The Secret To Making Things Happen

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Steph Castelein looking out along the ridge at Mesa Arch in the Canyonlands.

*DISCLAIMER: Links included in this blog post might be affiliate links. If you make a purchase with the links I provide, I may receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. Thanks!

I hear it often. When people learn I left my job to travel they usually say something like “Oh I wish I could do that.” or “I want to travel more but I just can’t.” or “You’re so lucky, I could never do that.”

And every time, I want to stop them and say you can do it! It’s possible! You can do almost anything as long as you know the secret.

A good writer probably reveals the secret at the end, but I’m going to tell you it right now. Ready?

The big secret: There’s a difference between really wanting something and really, really wanting something.

I really want a lot of different things in my life.

I really want to travel and learn a new language and read a minimum of 12 books a year and learn a new skill and take dance lessons and meet new friends and become involved in the community. And too often I find excuses for not doing them. I just really want them, I don’t really, really want them.

When you really want something, it’s a wish. When you really, really want something, you’re willing to sacrifice and change and actually do what it takes to make that thing happen.

Let me share my favorite example with you.

Really Wanting To Run The Boston Marathon

I consider myself pretty athletic. I played college basketball and have always been into sports.

And while I’m not a big runner, I figured it would be fun to do a marathon. And then I thought well heck, if I’m going to put myself through the pain of running a marathon, I might as well make it the mother of all marathons. And so I decided I really wanted to run in the Boston Marathon. Fun right?

So I started running…..ish. I ran a few times. here and there and quickly realized how much it was going to take to actually do this thing. The training and the running and the blisters and the number of shoes you go through AND, it turns out, you have to qualify for the Boston Marathon. What?! You don’t just get to sign up and you’re good to go?

My one Boston Marathon dream suddenly became a whole lot more work than I was thinking it would be and you can guess what happened next.

Basically nothing, nothing happened. I still haven’t participated in a marathon.

But here is another perspective.

I have a friend, Jenna. See Jenna wasn’t a big runner either. And like me, she really wanted to run in the Boston Marathon. But unlike me, she really really wanted to do it.

So Jenna trained. She ran. And she ran and she ran and she ran. She changed her diet, she got new shoes, she got blisters, and she went to bed early and got up even earlier….to run. She said no to friends, she sacrificed nights out, she limited her drinking, and then she ran and ran and ran some more. She ran like she wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon. And you know what, she did! Jenna qualified and ran in the freaking Boston Marathon. Because she didn’t just really want it, she really, really wanted it. She was willing to make sacrifices and change and do whatever it took to make her thing happen.

Yes! This gets me so fired up! You go Jenna!

I think what Jenna did is incredible. But I think the biggest difference between myself and her is that she really, really wanted it and I didn’t.

I wasn’t willing to sacrifice and train and change my ways like my girl Jenna was. That girl worked her little bum off. Me? I’m pretty happy with my daily lap around the neighborhood.

What Will You Make Happen?

For me, my Boston Marathon was traveling. It was the thing I really wanted most. It was the thing I thought about all the time. It was the one thing, when I looked at other people traveling, I wanted to do it too.

And so? I did it.

I can’t quite say the moment but I remember this shift happening where I went from really wanting to travel to really, really wanting to travel.

My mindset changed from this far off, ‘I’ll never be able to do that’ dream, to being open and willing to making sacrifices, changes, and taking steps to make it a reality.

Don’t be fooled, it wasn’t a snap of my fingers and I was off traveling the world, it took me 3 years. 3 whole years of shifting from really wanting to travel to really, really wanting to travel.

I got a part-time job in addition to my full-time job. I started saving my money. I started saying no to going out with friends. I quit watching TV and instead dove headfirst into reading travel blogs with different tips and suggestions. I looked into travel insurance and passports and transportation and hostels and how in the heck I was going to make it all work. I wasn’t just handed these cool opportunities to see the world. I made sacrifices and changes to make it happen.

And so, when people say I wish I could do that, I nod my head and say I’ve been there too. Because I have.

I know what it feels like to want to do these things but it feels like something is standing in your way.

Maybe you have debt. Or student loans. Or kids. Or a really good job. Or it’s scary. Or way too big of a change. Or really unknown. Or you’re not ready yet. Or about 101 other things that come up as reasons for not doing that thing.

But know this, nothing will change until you really, really want it to change. When you’re finally ready to sacrifice and change and do what it take to make that thing happen.

When you go from really wanting something to really, really wanting something.

That my friend is when things happen. That’s when you realize you can do just about anything if you really, really want to.

I know it because I’ve been there. And so has Jenna. And my friend Katie. And my sister Haley. And a lot of other people in my life. They really, really wanted something and they made it happen.

Take a look at that thing you want but haven’t quite taken the steps to do. That thing you’re always thinking about but seems so out of reach. What’s holding you back? What’s standing in your way? Do you really want it or do you really, really want it? Because I believe you can actually do it if you’re willing to sacrifice, change, and do what it takes to make it happen.

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