dreams

Are You Putting Your Dreams on Hold?

Palliative care nurse Bonnie Ware asked people at the end of their life their #1 regret. Know what it was?

“I wish I’d had the COURAGE to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

Does this resonate with you? Why?

The question is, What are you going to do about it? When are you going to do something about it?

And please don't say, "Someday."

If there's anything I've learned in the past few years, it's that SOMEDAY is not a day in the week. SOMEDAY is a path to - and a prescription for - regrets.

I'm speaking from experience.

Several years ago, I promised myself I'd "pull a John Grisham" and write first thing every morning. That's what Grisham did before he hit it big with his bestselling books. His dream was to write novels, but he was a full-time lawyer raising a family. He could have told himself he was "too busy to write." Instead, he got up at 5 am every day and wrote before he went into work. He's now living his dream because he bet on it instead of putting it on hold.

If only I'd had the clarity and discipline of John Grisham. My good intentions to write every morning lasted a few weeks, then I hit the road for a month of speaking engagements. The next thing I knew my writing project was on the shelf ... again.

It took a health scare for me to finally stop postponing my dream to make writing a priority.

I’d been battling a respiratory infection for weeks, but “soldiered” through it because I had places to be, people counting on me. I kept hoping it would get better. It didn’t.

One morning I was so sick I couldn’t get out of bed. A friend rushed me to Urgent Care. After checking my lungs and reviewing my X-rays, the doctor diagnosed Walking Pneumonia. While writing out the prescription, he asked, “Why did you wait so long to get this taken care of?”

I made some mealy-mouthed excuse about being too busy to go to the doctor. He shrugged and said, “You’re lucky. I’m giving you a Z-pack and you’ll be better in ten days. But this was a warning. If you don’t start taking better care of yourself, your body will do something more drastic to get your attention.”

Well, that got my attention and gave me enough incentive to turn my “Someday I'm going to ...” into a “Today I will...”

What Are You Postponing?

“Life, as it is called, is for most of us one long postponement.” – Henry Miller

The question is, why did I postpone what was calling me? Why do so many of us procrastinate on our dreams and true priorities when we know they would make us happier and healthier?

We’re supposed to know better, right? Yet many of us continue to put off what’s important to us, idealistically assuming we’ll always have the option to do them later.

A young father named Jeff told me, “I don’t dream anymore. It’s too painful. I just keep my head down, put one foot in front of the other, and do the best I can.”

Ouch. When I asked what he meant, he said, “I love my family. I really do. But my life is nothing like I thought it would be. My wife and I both work full time. One of our sons has special needs. He never sleeps through the night so we're both exhausted. Maybe someday I’ll have the luxury to do more of what I want, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”

Jeff’s story was a variation of what many people have told me, “Doing what I want is just not an option. I’ve got too many obligations to think about that now.”

How about you? Do you feel your life is not your own? Do you feel your current situation is “just the way it is” and there's nothing you can do about it?

No. It’s not “just the way it is.” Certainly, there are some things beyond our control. Having a child with special needs is beyond our control. Having a parent with dementia is beyond our control. Our company going bankrupt and putting us out of work is beyond our control.

Yet, as Victor Frankl pointed out in his classic Man’s Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing - the last of the human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

In other words, we may not be able to control what happens to us; we can control what we do about it. You have more autonomy than you think. You may not be able to change your circumstances, you can change the way you deal with them.

The Most Frequently-Given Reasons for Why We Put Our Dreams on Hold

“Do you know the #1 prerequisite for change? A sense of urgency.” – John Kotter Please take a moment to look over the reasons below that people give for not doing more of what they want. Please ask yourself if any of these are true for you.

1. TIME: Are you waiting until you have more time to do what you want? Please understand, you'll never have more time than you have right now. As John Legend says, “The future is already here and we’re already late.”

2. MONEY: CNN Money reports, “78% of Americans say they live paycheck to paycheck.” Some people tell me they don't have enough money to do what they want. Please reframe that. You can be wealthy in what really matters for free. I was in a park yesterday watching a young couple with their toddler. They were blowing bubbles and having a grand time. I thought, “They could have paid thousands of dollars to travel to Disneyland and they wouldn’t be having a better time than they’re having right here, right now.” As Garth Brooks says, “You’re not wealthy until you have something money can’t buy.”

3. FAMILY RESPONSIBILITES: A woman told me, “I took a golden parachute deal from my company so I could retire early. What I didn’t anticipate was both my parents would be diagnosed with dementia. I’m now a full-time caregiver. This is not how I envisioned spending my fifties and sixties.” How about you? Are you so busy taking care of everyone else, there’s no time or energy left for you? Please understand, taking an hour a week do do something that makes you happy isn't selfish, it's smart. As Byron Katie says, "My happiness is on me, so you're off the hook."

4. WORK PRIORITIES: A Gallup poll reports “72% of people are uninspired and unhappy at work, yet 52% don’t take their full paid vacation.” What’s that about? Stanford professor Denise Brosseau told me, “In the Silicon Valley, it’s almost a badge of honor to ‘sleep under your desk.’ Sixty-hour weeks are the norm.” How about you? Does all your work have to be done before you make time for fun? Please understand, it's not indulgent to carve out time for fun; it's an investment in your mental and physical well-being.

5. HEALTH CHALLENGES: Are you dealing with aches, pains, a disability, injury or illness? Or, are you not exercising or eating right, but you're promising yourself you’ll take better care of yourself after the weekend's over? One way to make your life more of what you want it to be now is to start appreciating your "freedom of motion." Here's how.

6. FEAR OF CHANGE: Change can be scary. Know what’s scarier? Regrets. The good news is, change doesn't require courage - it requires clarity. Clarity that life is supposed to be an adventure and it's waiting for us to make the most of it. As author Louis L’Amour said, “We can’t learn anything from experiences we’re not having.”

7. “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT.” A friend delivered the commencement address at her alma mater. The graduates took the stage for a group photo and, with a grand flourish, opened their robes to reveal t-shirts underneath that said, “I don’t know.” Sound familiar? It’s hard to go after what we want if we don’t know what we want. This 4 Boxes of Happiness Quiz can help kick-start your clarity.

It’s Never Too Late – Or Too Early – to Change Things for Good

“Things don’t get better by chance, they get better by change.” – Jim Rohn

Did you relate to any of the above reasons? Please understand, even if these reasons have been true for you in the past, they don’t have to be true for you in the future.

One of the many wonderful things about being a human being is we can change for good - on any given day. All we have to do is identify one thing we’re going to do differently and attach a sense of urgency to it so we’re motivated to do it now, not in the far off future.

One of my favorite success stories about this happened in a conference breakout session in Waikiki. A woman named Beverly raised her hand in the Q & A and said, “I’ve been to motivational programs before. I go home all fired up, then life intervenes, and two weeks later everything is back to same old, same old. Any suggestions?”

I told her, “Have a pretend S.E.E. to give yourself a sense of urgency."

She said, "What's that?"

"An S.E.E. is a Significant Emotional Event. Unfortunately, most are dramatic or traumatic. We get sick, divorced, or fired which forces us to re-evaluate the way we’re living. We realize there are no guarantees which motivates us to focus on what matters now. The way I see it, why not have a pretend S.E.E. so we get the epiphany without the pain?”

“What’s an example of a pretend S.E.E.?”

“We can do one right here, right now. Just ask yourself, “If I only had a week to live, what would I stop doing? What would I start doing? What would I do differently?”

