by Anne Marie Gazzolo
The first time we meet Bilbo he is in a rut. He has long abandoned his previous dreams of adventure for the safety of a mundane life. His Baggins side has overcome his Tookish bent for excitement. But after Gandalf and the dwarves upset his ordered life, his Tookish side gains more control. He begins to live, not merely to exist.
Are you in a rut too? Has your Baggins side taken over, but you have a Took inside that is dying to express itself? Do you realize that your dreams have risen in you because you are just as “chosen and selected,” as Gandalf says of Bilbo? Without abandoning your true responsibilities, what steps can you take to get out of your rut and embrace your dreams? Before you think that you do not have the time, money, energy, or whatever, to bring your life to life, let me tell you do. There are so many ways you can find time, and your energy level will rise as you pursue your passions and not just a paycheck. Do not pay attention to any internal or external critic that says you cannot do what you always wanted to. These voices come from what Steven Pressfield calls Resistance, a malevolent force that will do anything it takes to stop you. Read or listen to his marvelous books, The War of Art, Do the Work, and Turning Pro, in order to help you recognize and defeat this force against you. There are myriad weapons at its disposal. Many of its favorites may be already well known to you: fear of change and risk, procrastination, the self-delusion that ‘Oh, I’ll just look at Facebook/Twitter/whatever for a couple minutes’, phones that have you jumping to pay immediate attention to each ding that announces a new piece of spam has arrived, and voices that say ‘Get real! You can’t possibly be thinking you are or ever will be good enough/smart enough/rich enough to do that!’
Even if Bilbo and the heroes who followed him did not have to contend with Resistance’s more modern weapons, they certainly did encounter it in having to overcome their terror of stepping out to fulfill their callings and continuing on as the Road grew harder and darker. Follow their example! Start making baby steps now if that is all you can do to pursue your dreams that were once so vibrantly alive inside you. Get up early. Stay up late. Bring lunch from home. Do not go out for dinner. Stop watching TV and surfing the web for hours. Turn off your cell phone. There is so much time you can snatch away and put to better use! But you must make the conscious choice to do so, and become as determined to defeat Resistance as it is determined to defeat you. Fortunately, Pressfield notes there is Assistance as well, which are powerful forces ready to aid you in your struggle. Frodo and Sam especially discover this, and Gandalf, Aragorn, the Elves, and Faramir are already aware of this.
To help get you started out the door, as unfortunately Gandalf left for the West ages ago and the dwarves are also long gone, read Put Your Dream to the Test by John Maxwell and/or Michael Hyatt’s ebook, Creating Your Personal Life Plan and use them to write down specific dreams and set goals to achieve them. Gary Ryan Blair’s 100 Day Challenge is also another wonderful way to start.
Pressfield notes in Do the Work that even huge dreams can be broken down into several broad steps. Whatever it is, write it out in specific time-bound terms that are realistic and achievable. For example, I will complete the first draft of my book by…., I will lose … pounds by …., I will pay off my mortgage by…., I will save $…. each month to go on that trip to …. that I have always wanted to. Then write down the specific steps you will take each day to achieve this dream that will become reality due to your determination, self-discipline, and focus. For example, I will write … words or pages per day, I will stop snacking between meals/I will cook or take smaller portions/I will skip the bread basket and dessert, I will pay $… extra per month toward principal and interest, I will cancel my cable/newspaper/magazine subscriptions/I will stop going out for lunch/dinner/latte/whatever, to save money for my trip. One dream can help another. Cutting down on the amount of food you eat will not only help you lose weight but free up money you can save for paying off your mortgage or saving for that trip you want to take or that business you want to start.
Do not let fear stop you, as it nearly stops Bilbo more than once. The song of the dwarves stirs up his Tookishness, but then he sees a fire being lit and his Baggins side imagines it to be a dragon. He hears Thorin speak of the possibility of death on the adventure, and he completely freaks out. Your dream must be big enough to frighten your Baggins side but excite your Tookish side enough to give you the determination to see you through the fear. Let Bilbo and the heroes of the War of the Ring show you how to accomplish great things despite the fear they felt inside. Rather than collapsing in terror, you will soon find yourself revive as your dreams revive. You will gain courage, strength, and confidence as you surmount each challenge, just as Bilbo did.
If you need a Gandalf to get you out the door on the way to your great adventure, who can be that for you? The authors of the books I recommend certainly could, or you may know others. Make sure you also have a conspiracy of friends who will follow you through thick and thin. Choose carefully! Not everyone is ready or willing to eagerly encourage and nurture you and your dreams and may try to stop you. Select only those who will support you, then make yourself ready for that nudge out the door, or push yourself out. Use well the days! Adventure awaits!
Anne Marie Gazzolo is the author of Moments of Grace and Spiritual Warfare in The Lord of the Rings (WestBow Press, 2012), which also includes a chapter on The Hobbit. For more details and to order the book, please visit http://ow.ly/ez2dT. Sign up for her mailing list at www.annemariegazzolo.com and get a free copy of her ebook, Pathways Through Middle-earth: A Guide for Heart, about applying to your life the lessons taught by Hobbits, Wizards, Elves, Men, and Dwarves. Find her also at www.facebook.com/annemariegazzolo and www.pinterest.com/authorannemarie.