My first “mistake” is pursuing my dream was choosing a career that provided the least amount of expendable income – I became a teacher.
I say “mistake” because choosing that profession was not really a mistake. I felt like that was what I was meant to do and my years in teaching proved that to be true. At the very core of my being, I am a teacher. My real mistake was not managing the little income I had to make sure I had enough to pursue my dream.
From the time I decided I wanted to pursue my dream of meeting Elton John, at age 19, until 2007 – which was about 15 years, I did not manage money well at all. Knowing how to manage money is not hard, its the application that is difficult. There is a fine line between knowing and applying – if you don’t apply the knowledge, nothing changes.
I learned a hard lesson in 2007 – MONEY was the one thing that stood in between me and my dream. In 2007, a once in a lifetime event happened and I couldn’t go because I did not have the money. Elton John’s 60th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City. This was also the 60th time he had performed at MSG. Was I going to meet Elton John at this concert – probably not. But, for me, attending this concert was an event I should have attended as a fan of Elton John. It was, indeed an event for the ages and I should have been there. But, money stood in my way.
This event was a huge turning point for me in the way I managed money. I decided that I would no longer allow money to be the thing that stood in between me and my dream. I wanted to meet Elton John and the only way to do that is to go to the concerts. That takes money. So how do I make sure I have money?
At first, I thought I just had to make more money. That made sense, right? However, since I couldn’t manage the little bit of money I had, I couldn’t manage the more money I made. This was not a good solution to the problem. The solution came in learning how to manage the money I had with a plan AND actionable steps. But that didn’t happen until the end of 2009 when I finally hit financial rock bottom.
I had to come to the realization that removing all obstacles to pursuing the dream was the only way I was going to attain it. My two greatest obstacles were money and time, in that order. I also had to find a solution that worked for me and my family. That solution was Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. I learned how to set a goal, create actionable steps and make forward progress.
I realized the DEBT was the #1 thing in my way. $43, 544 worth of it, to be exact. If I got rid of that, I would have enough money to go see Elton John anytime I wanted to – I would never again miss out on an opportunity to pursue my dream.
And so, my number one reason for becoming and staying debt free was to have money to go see Elton John in concert – to have money to pursue the dream.
We became debt free in less than four years and on December 31st, 2013 I attended a “one in a lifetime” concert – Elton John at the Barcley Center in Brooklyn NY on New Year’s Eve! It was such an exciting moment and one of the best of the 36 concerts I have attended so far.
MY ARM WAS ON NATIONAL TV!!!!
I SAT AT ELTON JOHN’S PIANO!!!
So how do you overcome obstacles in the way of your dream?
First, you have to identify the obstacles.
Then, create a plan to overcome the obstacles.
Finally, follow the plan.
Three steps, that’s it. Sounds easy, right? It’s not. I’m here to tell you that it’s not easy. However, it is possible. Dreams don’t just “happen”, you have to go out and make them happen.
My story illustrates what is possible.
It seemed impossible to become debt free. It’s possible. It’s the reality.
It seemed impossible to see Elton John 36 times in concert. It’s possible. It’s the reality.
It seemed impossible to meet Elton John in person. It’s possible. It’s not yet the reality, but I am SO close I believe it will happen, one day.
I just have to keep applying practical steps to get there, practical steps to pursuing the dream.