“You’re asking us to imagine we’re going to croak in a week? Isn’t that a bit morbid?”

I smiled, “Thinking about our mortality isn’t morbid; it’s motivating. Sometimes it’s just the incentive we need to stop taking our life, health, loved ones and freedoms for granted.”

She said, “Okay, I’ll play along. If I only had a week to live, I would stop letting fear rule my life and start doing things that scare me.”

“Like what?”

“Like going into the ocean. I watched JAWS when I was a kid. Big mistake. Here I am in Hawaii and I haven’t even gone into the water.”

I said, “Okay, let’s hack that fear. One way to hack fears is to realize they don’t prevent things from going wrong; they prevent things from going right.

Do you know about the protected swim area by the Natatorium where Duke Kahanamoku used to swim? It’s only three feet deep so there’s no way you can get in over your head, and there’s only one small opening in the sea wall so the surf can’t get in … and neither can the sharks. The key to overcoming procrastination is to put a ‘do date’ on the calendar so you don’t wiggle out of your intentions. When are you leaving the islands?”

“We fly out in two days.”

“Then tomorrow is the day. Schedule a 6 a.m. wake-up call. When the alarm goes off and you’re tempted to roll over and go back to sleep, ask yourself, ‘What will matter a year from now? That I got an extra hour of sleep? Or that I got up, got outside and had a one-of-a-kind experience I’ll always be grateful for?”

“It’s worth a try. But why 6 am?”

“Because sunrise is at 6:30 am and you want to be at water’s edge, ready to step into the ocean the moment the sun rises over Diamond Head. It will be what Hawaiians call a ‘chicken skin’ experience. Experiences are more meaningful when they’re metaphors. You’re not just stepping into the ocean, you’re stepping into a new way of life where you remember your mortality and make the most of your days now, not someday.”

I added, “Here’s my card with my number. Text me and let me know how it goes, okay?”

The next day I received a three word text "I DID IT" accompanied by a photo of a smiling-from-ear-to-ear, dripping wet Beverly.

What dream have you been postponing?

Could you ask yourself, “What will matter a year from now?” and have a pretend S.E.E. to give yourself a sense of urgency so you’re motivated to act on it today?

Aviation pioneer Chuck Yeager said, “At the moment of truth, there are either reasons or results."

If you results instead of regrets, stop putting your dreams on hold. Bet on them, act on them today .. instead of promising yourself you'll do them someday.

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency and author of SOMEDAY is NOT a Day in the Week, is on a mission to help people create a quality life-work thats adds value for all involved. Her TEDx talk and books Tongue Fu!, POP! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? have been featured in NY Times and presented to Intel, Capital One, NASA, Boeing, YPO, Cisco.

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NOW is the New LATER

At a recent SOMEDAY salon, I listened in to a small group of people who were discussing what they'd put in Square 2 of the Happiness Box. (You can find it here.) Kimberly, a 30-something bank employee said, “I didn't even have to think about it. I put down travel. I took a gap year between high school and college. I got a Eurorail pass, toured Europe, stayed in hostels and backpacked with people I met along the way. It was the best time of my life. I haven’t traveled out of the country since I got a ‘real job’ ten years ago and I miss it.”

I said, “Okay, let’s get more specific. Travel where?”

She thought about it for a moment and then brightened as she thought of a place she had always wanted to visit. “Nepal.”

“What do you want to do there? Trek the Himalaya’s?”

Her eyes brightened more as she started seeing this in her mind’s eye. “Yes.”

“All right, let’s get more specific. How much time do you have?"

"Ten days. Well, I get two weeks for vacation, but I want to save a couple days for something else just in case."

"Got it. Do you want to go by yourself or with a guided group?”

She started warming to the topic, “I want to go with an all-women’s group.”

The woman next to her said, “I know someone who did that. She had a fabulous time. The tour operator handled all the details. You just have to show up. What’s your number and I’ll text you her contact info.”

When I moved on, they were animatedly discussing details of the trip. Kimberly's vague wish went from something she wrote in Square 2 to something that had already “come alive” in her mind and that had a much higher likelihood of happening.

That is the power of using specifics to turn a SOMEDAY into a TODAY. That's the power of fleshing out the details of what you'd like to do so you're already mentally experiencing it.

How about you? Is there something you hope to do LATER when you have more time, money, clarity, freedom, whatever? What if that never happens? Later may be too late.

The key to turning an “I'd like to” into a “I will" is to fill out your W5 Form.

WHAT exactly do you want to do, see, experience? What resources do you need? What is the next step to making this happen? ______________ 2. WHY does this light you up? Why is this exciting to you, something you would enjoy or find meaningful? ______________________________

3. WHERE specifically do you want to go? Where would this take place? Online? Another city or country? _______________________________

4. WHEN would you go, launch this, start or finish it ?________________

5. WHO would you go with? Or WHO do you want to meet, connect with? Who can help make this happen or help you move it forward?________________

The more W’s you picture for your project, the more “real” it becomes in your mind’s eye. Visualizing what you want with vivid W’s turns something vague into something visceral.

Pearl S. Buck said, “Stories were full of hearts broken by love, but what really broke a heart was taking away its dream, whatever that dream might be.”

What takes away a dream is not committing a date to it on your calendar.

If you want results instead of regrets, fill out and post your W5 Form – What? Why? When? Where? Who? - where you’ll see it every day.

The more detailed you get, the more invested you are, and the most invested you are, the more likely it is your dream will come true.

So, what is something you've been planning to do later?

How are you doing to set it in motion - even if that means putting a date on the calendar - NOW instead of waiting for the perfect time, place or person?

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What Are You WAITING For?

"It gets late early out there." - Yogi Berra A participant at a recent conference asked in the Q & A, "How did you come up with the title of your upcoming book Someday is not a day in the week"

I told her, "I've met so many people over the past few years who talked about what they were going to do ... someday.

Whether it was take more time for their family, take better care of themselves, or pursue a passion project ... they told me they planned (or hoped) to do it when they're not so busy, when their kids go off to college, when they retire, when they have more money, when things aren't so crazy at work ... fill in the blank.

I shared Henry Miller's quote with the group, 'Life, for many of us, is one long postponement" and told them that many of us wait for perfect circumstances to take action on our dreams and passion projects.

The problem with that? Our future is not guaranteed. The longer we wait, the more likely it is we'll never do what we want to do and we'll end up with regrets."

How about you? What is something you want to do you've been postponing? What is something meaningful that could fill your life with joy, purpose and meaning?

Please read and re-read Paulo Coelho's quote, "One day you're going to wake up and there won't be any time left to do the things you've always wanted to do."

It's time to stop waiting and start initiating. You will never regret doing more of what puts the light on in your eyes, you will only regret not doing it sooner.

You don't have to quit your job or abandon your responsibilities, just do one thing each week that makes you like your life. It doesn't have to be grandiose. Just one thing you enjoy and look forward to that makes you a bit happier and healthier."

You might want to read the quotes below and select one that really sings to you. Print it out or write it out and tape it to your laptop or post it above your desk or on your frig. Keep it in sight, in mind so you keep your promise to make the rest of your life the best of your life.

