Many of us dream of writing a book, making a film, exhibiting our drawings, paintings, photos or even starting a new business. But how many of us (whether we’ve been through the NLP journey or not) actually follow through to make those dreams come true? And if we are fortunate enough to go through the NLP journey as Practitioners and Master Practitioners, what drives some of us to fully apply and practice what we’ve learnt and experienced while the rest of us struggle to move beyond our comfort zones?

When I look back at my own personal journey, I think I could have easily fallen into the stuck in the comfort zone camp. Ever since I was a kid I’d always wanted to write a book – so much so that I remember childhood moments when I’d create my own ‘books’ out of a pile of paper, some coloured pens plus a pair of scissors. Back then I dreamt of writing best-selling novels and as I grew up I made various attempts to get started but life always seemed to get in the way, or I got bored, or I suffered from writer’s block or I simply didn’t have the will-power to keep going. Years went by and my comfort zone of dreaming of being an author while doing absolutely sod all about it became more and more familiar and all the more comfy. In the end it became a bit of a running joke as I joined the countless others who’d go gooey eyed and wistfully say: “oooo, I’d love to write a book.”

And then ‘the NLP’ happened! Like many that have been on the journey before me, doing my Practitioner followed by my Master Practitioner was life changing. Within the space of three years I finally began to experience a life where my past no longer had to rule my present. And within that time, amongst other wonderful things, I married my long-term partner, I stopped doing the work I no longer enjoyed doing, I started my coaching practice, I became my own boss and yes…I wrote a book and got it published.

So what’s the difference that made the difference? What drove me to really get serious about writing this time round? Not surprisingly, it all boils down to what I’d learnt on Practitioner: I’d created a well-formed outcome for myself with a truly compelling reason why I absolutely needed to write my book. And then, as a friend of mine summed it up beautifully and succinctly, I “decided to do it.” For me, at that moment in time, my compelling reason was that I needed something tangible (an actual ‘product’) that I could use to raise awareness and promote what I do. That was the one thing that made me carve out the time I needed and fully dedicate myself with as little distraction and interruption as possible to do the research, write the manuscript, find the right publisher, get it published and then promote it.

So for any of you reading this who’ve been dreaming of creating but haven’t got round to it yet – here are some tips that might help you get started:

1. Be clear and honest about what you want

In my case, I knew I wanted to write a book and I was also clear about my expectations. The book was an awareness-raising/promotional tool first and foremost and so far (although it’s early days yet) it’s certainly serving that purpose. It’ll be great if it sells well but I never intended it as a big revenue earner. Some of you may want to monetise your dreams, others may want to just get it out there to be shared. Knowing the actual purpose of what you’re creating gives the whole creative process a lot of the momentum it needs.

2. Have a compelling reason to create

If knowing the actual purpose of what you want to create gives the creative process its momentum, your compelling reason provides the turbo power. As I’ve mentioned above, my compelling reason is what kept me going. Knowing that I’d eventually have a useful tool to raise awareness of/promote what I do is what drove me into my office to work on my manuscript on days and weekends when I could think of a thousand and one other things I’d rather be doing.

3. Take action

Once you know what you want and you have your compelling reason, make a commitment and take a step towards your goal. Not later, not tomorrow, not next week or next month – right now! Even if it’s something as simple as noting down next steps, jotting down ideas or thinking about how you can fit the creative process into your schedule, taking these initial incremental steps will help build the right momentum and of course signal to your brain that you mean business.

4. Be precious about your time

However much time you’ve said you’ll dedicate to the creative process, make sure you honour it. By that I mean if you’ve said you’ll spend five hours a day twice a week creating something, then don’t waste that time checking emails (they can wait), surfing the web (unless it’s genuine research), catching up on social media (that can definitely wait!) or any of the other things you’ve cleverly created as ‘valid’ distractions. Let your loved ones know what your creative schedule is and ask them to support you in keeping it. At the same time, be sure to pace yourself. If you know you’re momentarily ’stuck’ and nothing’s flowing, take a proper break and break state.

So there you have it. For those Practitioners and Master Practitioners amongst us, we’re simply putting what we’ve learnt into practice and for those of you who’re considering NLP, go on, do it. You never know what dream you’ll finally make come true!

Jackie Mendoza is an ITS alumni. Her book “Starting Again – how to rebuild your life when relationships change or end” is released in April 2015 and is available for pre-order now on Amazon