Dreaming and Achieving

Posted by Kristin Beale in Life After Paralysis on June 13, 2022 # Lifestyle
Kristin Beale

I made a new friend last week while I was riding my handcycle. She asked me what I do for work that allows me to ride my bike at 1 pm on a Tuesday afternoon. I told her that I’m an author, and it’s my dream job.

“Wow,” she said. “How did you get into that?”

It was close to 90 degrees outside, and we were both sweating, so my answer was much too long. In summary: I graduated from college with a Clinical Psychology degree. From there, I got a job at the YMCA, then a law firm, then a bank. In between clients and after work every night for a few years, I finished my first book, Greater Things, then took the leap to follow my passion full-time. I’ve written 3 books since, publish a weekly comic strip, and my hustle hasn’t slowed down in over 6 years. I work three times more than I did when I had a corporate job, but it has literally never felt like work.

We had only just met each other, and it was way too hot outside for my long answer, but I’m nothing if not long-winded. In hindsight, I could have summed it up:

“I followed my far-flung dream of becoming an author. I put in the effort and saw it through, despite how impossible it felt.”

I’m not telling everyone to quit their jobs to become authors (please, don’t), but I am telling you to dream big, then get after it. If you work for something hard enough, impossible and far-flung can turn into achievable ­and within reach. Setting and working toward a goal helps by giving your every day some direction; a fresh perspective on what’s important in your life; and a sense of control of your life. So, what are the steps to reaching your goals? I’m glad you asked.

Imagine your future. Take some time to think about what you want your life to look like. Consider your passions, what makes you happy, and where you want to be in 10 years. Whether your goal is to make $100k or to help orphaned animals in the city, focus on something that will make you proud and fulfilled once you reach it.

Set goals you can control. If your goal is based on someone or something outside of your control, you won’t be able to control whether or not you achieve it. Be realistic about what you’re responsible for. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, over and over: can’t depend on others to accommodate my timeline. Nobody cares about my goals more than me.

Write it down and post them up. A visual reminder of your goals will make them more tangible, as well as be a reminder. There is merit to the expression “keep your eyes on the prize.” In my case, my prize is faster wound healing and protecting my remaining kidney. Eating 75g of protein per day is my vehicle to reach those goals, so I have a piece of paper on my refrigerator to remind me of protein-packed meal supplements.

Break it down, then take action. Working on my protein example, I break down my 75g goal into smaller parts: put an egg on my avocado toast in the morning, drink protein water at lunch, eat meat for dinner, etc. By breaking our goals into smaller parts, they become more tangible and less intimidating. Keep in mind there will be obstacles and every day won’t be your best. Have patience with yourself. Greatness takes time, and you’ll get there.

Be accountable and put an expiration on it. I keep a running To-Do list to give direction to my days and keep me on track. Sounds productive and mature, right? Yes, until you sit down and look at what’s on the list: the same chore, carried over from week to week. I have a few right now: get an oil change, ride my FES bike, and pump up my wheelchair tires. Maybe writing them out here will be the accountability I need.

What is something you dream about and have yet to pursue? What’s stopping you? Relatable, I think, the past few years have brought on a lot of new things for me: realizations about myself, changes, and goals. I’ve been able to achieve a few, but I’m only human: I haven’t had my oil changed yet, and my tires still slide around with the brakes on, but I’ve ridden my FES bike at least 2 times per week since I set the goal last June. Those are my tiny baby steps, but it’s okay – I’ll just add it to my list next week.

Kristin Beale is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic book, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt at https://kristinbeale.com/. Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.