"May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears." - Nelson Mandela

"You can't be that kid standing at the top of the water slide, over-thinking it. You've got to go down the chute." - Tina Fey

"If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't; you'll find an excuse." - Jim Rohn

"Are you doing what you're doing today because it works; or because it's what you were doing yesterday?" - Dr. Phil McGraw

"Our life expands or contracts in proportion to our courage." - Anais Nin

"Let us always be open to the miracle of a second chance." - Rev. David Steir

"I have heard every excuse in the book, except a good one." - Bob Greene

"Are you putting aside what you want most for what you want now?" - Zig Ziglar

"It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis." - M. W. Bonano

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere." - Belle from Beauty in the Beast

"Don't just follow your dreams; launch them." - Sam Horn

"The trouble is, you think you have time." -Buddha

"Everything you want is on the other side of fear." - Jack Canfield

"Once you've done the mental work, there comes a point you have to throw yourself into action and put your heart on the line." - Phil Jackson

"Perhaps we never really appreciate anything until it is challenged." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"When we neglect what matters most to us, then that becomes what's the matter with us." -Paula Reeves

"The scariest moment is always right before you start." - Stephen King

"To feel, think, love and learn; surely that is being alive and young in the real sense."- Freya Stark

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change we seek." - Barack Obama

"Some people get stuck because they keep telling themselves stories about how stuck they are." - Anonymous

"You can't go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending." - C.S. Lewis

"We are what we settle for." - Janis Joplin

"Tomorrow is another day. But so was yesterday." - Rene Ricard

"Nothing will work, unless you do." - Maya Angelou

"I shall tell you a great secret, my friend. Do not wait for the last judgment. It takes place every day." - Albert Camus

"The bad news is, time flies. The good news is, you're the pilot." - M. Altschuler

"Don't tell it like it is, tell it like you want it to be." - Esther Hicks

"The most important things aren't things." - Ann Landers

"We don't stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with you one wild and precious life?" - Mary Oliver

"I didn't change. I just woke up." - Pinterest post (I wrote about this here.)

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." - Pablo Picasso (Also attributed to David Viscott)

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan

"My parents always told me I wouldn't amount to anything because I procrastinated so much. I told them, 'Just you wait.'" - Judy Tenuta

"Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun." - Randy Pausch (Click here to discover why many of us only have FUN when our work is DONE).

Please understand, one of these days is none of these days.

Hope this post and these quotes inspire you to set something in motion today that creates a life that's more in alignment with your values and true priorities.

Remember, we're never too OLD for NEW dreams ... and there is no present like the time - and no time like the present - to do more of what puts the light on in your eyes.

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My Story Isn't Over Yet

Did you know Serena Williams: * is playing in her 10th Wimbledon women’s singles final tomorrow?

* was fighting for her life ten months ago after giving birth to her first child?

* had blood clot complications following her emergency C-section - and the subsequent surgeries and recovery left her so debilitated that “walking to the mailbox was a struggle?”

* suffered potential career-ending injuries in 2011, including two foot surgeries and a pulmonary embolism, and didn’t know if she'd “get out of the hospital,” much less play tennis again?

Yet, Serena has not only bounced back from those health challenges, she is poised to go for her 30th Grand Slam tournament title (including doubles, the most of anyone).

I can only imagine Serena was tempted to give up when she was hurting, when she could hardly walk, when she was enduring the grueling physical therapy and training workouts to regain her health and get back into playing condition.

It would have been so easy to give up when the odds were against her and it all looked so bleak.

But she wasn’t finished. As she says, “My story isn’t over yet."

Serena wasn’t willing to turn her back on her talent. She believed she still had greatness in her, more championships to win, even though she was in the desert of her dream.

Instead of abandoning her dreams, she re-dedicated herself and chose to use those setbacks and challenges as an INCENTIVE instead of as an EXCUSE.

As a result of fighting for what’s important to her, she’s reached a well-deserved oasis of success that's not a mirage; it is a hard-won reality.

She is reaping the rewards of persevering through the dark days … even when there were no guarantees.

How about you? Are you in the desert of your dream?

Are things not working out the way you hoped? Have you received bad news? Are people not seeing what you’re seeing, not believing what you’re believing?

If you’re a startup or small business owner, are you not making the money you need?

If you work in an organization, are you not getting the projects or promotions you deserve?

If you’re out of work, are you not getting the interviews, call-backs or offers you deserve?

Could you “pull a Serena” and persevere through the desert of your dream?

Could you tell yourself, "My story's not over yet."

Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Every successful person will tell you there were setbacks along the way that, at the time, seemed unsurmountable, that could have drained their confidence and caused them to quit.

Instead, they chose to transcended doubts and live forward. In doing so, they re-established momentum and moved closer to achieving what they envisioned in their heart and mind's eye.

As Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

He also said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

If you are facing setbacks, if you are in the desert of your dream, remember the shining example of Serena Williams.

See those setbacks as incentive rather than as an excuse.

Believe in your dream. Believe in yourself. Believe that what you want matters. And then, continue. Always continue.

P.S. I know where I'll be tomorrow morning ... watching the person #Nike and #TheNewYorker both called "The Greatest Athlete of our Time" play at #Wimbledon and show us what it takes to be a true champion. How about you?

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Turn Worrying into Wishing

"Complaining chases away inspiration." - Elizabeth Gilbert Elizabeth Gilbert is right. Not only do complaining, worrying and regretting chase away inspiration - they kill dreams and are a total misuse of imagination.

While on my Year by the Water, many people told me they dreamed of going on an adventure like that. When I asked why they weren't, they said they had too many responsibilities. They'd do it "someday" when they had more time, money or freedom.

I'll always remember an exhausted young mom with two children who told me she was tapped out, "I've got so much on my plate, dreaming just isn't an option for me right now."

I said, "Want good news? No matter how tired you are, you have mind time when you go to bed - the 5-50 minutes before you fall to sleep. You're laying there anyway, might as well put your imagination to work for you instead of tossing and turning or staring at the ceiling. What do you think about when you go to bed?'

"Everything that's wrong. The kids fighting. The bills mounting up. How much I hate my job."

I said, "From now on, instead of focusing on what frustrates you, focus on what would fulfill you. This is called awake dreaming and it's a more proactive use of mind-time."

She said, "Okay, that makes sense. As you said replaying what's wrong doesn't change it, it just keeps me up and makes me feel worse. So, how do I do this awake dreaming?"

Picture something you'd like to achieve or experience. Then, think through the 5 W's.

What? What is something you would look forward to that would inspire you and add personal meaning and fulfillment to your days? What can you do to move this forward? What knowledge, skills or resources do you need to turn this dream into a reality? What results do you want? What does successful completion of this look like to you?

Why? Why will this be enjoyable, uplifting, rewarding, worthwhile? Why will it contribute to a quality life, help you add value for others, be part of a legacy you want to leave?

Who? Who can you brainstorm this with? Who has been there, done this and can share their lessons-learned? Who could hear you out and be an advocate or a supportive sounding board? Who could connect you with an investor, a potential partner or team members?

When? When will you do this, launch this, finish this? If you don't put specific dates on the calendar - or schedule them into your day-timer - it's probably not going to happen. As my mom used to say, "That which can be done at any time rarely gets done at all." Increase accountable and the likelihood of success by assigning metrics and numbers to your dream.

Where? Where is the location this will take place? Put yourself in the scene. Imagine yourself crossing the finish line of that 10K, sailing the bay, walking across the stage with that diploma, having a picnic in your local park with neighborhood parents and their kids.

As Gloria Steinem points out, "Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning."

