Happy endings are wished for and earned, not granted at random. Even for Disney princesses. Think about it: At the beginning of every Disney movie, the future princess is trying to get something, do something or make something happen, right? She belts a big “I want” song about her heart’s desire. She’s not content with the status quo, whether it’s being locked in a tower or staying on her home
island or living a provincial life. She has a dream, and she keeps reaching for that dream against all the odds.
That’s how Disney princesses get their happily-ever-after, prince or no prince, fairy godmother notwithstanding. They work for it. They resist the paths set before them and fight for what they want. Yes, these are just movies, but they teach us a real lesson about the power of knowing your dream and stepping off the preordained path.
In the real world, we’re (mostly) not singing to bluebirds or battling a magical curse, but we do tend to have a series of milestones we’re trying to hit on the supposed road to happiness. Too many of us follow that path without listening to our inner voice. We don’t take a moment to know ourselves or our dreams. We don’t have any “I want” songs to sing. It’s not until we’re pretty far down that path that we may realize we don’t even like it. Hello, midlife crisis.
The default path is not the only one available to you. The path to the best version of your life is out there – but only you can chart it. No one else can or will do it for you. If you want to raise the odds of living out your dreams, then you have to design your life on purpose. And only then will your money truly serve you in creating joy and abundance.
This doesn’t necessarily mean doing more, working more or constantly striving for more and more and more. It just means being in tune with what a good life looks like for you. Instead of wandering through your days with no clear sense of your values or living for other people’s values instead of your own, you can walk in alignment with who you want to be in that moment and who you want to become in the future.
If you’re struggling even to picture a big dream right now, that’s okay, and that’s normal. Most of us aren’t trained to see the whole realm of possibility. The specific steps on our predetermined paths might look different, depending on what we’ve been taught to see as “success.” But whether the steps are high school, college, career or settling down, getting married and having kids, there’s always something laid out. There’s no step for pausing and considering if we’re even moving in the right direction. There’s
no option to try out a different direction, or loop back and take a left turn, because those are seen as
failures. There isn’t often space for self-reflection at all.
It’s time to make that space for yourself. You can get more comfortable with trial and error, and learn what lights you up through experience. You can get attuned to that inner voice and discover what matters to you deep down. Because if you’re not living with intention, you’re living by default. Many people believe that they’ll be happy only when they’ve hit certain financial milestones, that if they work hard enough and save up enough, there will come a time when they’ll simply stop worrying about money. Only then can they think about things like dreams and goals. As a result, they end up with hollow victories; they’re making progress on their finances, but something still feels off. They don’t feel as satisfied as they thought they would.