I’ve got the title line from The Doors’ song, “Break on Through to the Other side,” running through my head this morning. (Not the rest of the song, which doesn’t make much sense to me, just the one line.) The words seem to exhort me to keep trying, to never give up, and to break through any barriers in my way. “Break on through to the other side.”
Ask anyone in my family, and they’ll tell you that I work very hard. All the time. Because I love what I do—writing, teaching, being part of a community of artists—it doesn’t seem like work. A lot of the time, it feels like play. And the rest of the time, it’s more like focused effort. It’s my experience that focused effort, along with faith in my future and a bit of luck, helps me achieve my dreams. Without it, the best I will do is maintain the status quo. To break through to the other side takes energy and a bit of proverbial elbow grease.
Come to think of it, anything we want to be, do, or have, is always on the other side of some kind of barrier, whether psychological, physical, or imposed by someone else. For example, if we want to be healthier, our tendency to laziness or bad eating habits might form a barrier to change. If we want to change careers, money for college or family responsibilities might stand in the way. If we’re young, our parents or other adults might stand between us and our dreams. But when we want something so much that the desire burns in us at all times, we usually find a way. Or die trying. Because that’s part of human nature.
This week’s journaling prompts explore the ways we break through barriers in our lives.
- What do you most dream of being, doing, or having in the future that you don’t have today? Why do you want it, and what stands in your way?
- When you consider the barriers to achieving that desire, how do you feel? Where would you place yourself on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is helpless and 10 is empowered? Write about all the reasons you placed yourself on that number; include past experiences, beliefs, assumptions, and what you were taught when you grew up.
- Now, think back to a time in your life when you broke through to the other side of a barrier of some kind. Maybe you got your dream job, managed to overcome fear of public speaking, lost 100 pounds, purchased your first home, or learned to meditate. Whatever it was, write about the process you went through to achieve what you wanted. How long did it take? What did you have to do? Did you need help from others? Looking back, would you say it happened fairly easily or took a great deal of effort and determination?
- Review what you wrote for prompts #3 and #1. Does what you desire (prompt #1) seem more or less possible after writing about a previous success? What can you apply from your previous situation to achieving today’s dream?
- Brainstorm a list of things you’d have to do, or things that would have to happen, in order for you to break through to the other side. Circle the tiniest, easiest, most possible item. What would it take to make that one item happen? Can you break it down into even smaller steps? Is there something you could do in 5, 10, or 15 minutes, such as research colleges or find local volunteer opportunities? Write about your feelings in this moment.
- Imagine that you have achieved your dream. From that place of imagining, write a description of a typical day in your life.
- Because we’re always growing and dreaming, what’s next? Once you’ve achieved this dream, where might you go from there?
We all have different ways of dealing with barriers in our lives. Some of us scale them. Some of us crawl under. And some of us wait for someone to build a gate. There is no wrong or right way—only your way. How do you break through to the other side?