How about you? What do you think about when you go to bed? Starting tonight, instead of regretting what did go wrong, complaining about what is wrong, or worrying what could go wrong, put your mind time to work for you by actively dreaming about what you do want vs. what you don't.

Remember, it's never too late to be who you want to be.

Dreaming costs nothing. Not dreaming costs everything.

You might want to print out the following quotes out and put them on your nightstand. Before you go to bed, review them to remind yourself to use your imagination - for good.

16 Quotes to Put Your Imagination and Mind-Time to Work For You vs. Against You

1. "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." - Albert Einstein

2. "Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious." - Thomas Edison

3. "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." - Eleanor Roosevelt

4. "Imagination is the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not; it is the foundation of all invention and innovation." - novelist J. K. Rowling

5. "Dreamers are mocked as impractical. The truth is they are the most practical, as their innovations lead to progress and a better way of life for all of us.” - Robin S. Sharma

6. "Imagination has no age. Dreams are forever." - Walt Disney

7. "There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love." - actress Sophia Loren

8. “When I am completely myself, entirely alone during the night when I cannot sleep, it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly." - Mozart

9. Each man should frame life so that at some future hour fact and his dreaming meet." - Victor Hugo

12. "Imagination is the true magic carpet." - Norman Vincent Peale

13. "So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable." - Christopher Reeves

14. "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose." - Dr. Seuss

15. "Imagination is nothing without doing." - Charles Chaplin

16. "A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities." - J. R. R. Tolkein

When Lupito Nyong'o won her Academy Award, she looked straight into the camera and into the eyes of millions of people watching around the globe and said, "No matter where you're from, your dreams are valid."

Not only are dreams valid, they're a valuable way to turn what you mentally see into reality.

So, the question is, what are you going to think about tonight when you go to bed? Are you going to complain or create? Focus on what frustrates you or what would fulfill you?

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It's Never Too Late to Be Who You Want to Be

"Are you talking yourself INTO what you want to do - or OUT OF it?" - Sam Horn How satisfying it was to cross the finish line of the Bolder Boulder 10K. I still can't believe I almost took myself out of the running ... before it even started.

Here’s what happened.

The BB is one of the largest 10K races (6.2 miles) in the country with 50,000 participants. I planned to be in the area visiting my son Tom, and thought it’d be a fun event to do together. It would give us something to train for and look forward to. A memory in the making.

This is no ordinary race. It’s got water slides, a singing Elvis, a Macarena dance-along, costumes, parents with babies in backpacks, shuffling dinosaurs, all with the stunning Colorado mountains as a backdrop.

Unfortunately, in the days leading to the race, the wimp inside me started speaking up.

“You’re not in good enough shape to finish. You didn’t train the way you should have.”

“Your knee has been popping out of place. What if that happens in the race?”

“It’s going to be a hassle getting into town, trying to find parking with all the crowds.”

Who was this unwelcome voice, this nay-sayer, taking pot shots at my dream?

Growing up, I had promised myself I wouldn’t become a grump, grousing about my age and aches and pains, taking myself out of the game of life. Yet here I was doing what I had promised myself I wouldn’t.

I had organized running programs in Washington DC when I was in my twenties. We would take people who hadn’t run before, and with the support of our enjoyable group jogs around the monuments and Smithsonian, they could finish a 10K after six weeks of training.

Yet here I was, worrying whether I could finish six miles … walking. Embarrassing.

The good news? George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

It’s also never too late to be who we want to be.

I told those doubts to get lost and started focusing on what a one-of-a-kind OPPORTUNITY this was. I reminded myself how glad I would always be I went ahead and did this instead of backing out.

I realized Tom and Patty could go at their pace, I could go at mine. That removed pressure. I told myself that if I needed to drop out, I could; but I would make that decision DURING the race, not BEFORE.

The night before, Tom opened our race packet, got out our t-shirts, pinned our numbers to the front, and researched the event online. After seeing all the closed streets, he wisely ordered an Uber so we could zip into town the next morning with no problems. Doing the actual prep made it all easy peasy.

Memorial Day dawned bright and sunny. A perfect day. The excitement and sheer fun of being surrounded by people making the most of their health and life was inspiring.

My comfortable pace allowed me to genuinely enjoy and imprint every step of this memorable experience. I wasn’t fast, but I finished ahead of the dinosaur. Only in the Bolder Boulder can you say that.

As I came up the final hill and into the stadium, I kept thinking, “I did it. I did it.”

Those words “I did it. I did it” are a fountain of confidence.

Every time we step up and do something that is in alignment with who we want to be, we like ourselves and our life a little bit more.

Every time we back out of something we want to do, we chip away at our confidence. We think less of ourselves when we pass up opportunities that would make the most of our life.

What is your version of the Bolder Boulder? What is something you want to do - have been thinking about going for - but those nay-saying doubts are creeping in?

Whether it's going for a promotion, getting involved in Toastmasters, applying for a job, or saying yes to speaking at a conference - you will never regret putting yourself into the game of life; you will only regret taking yourself out of it and wondering what might have been.

Ask yourself, “Am I going to be a spectator or a participant?"

Which feels better? Which will you always be glad you did?

You will never regret saying yes to life; you will only regret saying no and missing out on the satisfying, confidence-building opportunities and experiences that could be yours.

I'm speaking from experience. It's never too let to be who you want to be.

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Don't Quit Your Day Dream

“Don’t quit your day dream.” – Alicia Keys While watching the finals of The Voice and American Idol, something stood out about all the contestants, even though they came from wildly diverse backgrounds.

None of them quit their day dream.

Well, some did, for a while. Some gave up their music, discouraged by the rejection and the frustration of feeling they had talent that deserved to be noticed and appreciated – and that wasn't. But they kept a spark of hope alive, and summoned up the courage to audition even when the odds were against them. Even when their chances of success were slim.

Instead of abandoning their dream, they bet on themselves and put their hope on the line.

How about you? What’s your day dream? Have you always wanted to travel? Write a book? Start your own business? Learn to play guitar? Get involved in community theater?

Have you set aside that dream? Did someone talk you out of it or did you give it up because you felt the odds of success were next to nothing?

Why not follow the example of these contestants who bet on themselves and put their dreams on the line? The only thing you have to lose is … regret.

I recently asked my network for help with the sub-title for my book SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week. The winning choice? Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life.

When I shared with my online community, Jillyn Hawkley Peterson got in touch to say:

“Know what my husband said to me 18 months ago after getting tired of hearing me talk about something I wanted to do for more than a decade?

‘Are you ever going to do it?! Because if you’re not, could you please stop talking about it?’

I am now 1726 miles into a 3800 mile bicycle trek across the country and should finish sometime in 2019.

Because the only thing that happens someday is I’ll die. And then I can’t get any of this stuff done. I would make the sub-title ‘Do It or Stop Talking About It.’ LOL.”

Kudos to Jillyn for making the rest of her life the best of her life, for proving we’re never too old for new dreams. (Check out her blog Jypsy Jill Rides to be inspired by her travels).

How about you dream? Are you living it or have you set it aside? What is that one thing you’ve been waiting to do you would regret not doing?

And if you’re thinking, “I'll do it later when I have more time," please rethink that. You’ll never have more time than you have right now.

And if you’re planning to do this when you retire, please rethink that too. One of the saddest discoveries of my Year by the Water was how many people waited to retire to embark on their dreamed-of adventure … and when the time came, they no longer had their health or the significant other they planned to share their adventure with.

