Some days I wake up ready to take on the world.

By the end of the night, I can’t wait to crawl into bed.

I’m sure you’ve felt this way. Or maybe your cycle is flipped and the nighttime is most inspiring. Either way, something during the in-between hours causes a massive energy shift where we lose motivation to fulfill our dreams.

For a while I’ve been operating under the assumption that if you want something enough, you’ll automatically work hard to get it. That is, if you’re not working hard toward achieving your dream, it’s really not your dream to begin with.

I’ve come to find out that this just isn’t true.

Personal determination to succeed exists independent of our dreams. But if there’s no catalyst that inspires and energizes us — no motivation — all we are is an unused yoga mat rolled out on the floor.

Lack of motivation or action toward completing your dream doesn’t mean it’s not real or that you don’t want it. It’s that you haven’t figured out how to turn the wanting into doing.

And maybe you haven’t figured out what it is that you really, really want.

The top 5 regrets of the dying

What do you want more than anything else in this world? If you can’t think of a specific dream right now, it’s likely hidden in one of these five things you’ll wish you did by the time you die.

This list comes from The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse.

  1. I wish that I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish that I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish that I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

No surprise here: Coming in at #1 is living your dream.

Even feeling like there’s more to life than [insert your current situation] is a powerful dream unto itself. In movies and books, our culture immortalizes people who have overcome all odds and achieved — what appears to us as — their dream-like lives.

So why aren’t more of us living our dreams every day?

Many of us don’t live our dreams because the type of dream we’ve chosen is holding us back. (click to tweet this)

3 types of dreams (is one holding you back?)

To me, there are three main kinds of dreams:

  1. Doable dreams pertaining to our passions that we achieve through motivation
  2. Dreams that are generally shared by 100% of people and achieved by only 1% (e.g. winning the lottery)
  3. Dreams that we don’t think we deserve

I’m most interested in the first type because these unrealized, doable dreams have the best shot at happening sooner than later.

The night I was thinking about this, my boyfriend shared insight from his vocal coach. Any type of art (such as music) fits into three categories:

  • Authentic
  • Manufactured
  • Uncertain

The majority of art that’s produced is in the third category: uncertain. These people aren’t successful. They either lack the talent or drive, and aren’t known yet because they’re not fully comfortable with their work.

Manufactured art is actually better than uncertain, because while it may be formulaic, at least it sells. Think catchy pop songs. “Hey, I just met you / and this is crazy / but here’s my blog post / share it, maybe?” (Click here to get the reference. Also, I want her bangs.)

The trick is to create authentic art that’s connected to one’s purpose and provides a good living.

Here’s how this ties into dreams:

  • Doable dreams = Authentic
  • Dreams shared by the collective = Manufactured
  • Dreams we don’t think we deserve = Uncertain

So while your parents and teachers may have told you to “dream big!” I think it’s better advice to “dream authentic.”

If you could make even one authentic dream come true, how would that change your life?

5 motivations to live your dream

So, the million dollar question: How do you get and stay motivated to live your authentic dream?

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “It takes 10 years and 10,000 hours to become an expert,” coined by Dr. Anders Ericsson. Research has found that the longer someone is in a career (job, hobby, a set path, etc.), the less their intelligence and skills matter. What matters most in order to be successful is motivation.

This is great news because 1. I can’t wait 10 years, and 2. We don’t need anything special to pursue our dreams other than a dedication to motivation. Seriously!

I’m all about lists, so here are my top five motivation generators.

1. Know that authentic dreams aren’t miracles.

Dreams manifest during the reality of everyday experience, and few occur by any other means than your actions. Even a person who wins the lotto does so by consistently buying a piece of paper in a convenient or grocery store. Dreams can be hard work, but at least we know they’re probable.

2. Get connected with your true nature.

Ever feel the need to take a walk in order to clear your mind? It’s simple, but scientific. Deepak Chopra writes in Quantum Healing that “we need Nature to free up our nature.” Reconnect daily with sunlight, trees and earth (not concrete) under your feet.

3. Pledge to never regret.

Think about yourself at the end of your life reciting the top five regrets of the dying. Sucks, doesn’t it? You have the choice, right now, to never put yourself in that situation. The next time you stall out on your dream, think about the pain of it not coming true.

4. Find a champion.

My dream to make Happy Momentum a reality didn’t happen until I surrounded myself with people who believed in me. This is so important when you go after a dream. Find a friend, a family member or even a complete stranger to talk to, but here’s the kicker: They must be gung-ho about your dream. Find someone who sees your potential when you are blind to it.

5. Move your body.

Dreams may originate in the mind, but they need the body to make them happen. My favorite way to connect the two is on a yoga mat. Chair Pose, Utkatasana, is the epitome of motivation because if you don’t have it, chances are I’d you’d never voluntarily put yourself in this posture.

That’s how this “dream into reality” stuff works. You still have to put in the work even when you really don’t feel like it. Get motivated (and feel the happy thigh burn) with Chair.

How to do Chair Pose, Utkatasana, without a littledog

Doing this pose with a jumping little dog who is STICKING OUT HER TONGUE provides excellent motivation. See above photo again for awesomeness. In the event you don’t have a jumping papillon, try the following:

  1. Bring your toes to touch, heels two inches apart. Glue your knees together.
  2. Rock your weight on your heels and bring your hands together at the heart.
  3. Take a deep inhale and as you exhale sit down into an imaginary chair. Keep your chest lifted.
  4. On your next exhale, lift and spread the toes and move your tailbone back and down to smooth out any curve in your low back.
  5. Squeeze your inner thighs together and deepen your seat on the exhales. As you inhale, gently press the palms together to broaden the chest and shoulders.
  6. Arm variation: If it’s comfortable for your shoulders, raise your arms overhead, biceps alongside your ears and palms facing one another. Relax your shoulders down and extend through the fingertips as you descend the tailbone.

Do you have a hard time getting and staying motivated to live your dreams? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments.