I have the honor to work with a lot of young people. Late teenagers and early twenty-somethings often find their way to my spirituality blog, and I am always happy to get a chance to influence them. There are so many ways that as we do not mature as we grow up in this culture. We do not grow wise. In general, we grow up dumb.
What is growing up dumb? It is not knowing ourselves. It is not questioning the structures and beliefs around us and within us. It is accepting that our lives have to look a certain way to live in “the real world” rather than following what we know is true for us.
And because society has a powerful influence over us, many people by their late twenties and early thirties have given up their dreams. They’ve believed what others have told them. Those things are statements like: “Your dreams aren’t practical;” You should just get a job;” “You should get married, settle down, and have kids;” and so on. The people saying these things were taught these beliefs, and they blindly accepted them. Now, they pass on these infectious illusions to you without even realizing what they are passing on. These ideas are the plague of beliefs, and they have and continue to decimate the lives, loves, hopes, and dreams of millions.
So, it is my hope that if you are in your late teens or early twenties (or if you are ready for a fresh start, and you can start over at any time of your life) that this spiritual blog post can help you step into a life you love.
A lot of the tips I’m offering today will be very typical to a lot of self-help books and websites, but this first one is not. That’s why it is also the most important. A spiritual practice can be a lot of things. It can include chanting, meditation, yoga, prayer, going to church, reading spiritual texts, listening to spiritual talks, working directly with a spiritual teacher, and more. What matters is that these practices feel true to you and that they guide you inwards to know yourself.
In order to know what is true for you, it is important to practice listening to your intuition. Your intuition will guide to the right practices, and through those practices, it gets easier to hear and refine your intuition. It’s a positive cycle that leads you to greater and greater self-knowledge. This knowing of yourself is key because that’s what will help you to grow and mature rather than to get caught up listening to what some other fool has to tell you. Sure, some of us fools out here have a thing or two to offer that is useful, but only through being open to your intuition can you discern what is foolishness and what is wisdom and then apply it to your life.
Finally, a spiritual practice lasts a lifetime, and it can help you in an infinite number of ways. If you need to some help getting started on building one, please read this blog post:
2. Dream Big
There’s no need to hold back. Dream big. Find out what “big” even is. There are so many ways that we accept certain things as “big” and others as “small,” and these definitions can hinder you from achieving what matters most to you. For instance, having a family may be an honest dream for you. While most of society tells you to do this as well as biological urges towards sex, this can be a real dream for many people. Plus, these days society doesn’t tend to measure having a family as a “big” deal, but any parent will tell you that raising a family is a huge endeavor. That may be a big enough dream for you, and that’s perfect. Also, rather than dreaming of a “perfect” family, see if you can journey inwards to feel what really matters in raising children and managing household for you.
Clearly there are other dreams too. You can dream about being an astronaut (I think tons of us did this as children). You can dream about starting a social movement to bring organic food to low-income communities. You can dream about being a spiritual healer. You can dream about being the leader of your community, region, or country. You can dream about finding a lifetime romantic partner. There is no end to the dreams, but please think of a dream as the starting point, not the end goal.
3. Define Your Success
The definitions for success today are particularly shallow. People often look at success as doing what society tells you to do. That’s why the above comment about having a family can actually be a tricky one. With so many people telling you that you should want something, it can be difficult to discern what you actually want. Once again, this is why your spiritual practice is crucial to help find the truth for you.
Additionally, fame and making lots of money are common ways people define and measure success. Generally, most of you don’t need that much money to live a healthy life, and many more of you really don’t want fame. Having lots of people talking about you and directing all kinds of weird energies at you are difficult things. Only those of you who truly are at peace in yourself will enjoy any kind of wide renown. More importantly, you should define your own success. See what you actually want to achieve. How much of your life will this dream encompass? Taking ownership of your success and the definition of that success is a deeply empowering thing. Other people will continue to apply their own definitions to you and whatever you do. By being at peace with your own understanding of success, you will find so much more happiness in your journey through life.
4. Be Practical
Because a lot of what society considers to be practical and rational is actually fear-based thinking, this tip is actually a lot harder than it seems. As you discover more of yourself and your truth, you’ll understand more about what you can and can’t do. This naturally leads you towards refining your ideas about what is important and what you want to do with your life. This makes it easier to see where your life is growing and flowing as compared to where things may be stuck and need your attention. This inherently makes it easier to know what is practical and realistic, what you need to do and the support that you require.
If you are doing lots of inner healing, then that is your path to living your dreams. Even if its a dream about running a business that supports holistic health practitioners and you haven’t done a thing in setting up the business, your healing is actually the practical approach towards starting that business with clarity and love. In this way, practicality may sometimes seem like a round-about loop. I encourage you to trust that deeper Divine intelligence in you is taking you on the best course for you.
Additionally, taking business classes, money management courses, and other such things can be extremely useful if your dream involves running a business. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, so take advantage of resources that are available to you. Combining practicality with intuition can forge amazing new things in this world and within you. There is never a reason to demonize any part of life or any resource you may have (For instance if you think “business” is evil or something like that). That will only limit your growth, and the above belief comes from a limited understanding of life.