Rene Ricard says, “Tomorrow is another day. But so was yesterday.”

Put a date on the calendar NOW when you will launch your day dream. Not tomorrow. Not someday. Today.

You will never regret betting on yourself and putting your day dream into motion; you’ll only regret not doing it … sooner.

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, has helped thousands of clients create quality books, brands and presentations that scaled their impact – for good. Her TEDx talk and books Tongue Fu!, POP!, and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? have been featured in New York Times and on NPR, and presented to YPO, Intel, NASA, Capital One, Nationwide. Want Sam to speak at your conference? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com

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SOMEDAY Is Not a Day in the Week

I'm here speaking at an event in Hawaii, and a participant asked, "What prompted you to write a book on SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week?"

I told the group the backstory and why I am a woman on a mission on this topic, and thought you might enjoy reading it too.

In 2015, I had just finished an intense two day consult. It was satisfying but I was so exhausted, I didn't know how I was going to get on the plane home that night.

My son called while I was summoning up energy to drive to the airport. He sensed something in my voice and asked, "What's up, Mom?"

I told him how drained I was and he said, "Mom, there's something about you I don't understand. You've created a life where you can do anything you want, and you're not taking advantage of it."

Out of the mouths of twenty-somethings. He was right. I could take time off. My sons were grown and out of the house. I was single, healthy, and could do work on the road to finance my adventures. I was free to go.

But you know what? Instead of changing things up, I went right back to my old habits and started filling my calendar again.

It wasn't until several months later when I was driving along the Pacific Coast on my way to give a workshop, that I had a "divine intervention." And yes, I know that sounds woo-woo, but that's what happened.

All of a sudden my mind was filled with an idea that wanted to be born.

If there's anything I learned from 17 years of emceeing the Maui Writers Conference, it's how important it is to ink it when we think it. So, I pulled over and here’s what poured out.

(Really. You can’t make this stuff up.)

“Some people are drawn to fire. I am drawn to water. After all, we are 65 percent water. It is our essence, our lifeblood. All of us are bodies of water.

Yet, as Maslow pointed out, water is a fulfilled need. And fulfilled needs tend to get overlooked and taken for granted.

So it is that I will set out on my Year by the Water on October 1. (My whaat?!)

I will spend a week by a different body of water — oceans, estuaries, mountain streams. Each week will have a theme. Can we really not step in the same river twice? Does salt water — sea, tears and sweat — cure what ails us? Why can’t we collect all the shells on the beach?

So, Chesapeake Bay, Marina Del Rey… here I come. I will interview people along the way — surfers, swimmers, sailors. I will swim with dolphins, houseboat on Lake Tahoe, snuba in Maui, sail off the coast of California.

I am clear that I am supposed to set this in motion but I am not supposed to control it. I am supposed to do the opposite of my always and cooperate with what wants to happen.

And so it is.”

I sat there, stunned by the out-of-the-blue suddeness of it all.

However, I realized how fortunate I was to have a crystal clear “calling” downloaded to me (with a name and start date no less) so I answered that call.

In retrospect, I think another reason I was so ready and willing to make this major change was because of something that happened to my dad.

My dad's dream was to visit all the national parks when he retired. As head of vocational ag education for the state of California, he was on the road 4-5 days a week driving to high schools, county fairs and farms and ranches. He was an honorable man who worked hard for decades to make a positive difference in the lives of his FFA advisors and students.

A week after retiring, he took off on his long-delayed dream, and a week after that, he had a stroke in a hotel bathroom.

Dad recovered from that stroke but he never did get to fulfill his dream of visiting the Smoky Mountains, Zion, Glacier and the Grand Tetons.

I didn't want that to happen me. I don't want that to happen to anyone.

Fast-forward to 2017. I did set out on my Year by the Water and it was everything I hoped it would be - and more.

The irony is, it ended up not being about the water.

It ended up being about the people I met.

In particular, the people who, upon hearing about my Year by the Water, would say wistfully, "I'm going to do something like that ...someday."

When I asked why they were postponing their dreams, many said, "I'm busy, I've got bills to pay, people counting on me."

They seemed to think it was selfish, almost irresponsible, to do what made them happy.

The problem with that? It’s based on the assumption that we’ll be able to do what we want when we’re ready. But what if we don’t?

As the Buddha said, "The thing is, we think we have time."

The purpose of my book (published by St. Martin's Press, Jan. 2019) is to help you get crystal clear that life is much too precious to postpone.

You have a right and a responsibility to do more of what makes you happy.

Please note, I’m not suggesting you quit your job, walk away from your obligations or take a year off to follow your dreams.

Many of you aren't in a position to do that ... and/or you may not want to do that.

The good news is, there are small things you can do right here, right now, to be happier, healtheir, more joyful and fulfilled.

My hope is that by reading inspiring stories of people who decided to change their life for good; you’ll be motivated to do the same.

Most importantly, I hope you’ll be motivated to put yourself in your own story and honor your true priorities. It's not selfish, it's smart.

You’ll never regret taking the time to focus on what will matter in the long run; you’ll only regret not doing it … sooner.

You've Got to Have a Dream for a Dream To Come True

As I interview people for my upcoming book, I’m saddened to hear how many are so overwhelmed by their many obligations, they have given up dreaming. This story of a young dad has stayed with me. He said, “I commute two hours a day and work in a job I hate to pay bills. We've got three kids under the age of five so my wife and go from the moment we wake up to the mment we go to sleep. I don’t dream anymore; it’s too painful. I just keep my head down and do the best I can to get through the day.

I told him, “That’s why you need a dream. Otherwise, years will fly by and before you know it, you’ll be looking back wondering, “What happened?!”

He pushed back, “You don’t get it. I’m exhausted. I don’t have the time or energy to dream.”

I told him, “I do get it. It’s just that, instead of seeing exhaustion as a reason for NOT dreaming; it’s even MORE reason to dream. That’s not my opinion, that’s based on research done by “The Grand-Daddy of Goal-setting.” Dr. Edwin Locke reports that ‘specific, challenging goals lead to higher performance than no goals because they direct attention and mobilize effort.”

In other words, if you want to be happier, you need to direct attention and mobilize effort towards a meaningful life goal (that’s all a dream is) so you have something to look forward to, something that gives your life meaning and momentum.

He said, “Okay, I get that. It’s just been so long since I’ve allowed myself to have a dream, I no longer have one.”

I told him, “The good news is, there’s a four-minute exercise that can help you identify a personally meaningful dream that can help you be happier. The dream doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to take time, money and energy you don’t have. It can be something small YOU want to do that could make life a bit better.

Please note: if you’re busy, tired, and tempted to skip this exercise, please rethink that.

A career coach told me, “Sam, you know what surprises me, even after all these years? Many people spend more time deciding what movie to watch than what to do with the rest of their life.”

The average movie is 120 minutes.This quiz takes 4 minutes. Surely identifying a dream that could lead to a happier life is as important as watching a movie. Think of it this way, this exercise is a four-minute mental movie of a life of your dreams.

Sam Horn's Four Minute - Four Box Happiness Quiz

“Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem

Have you ever played a word-association game in which someone asks a question and you’re supposed to say the first thing that comes to mind? For example, I say, “Soup,’ you say “Sandwich.” I say “Horse,” you say “Carriage.” I say, “Hat,” you say “Trick.”

