Throughout the better part of my life, I've heard the saying: “Ask and ye shall receive."
The idea that whatever we desire is just waiting on us to claim it through the words out of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts has been a welcome companion in good and bad times alike. However, like most simple steps, it was the hardest one to commit to—the total reliance on faith, God and energy. So, I first took my semi-commitment to social media because, as we all know by this point, social media is where we go to say the things that our close friends are tired of hearing.
I started to be upfront with the “world" about my desires with hopes that the Universe would respond to me and let me know I was on the right track. So I'd tweet this:
I half-believed it and half expected it to happen about five to ten years from now.
Fast forward three years and I am here: a working actress, a writer, well-traveled, and a boyfriend who—you guessed it—loves loves art and hip-hop. We're holding off on the kids for a while, but I have it; I have what I asked for. Now what? Often times, we arrive at our proverbial destination and have no idea what to do in order to keep climbing. We either become workhorses who have no time to enjoy the blessings we prayed for or we become complacent and forget that our dreams must be fed consistently.
So here are seven answers for the question, “Now what?"
Now that you've laid the foundation, it's time to build on it. Generalizing your dreams is not enough. You want to write a book? What kind? Do you want it to be a NYT bestseller? You want to own a business? Where? For how long? Do you want to be on the cover of Forbes when it's all said and done? Details will save you energy in the long run because you'll know what to focus on every step of the way. Distractions and wasted time are like poison for dreamers.
This is not the time to be bashful. You fought to be here, don't make light of your journey, and don't be afraid to share what you've learned. This also applies to tip one, ask God for exactly what you want. He knows your heart anyway, so why hold back for fear that you won't get it? Courage is such a huge part of success!
If you're worried about competing with the person next to you, you'll have less time to build your own empire. And trust me, they're just as concerned about tomorrow as you are. That's human nature. Your dreams, your story, your cornbread…it's yours. No one can take it from you. And the opposite is true: you cannot receive another person's blessings. If they have it, it's theirs, and it wouldn't fit you anyway.
Take Away the Ceiling
One of my favorite teachers would tell us to never aim for an A because, “Once you get that A, you'll feel like there's nothing left to learn." If you tell yourself that there is a goal you want to reach and make that goal the ceiling for your dreams—you'll miss out on your ability to keep growing.
Make a New List of Goals
This may seem like an obvious step, but I'm always shocked by how many people never think to keep dreaming bigger. Chances are, if you're traveling, researching, meeting new people, and learning all there is to know about your particular field, you'll discover new talents—use them.
Listen, nothing will feed your dreams better than a well-rested mind. Don't believe the “they sleep, we grind" narrative; running your body into the ground in the name of your dreams won't get you there any quicker. What it will do is slow up your progress. Sleep deprivation directly affects your central nervous system, aka the place where your ideas come from.
No, really. You must find time to live. Take some risks. Break some ties. Form some new relationships. Read some books. Spend one too many hours on Tumblr. Go to a museum. Post that selfie you were going to post, but then thought it was too much. Do absolutely nothing for an entire day. Whatever makes you feel alive, do it. Do not become so stifled by success that taking a step away from your work riddles you with fear of being left behind. This is very important for all of you creatives out there—the best thing you can do for your art is to be a well-rounded person with life experiences.
Cut yourself some slack.
Enjoy what you have right now and keep going!
Iman N. Milner is an actress/writer in Los Angeles. She hosts the podcast, Diary of a Working Actress on iTunes and can be seen as Yasmin on the series, Chef Julian. Keep up with Iman here.