthusiastic support of those who are closest to you, the journey to your goals can become very difficult—maybe even compelling you to give up altogether.
“You are fighting your own internal doubts while contending with their opposition. Sometimes the opposition is subtle—the deafening silence, the cold shrug—and sometimes it is clearly articulated. ‘I will not give you money for that.’ or ‘Who will watch the kids while you attend evening classes?’ or ‘I don’t think you should go. It’s not safe.’”
If you’re not getting automatic support, reach out for it. This could mean having a grandparent or friend watch the kids while you attend a night class once a week if you’re a single parent, for example.
If it’s moreso emotional support that you need, call a friend or a sibling or parent once a week and tell them about your progress that week.
If that’s difficult, then find your tribe on social media. Follow accounts, particularly on ‘X’ (formerly Twitter) and even Instagram of the people who are already doing what you want to do. They will always be tweeting about their own experiences.
Reach out to them directly if you have a question about a particular leg of the journey.
7) Self-care is essential everyday, too
Some words of advice: don’t get so consumed with pursuing your dream that you forget to look after the most important person in the dream—you.
Reward yourself in little ways like having a long soak in the tub or going out with a friend for coffee—or taking yourself.
Reading before bed or on Sundays is a great way to free your mind. Take walks as a way to reflect on your progress as well as give your body a daily dose of exercise.
And of course, nourish your body with healthy foods so that you are giving yourself the right fuel and stamina.
Consistent self-care will motivate and energize you to keep going for it again and again.