That’s what you want to do in this quiz. Please don’t second-guess your answers. Your first response is usually the most honest response, and that's the goal.

1. Please label the boxes in the square below: Box 1 is upper left. Box 2 is upper right. Box 3 is lower left. Box 4 is lower right. Put the word DOING on top of Box 1. Put the words NOT DOING on top of Box 2. Put the words WANT TO to the left of Box 1. Put the words DON’T WANT TO to the left of Box 3.

2. Write in Square 1 your first responses to this question: “What are you DOING in your life you WANT TO?” Doing work you love? Renovating your house? Walking your dog? Dating someone you like? Getting out in nature on weekends?

3. Write in Square 2 your fist responses to this question: “What are you NOT DOING in your life you WANT TO?” Not spending time with your family? Not exercising? Not writing? Not going back to college to get a degree? Not traveling?

4. Write in Square 3 your first responses to this question: “What are you DOING in your life you DON’T WANT TO?” Commuting two hours a day? Over-eating? Fighting with a spouse? On a time-wasting committee? Watching too much TV or spending too much time on social media?

5. Write in Square 4 your first response to this question: “What are you NOT DOING in your life and you DON’T WANT TO?” Yes, this is a double negative. It’s an important question though because it identifies toxic/unhealthy behaviors you're avoiding. Maybe you used to smoke and don’t anymore, and you never want to pick up another cigarette. Maybe you don’t want to work sixty hours a week and you’re not.

What Do Your Answers in The 4 Minute - 4 Box Happiness Quia Mean?

“They say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol

Take a few minutes to go back and fill in anything else that occurs to you. Gut responses are often the most enlightening, however others can offer additional insight.

When you’re finished, look at the responses in Box 1 and 4. That’s what’s “right” with your life, what’s contributing to your happiness.

The answers in Box 2 and 3 are what’s “wrong” with your life, what’s compromising your happiness. These are priorities you’ve been neglecting, putting off, promising you'll do someday when you have more time, money, freedom … fill in the blank.

Please note: we’ll always be things “wrong” with our life. None of us are perfect. The question is, “HOW LONG?” How long have you been doing these things you don’t want to do? How long have you not been doing the things you want to do?

You might be thinking, “But Sam, it's complicated. I’m locked into a golden handcuffs situation. I don’t have the luxury to act on what's in box 2 and 3.”

Au contraire. If you identify one thing in your life you really care about and carve out time for that, it can compensate for the 90% that is a compromise or out of your control. As Thomas Edison said, “There's always a better way to do something, find it.”

That young dad? One of the things he wasn't doing was watching football with friends. This was a fairly simple fix. Instead of waiting until he had more time, (not going to happen, do you know anyone who has more time than they used to? The truth is, we’ll never have more time than we have right now); he and his wife set up “friend dates.”

The first and third Monday of every month (in season) he heads to a friend's house for Monday Night Football. The second and fourth Monday of every month (in season) his wife heads to her friends’ house for a night of cards.

This change did not require a major life overhaul. It cost nothing and takes 6 hours a month. But it’s two nights a month they both get to do something that makes them happy. It shows how acting on one thing from Box 2 can have a ripple effect that prevents regrets and positively impacts other areas of your life.

Please note: it is NOT SELFISH to take six hours a month to do something that makes you happy; it's SMART. In the midst of taking care of others, you have the right - and a responsibility - to take care of yourself. What you want matters, and it's up to you to keep it in your life instead of abandoning what makes you happy.

How about you? What did you put in Box 2 and 3? How will you act on one of those priorities today so you have a dream come true now, not someday?

SOMEDAY Quote #64: My Imagination Won't Turn Off. I Wake Up Excited.

Hollywood producer/director Stephen Spielberg said, "My imagination won't turn off. I wake up excited." Is imagination an active part of your life? Do you wake up excited about your day?

A client recently told me she grew up dreaming. Like me, she grew up in a small town. Books were her window to a fascinating world somewhere "out there" beyond the confines of her isolated mountain valley. She always knew she wanted to be an author when she grew up, and that's exactly what's happened.

Yet, she's a single mom these days and her time is filled with taking care of her two kids and dealing with school activities, sports, music lessons, homework, chores, financial concerns and everything that goes along with being a solo parent/provider. She writes when her kids are at school and sometimes after they go to bed ... if she can stay awake.

She has a contract for her next book, but the ideas aren't coming. She told me, "I'm too exhausted to think. I have so much to do, I don't have any energy left to be creative."

I told her, "Do you know we have mind time when we go to bed? Mind time is the 5-50 minutes we have to think before we fall to sleep. Whether you wake up exhausted or excited depends a lot on whether you're putting your mind time to work for you or against you.'"

I asked her, "What do you usually think about when you go to bed?'

She laughed and said, "I debrief the day, what happened with the kids. what didn't happen with my book. The next thing I know, the alarm goes off and it's time to get up."

I suggested, "From now on, put that mind time to work for you. Instead of mentally regurgitating that day, picture what you want to happen the next day. Imagine the kids getting along at breakfast and getting off to school on time. Imagine sitting down at your desk and the words coming so fast your fingers can hardly keep up. Imagine wrapping up for the day and feeling satisfied with your progress. I call that 'forward focus.' It's a better use of your brain because you're giving it a road map to follow."

At our next session she said, "Sam, that concept of mind time has made a huge difference for me. You're right. I'm going to be laying in bed anyway. I might as well focus on what I do want instead of what I don't."

How about you? What do you think about when you go to bed? I've found many of us spend our mind time worrying, regretting or resenting. No wonder we wake up exhausted.

From now on, spend your mind time imagining what you do want instead of what you don't. Debrief the day if you wish; just make it purposeful. What worked? What was meaningful, productive, satisfying? How can you do more of that tomorrow?

What didn't work? What was frustrating, ineffective? How will you do that differently tomorrow? Picture what you prefer in your mind's eye. Envision it unfolding just the way you imagined it. Put your brain to work for you instead of against you.

Want your dreams to come true? Imagination + action = ImaginACTION.

Promise yourself, tonight - and every night - you'll use your mind time to focus forward and envision what you do want so you wake up excited and raring to go.

Add some inspiration to your ImaginACTION by picking a favorite quote from the ones below. Then post it where it will stay in sight- in mind to remind you of the power of using your mind time - for good.

1. "A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities." - J. R. R. Tolkein

2. "Live out of your imagination, not your history." - Stephen Covey

3. "Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." - Harriet Tubman

4. "Imagination is the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not; it is the foundation of all invention and innovation." - novelist J. K. Rowling

5. "Dreamers are mocked as impractical. The truth is they are the most practical, as their innovations lead to progress and a better way of life for all of us.” - Robin S. Sharma

6. “Look closely at the present you're constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming." - Alice Walker

7 "There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love." - actress Sophia Loren

8. “When I am completely myself, entirely alone during the night when I cannot sleep, it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly." - Mozart

9. Each man should frame life so that at some future hour fact and his dreaming meet." - Victor Hugo

10. "So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable." - Christopher Reeves

11. "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." - Eleanor Roosevelt

When Lupito Nyong'o won her Academy Award, she looked straight into the camera and into the eyes of millions of people in the television audience and said, "No matter where you're from, your dreams are valid."

Not only are dreams valid, they're -oh-so-valuable in turning what you see into reality. Summon what you want when you go to sleep so your dreams become inevitable.

Want more ways to put your mind to work for you?