5. Don’t Limit Yourself and Push Your Limits
Dreaming big often encourages you to go past your limits, and it may help to journal about your limitations. Money, time, and so forth are the usual excuses. I want to emphasize that money is another practical element of this world, but it doesn’t have to be a limitation. There are all kinds of ways that you can bring money into your life to fuel your dreams. For instance, a lot of people have to learn how to get comfortable fundraising and asking for donations–I know I did. That pushed my limits, and because I pushed those limits, I am a full-time spiritual teacher. That’s what I mean when I say to push your limits.
Obviously, there are all kind of limitations to challenge, but on the spiritual path, we generally want to look at the beliefs that limit us first. There’s so much inner growth to be had when you find and face those limitations. Most of those beliefs are fears, and as you do your inner work, you’re likely to find out that most of your fears are completely wrong. When you work through a fear, you think is possible naturally expands. This leads to changing how you see success and how you view your dreams. A natural maturing arises in you from this spiritual work, and that tends to embolden people to face more inner difficulty and further push their limits.
6. Enjoy the Process
If you don’t enjoy the process, don’t do it. This isn’t an encouragement to take the easy way out. Any of you who read this blog regularly know that I am not in any way suggesting that. Facing fears can be difficult. Facing the fears that lead other people to denounce, obstruct, or otherwise not help you isn’t fun. But when you follow something that matters to who you really are, all of that is pittance compared to the joy of doing what feels true. You see, following your heart and doing things that feel true to you are enlivening. You feel alive. Whether things are easy or difficult in the process of following and manifesting your dreams, you feel this aliveness, and that’s the greatest reward you can give yourself. And only you can give you that reward.
7. Be Diligent
Some of your dreams will take a lot of work. Be prepared to not see many worldly results for awhile, especially depending on the dream and who you are becoming. Once again, I can only emphasize even more that the inner-worldly results are far more important. That joy you feel in the process of whatever you are pursuing is the real gold. Truly, the greatest gift is to be at peace with yourself and things as they are. That is the most fertile ground to grow any project or dream. Be here now is the motto that many of you have heard. But that is not a dormant place. You’re not just lying around in a hammock all day. A lot of great work can arise in this present moment clarity. It is so easy to see what needs to be done and when to do it. It is also easier to know when to rest.
I can’t emphasize enough that resting is also part of diligence. No one works all the time, and there’s no need to get some end result today. Trying to harvest too soon is the surest way to wreck a good crop.
8. Be Patient
On that last note, patience is key. That is another way that you can grow up smart. These days it seems like our children, youth, and young adults are being demanded to perform faster and at higher standards than ever before. Our society regularly talks about billionaires in their twenties. Good grief. No one needs that much money much less needs to get that much by their twenties. But with all this urgency, it’s easy to not be patient with whatever project or dream in which you’re engaged. It’s easy to not be patient with your own growth.
Inner growth–which is the key to all of this–takes time. Paradoxically, the awakened state is timeless. You can let go and touch that space right now. You are already touching it. Sometimes, that space starts to move you on its own, and this is what I consider to be a spiritual awakening. But since that doesn’t happen often, I simply encourage you to diligently do your inner work. At each level of clarity you gain within yourself about who you really are, the clearer everything and everyone around you becomes.
9. Let Your Dreams Mature
Following the process and doing your inner work will help you to mature. As you become more wise about yourself and life, your dreams may shift and change. Let them. Holding onto a goal does not serve you. You can put forth lots of energy and effort, but when the river of life shifts, follow it. It may not look like it is going in the direction that you thought it should go, but trust it anyway. Sometimes it takes you where you intended to go after all. Other times, it shows you something more true to you that you would not have thought of, and you would have missed this opportunity had you been holding on too tight to the original dream.
By following this path of maturation, you may become more wise than a lot of people in your life. You may be wiser than people far older than you. That is part of growing up smart and living your dreams. Most other people do not do this, and I can’t emphasize enough that this is why trusting yourself is so important. Usually people come around and congratulate you when they see worldly results that they understand. At last you have a successful book, so everyone tells you what a great job you did. But how many of them were around when you were gutting it out through your deep inner work? True friendships are often revealed in this path of maturation, and those relationships are often key to helping refine your dreams. Talking to others who are sincere in their own inner work or who realized their dreams can also help you to mature your dreams and figure out the right next steps.
10. Embrace Failure
Because of the stigma against failure, embracing failure may be one of the hardest and most important lessons of maturing and living your dreams. Most business and new ventures fail. A Forbes article states, “According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months.” Thus, you must shed any fear of failure. When things don’t work out, there’s space to learn and grow once more. Your spiritual practice can help you to learn about yourself and other limitations that may have inhibited your succeeding in the external world. Most of all, there is nothing to be upset about. Failure is a part of life.
There are many other things we can add to that failure list including relationships. But perhaps, we need to also shift our dialogue around this. Perhaps we should say that things end instead. Nothing lasts forever. This is another spiritual truth to understand. Additionally, all of human life is change. So whatever your dream is, the physical reality of it will be birthed, exist for awhile, and end. In this way, there is actually no failure. The real failure is not trying.
Forging a Life of Your Own
In many respects, I am encouraging you to forge a life of your own, not what society and your biology tell you to be and do. Find out what is true for you and go after it. Remember that it is okay to change, and learn to trust your intuition. There are many things that exist in the unseen world that only your intuitive eyes can see. There will be failures and false-starts, but if you are truly following the path of your soul, these things don’t matter. Because you feel alive in this process, and no one can take that from you even if everything else turns to ash.