Check out my books ConZentrate, What's Holding You Back?, POP!, Got Your Attention? and IDEAPRENEUR. Hope you find them intriguing, inspiring and useful.

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Day Right Quote #63: If I''m Not Willing To Do It TODAY, What Makes Me Think I'll Be Willing To Do It Tomorrow?

I had cut carbs out of my diet but recently went back to eating them. Boo. I promised myself I'd eat green again after the holiday weekend.

Then I thought, "If I'm not willing to do it today, what makes me think I'll be willing to do it tomorrow?"

So I went back to green shakes and I'm glad I did.

As Pope Paul III said, "The future starts today, not tomorrow."

How about you? What is it you want more of - or less of - in your life?

Are you procrastinating? Are you promising yourself you'll take action on it .... tomorrow?

If you're not willing to do it TODAY, what makes you think you'll be willing to do it TOMORROW?

Don't delay. Your happiness depends on you beginning it today.

As discussed in this post, you will never regret doing more of what puts the light on in your eyes.

You will only regret not doing it ... sooner.

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Day Right Quote #51: The Future Starts Today, Not Tomorrow

Wisdom from the Pope, "The future starts today, not tomorrow." He's right.

We talk about what we're GOING to do tomorrow or next month when we're not so tired, busy or overwhelmed.

Meanwhile, our life whizzes by.

The truth is, we'll never have more time than we have right #now.

As John Legend says, "The future started yesterday and we're already late."

What will you do today to kick-start the future of your dreams?

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Day Right Quote #9: Life is a Window of Opportunity

Life is a window of opportunity. Have you ever thought of it that way?

We are here for a certain amount of time.

Are you taking advantage of your precious window of opportunity to pursue your dreams, connect with loved ones, do what makes you happy?

Henry Miller said, "Life is, for most of us, one long postponement."

What is something you're postponing?

How will you start that, do that, bring more of that into your life THIS WEEK instead of putting it off?

Life is a window of opportunity

Lesson #7 From My Year by the Water: There is No Present Like the Time to Do More of What Puts the Light On In Your Eyes

"I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me." - #1 regret of the dying as reported by nurse Bonnie Ware Many people on my Year by the Water talked wistfully of the dreams they pan to do ... someday. Are you waiting until you have more time, money, energy, freedom to do what you really want to do? What if that never happens?

Face it. There never will be a "right" time to do more of what matters to you. You'll never have more time than you have right now. Get clear on what's important to you and begin. Make today the someday you've been waiting for.

I recently did something I've been wanting to do for a long time.

While in Southern California celebrating Thanksgiving with my sister, I decided I was only 90 minutes away from the small town where I grew up and thought, "There’s no present like the time” to return for a trip down Memory Row.

You know how you always hear how SMALL everything looks in your hometown? True dat. The C & H store in Ne Cuyama – which loyally bought our 4-H and FFA animals at the Santa Maria Fair every year – used to seem so far from our house yet it was only a half mile away. I remember tearing there in our hoopy (a golf cart we used to go to the barn and corrals to feed our horses, steers and sheep) to splurge and buy a can of chicken noodle soup, a Babe Ruth bar, a small packet of Fritos and a soda for under a dollar (our food allowance for a summer day and this was way before we starting counting carbs.)

Here’s the high school (104 students on its busiest year) where I learned to play tennis by hitting thousands of balls against the backboard, and where Mr. Adams shaped some talent-shy kids into a decent jazz band. Memories of Cheri playing Pete Fountain’s Stranger on the Shore on her clarinet, Fascination on her saxophone, and us rockin it on String of Pearls, Glenn Miller's In The Mood and A-Train.

Here’s the shop where Dad, the ag teacher in town, spent long hours teaching 3 welding classes a day and building a 4-horse stock trailer from scratch. And the football field where we had our version of "Friday Nigh Lights' with 6 man football. And the rec center where our small community gathered for roller skate nights, cake walks and

Aahh, the elementary school where I ran for student body president against Don Cox and lost by 1 vote because he handed out bubble gum at the polls. (Couldn't be anything else, right? Ha.)

And there’s the school auditorium where I gave my first public speech as 8th-grade valedictorian, (which may not seem like a big deal, but in our small town it was to me.) The night of graduation, our librarian Mr. Bowers pulled me aside and gifted me with a pen and ink drawing he’d done of a mustang standing on a bluff overlooking a herd of horses on a plateau below. He said, “Sam, you’re a mustang. Mustangs join the herd at will, but leave when the herd tries to take them where they don’t want to go.”

Thank you Mr. Bowers for seeing me and for reaching out at an influential age to give me a supportive identity. As Henry F. Emerson said, “Teachers affect eternity. Who know where their influence will end?”

Who could forget the library? I used to ride my horse Joe - a palomino who had two speeds, a trot and an all-out run, he never, ever walked – here and tie him to a tree while I went in with the hopes of finding a book I hadn’t already read.

I devoured everything (even the 87th Precinct series by Ed McBain that was far beyond my pay grade, so to speak) but the Black Stallion books by Walter Farley were my favorite. They gave me an all-important window into a fascinating world just waiting to be explored outside the confines of our isolated mountain valley.

The Buckhorn was the only “fancy” place and restaurant in town. We would save our money, sit at the counter and splurge on a grilled cheese and root beer float from the soda fountain. Cheri celebrated her 14th birthday at a pool party here by wearing a daring (and forbidden) two piece bathing suit brought in Catalina.

Our home on Cebrian Street is holding up pretty well for being 70+ years old. I couldn't help but laugh as a tumbleweed blew across the road as I drove by. Brought back images of the tumbleweed forts we built by the side of the house to play with our Barbies (really!).

Some of the memories that came flooding back as I gazed at my childhood home included the chickens in our back yard that would fly-run squawking around the corner as soon as we opened the back door, no matter how quietly we tried to turn the knob. My rabbits in their hutches and me asking Mom and Dad on a freezing winter night if I HAD to feed them that night, asking “Cant it wait until tomorrow morning?” and my folks saying what they always said, “Do the right thing.”

The Christmas we gathered in a circle (including cousins Dan, Jim, Uncle Brick and Aunt Carol) to open presents. My brother Dave tore open his gift, unfolded the white tissue and promptly threw the box in the air, dumping its contents all over Mom who was wearing her best “dress-up” outfit, a red wood suit. Unfortunately for mom, the contents were horse manure, our parents’ clever way of saying Dave was getting what he wanted for Christmas - his own horse.

Now I'm in Honolulu under the historic “Hawaii Call’s” banyan tree. On the drive in from the airport, we drove by Tripler, the pink hospital on the hill overlooking Pearl Harbor, where Andrew was born. There’s Queen Medical Center where Tom entered the world on Labor Day (quite a sense of humor.). I remember watching the finals of the U.S. Open, thinking "This doesn't hurt that much. I can handle it," and that's when the doc gave me the Petocin.

I walked over to the Rainbow Tower of the the Hilton Hawaiian Village which reminded me of the last time my sons and I visited here - to compete in the Waikiki Rough Water Swim. Tom served as crew and Andrew beat me (by a lot) to the finish line - the noogie.

To top off my trip down Memory Row, the musician here at the Beach Bar at the Moana just started playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The boys grew up in Maui listening to Hawaiian music ... Brothers Cazimero, Hapa, Keilii Reichel. Tom surprised me by having Brother Iz's version of this song played at his and Patty’s wedding. As he walked me to the center of the floor for the “Mom’s Dance,” he smiled and said “Thought you’d like this.”

Tom was right. I did like it. And I like that its lyrics are poignantly relevant as I reflect on the 25 years spent in these two homes of New Cuyama and Hawaii – first where I grew up as a child, second where my two children grew up.

“Somewhere over the rainbow, Blue birds fly,

And the dreams that you dreamed of,

Dreams really do come true.

I see trees of green and red roses too

I'll watch them bloom for me and you

And I think to myself,

What a wonderful world.”

It is indeed a wonderful world, and I am so grateful for the many dreams which have bloomed and come true.

How about you? What have you been wanting to do? Maybe it's not going back to what you grew up - maybe it's to start your own business, write a book, give back to your community, get back into a hobby that brings you joy, head out on your own adventure.

Buddha said, "The problem is, you think you have time." Please understand, there's no present like the time - and no time like the present - to do more of what puts the light on in your eyes. What is something you'll do THIS week that makes you smile just thinking of it?

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Sam Horn, Founder/CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people create quality one-of-a-kind projects that add value for all involved. Her work - including her TEDx talk and books POP!, Tongue Fu! and Washington Post Bestseller Got Your Attention? - has been featured in New York Times, Forbes, INC and NPR and presented to clients such as Boeing, Cisco, Intel. Want Sam to share her inspiring insights with your organization? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com

there is no present llike the time - blue best

Is It Time to Put Yourself In Your Own Story?

Do you know what my son Tom said when I told him I was taking my business on the road for a Year by the Water? “So, you’re finally going to put yourself in the story.”

Wow. What an interesting and astute observation.

I'm not the only one who took myself out of my own story.

I encountered many people on my travels who were putting everyone else first, themselves last.

They wistfully talked about the dreams they’d put on hold.

Many said they’re so busy taking care of everyone else, they don't have the time or energy to take care of themselves.

They had bills to pay, kids to raise, projects at work, parents with health challenges …the list goes on.

Some seemed to think it’s selfish to do something – even once a week – that makes them happy.

Sound familiar?

One of the most important epiphanies from my Year by the Water is that doing something that puts the light on in our eyes is not selfish; it’s smart.

And we don’t have to quit our job, win the lottery or walk away from our obligations to do this. We can do something that puts the light on in our eyes even if it's once a month. Even if it’s for an hour or two.

It’s not indulgent to do more of makes us happy – whether that’s to curl up with a good book or get back into a hobby we used to love - it’s inspiring. It sets a precedent and gives the people around us permission and incentive to do the same.

What did you give up because you got busy or were told it was selfish?

What used to bring you joy you no longer have time for?

What did you abandon because you were told it "wouldn't pay the bills?"

Bring it back into your life.

It's not too late to become, as Charles Bukowski says, "the person you wanted to be before the world told you what you should be."

Trust that everyone wins when you take responsibility for doing something that lights you up.

You will never regret putting yourself back in the story of your life; you will only regret not doing it sooner.

put yourself in your own story

Life's Waiting. Wade in.

"The longer you wait for your future; the shorter it will be." - slogan on coffee mug the longer you wait for your future, the shorter it will be I was at a beach in Kauai over the weekend. A couple next to me said they'd been looking forward to getting into the ocean but it was "too cold." Meanwhile, a little boy waded in and started splashing around. He was clearly having the time of his life. The couple looked at each other, ditched their cover-ups, and were in the water with him a moment later. The moral of the story? Life's waiting. Wade in.

This theme of "initiating instead of waiting" has emerged as one of the most important lessons-learned of my travels. I remember meeting someone on the beach in Hilton Head, SC. and walking together for awhile. She was really curious as to what catalyzed My Year by the Water.

I told her my son Andrew had stopped me in my tracks and motivated me to re-think my habits by saying, "Mom, there's something about you I don't understand. You've created a life where you can do anything you want, and you're not taking advantage of it."

He was right. As much as I loved my work of speaking, writing, and consulting, my routines had been pretty much the same thing for 20 years. It was time to switch things up. I realized, the clock is ticking, not in a morbid way, in a motivating way."

I realized many of us wait for the perfect circumstances to do what we really want. We wait until we retire or until we have more money or time.

The problem with that? We'll never have more time than we have right now.

Plus, some of us wait to do what we want only to find that when we finally have the time and money, we don't have our health or we don't have the person we wanted to spend our time and money with.

I was also motivated by something my mom used tell me when I was procrastinating. She'd say, "A year from now, you'll wish you had started today."

All those catalysts were enough to get me off my "but's" ("But what will happen to my business? But what will I do with my house and all my belongings?") and set off on my Year by the Water which has been one of THE most rewarding experiences of my life.

How about you? What do you really want to do? Water you waiting for? Are you having the time of your life?

Someday, when you're looking back at your life, what will you wish you had done? What will you be glad you did? What would put the light on in your eyes?

To add inspiration, I'm sharing a few favorite "Set it in motion TODAY" quotes. Hope these motivate you to put your calendar where your values are and schedule in a date and start time so you stop waiting and start initiating more of what really matters to you.

1. "May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears." - Nelson Mandela

2. "If you don't go; you'll never know." - Robert DeNiro

3. "If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't; you'll find an excuse." - Jim Rohn

4. "Are you doing what you're doing today because it works; or because it's what you were doing yesterday?" - Dr. Phil McGraw

5. "Some people never initiate because no one tells them to." - Sam's dad

6 "Exhaustion is not a status symbol." - Brene Brown

7. "I have heard every excuse in the book, except a good one." - Bob Greene

8. "Life offers a second chance. It's called tomorrow." - t-shirt saying

9. "It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis." - M. W. Bonano

10. "You have a life to live. If you're constantly looking back; you're going to walk into traffic." - Jon Hamm

11. "Don't just follow your dreams; launch them." - Sam Horn

12. "The trouble is, you think you have time." -Buddha

13. "Everything you want is on the other side of fear." - Jack Canfield

14. "Once you've done the mental work, there comes a point you have to throw yourself into action and put your heart on the line." - Phil Jackson

15. "The mark of a successful organization (person) isn't whether it has problems; it's whether it has the SAME problems as last year." - John Foster Dulles

16. "What are you going to do?" "I was going to go upstairs." "No, I mean with your life." - dialogue from the movie The Graduate

17. "The scariest moment is always right before you start." - Stephen King

18. "To feel, think, love and learn; surely that is being alive and young in the real sense."- Freya Stark

19. One day you're going to wake up, and there won't be any time left to do the things you've always wanted to do." - Paulo Coelho

20. "Some people get stuck because they keep telling themselves stories about how stuck they are." - Pinterest post (unattributed)

21. "If you don't have a dream; how ya gonna make a dream come true?" South Pacific

22. "When you get a chance to sit it out or dance; I hope you dance." LeAnn Womack

23. "Life expands or contracts in proportion to our courage." - Anais Nin

24. "Nothing will work, unless you do." - Maya Angelou

25. "I shall tell you a great secret, my friend. Do not wait for the last judgment. It takes place every day." - Albert Camus

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Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert and TEDx speaker, is on a mission to help people create respectful, collaborative, one-of-a-kind communications that add value for all involved. Her work - including POP!, Tongue Fu!, and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? - has been featured on NPR and in the New York Times and presented to companies around the world including Boeing, NASA, Intel, ASAE, Cisco and YPO.