By Natalie Rivera

… no one will tell you about reaching your potential and living your dreams.

No more butterflies and rainbows and singing Kumbaya.”

My deepest fear is to be overflowing with the manifestations of my dreams and feel unfulfilled.

To be surrounded by people I value and feel alone.

To have a life full of activity and feel empty.

To have a life that is unrecognizable but still see the same sad eyes staring back at me in the mirror. 

I have a tendency toward worrying, catastrophic thinking, self-judgment, attachment anxiety, self-sacrifice, resentment, and compassion blindness. But, I also have absurdly big dreams and high expectations for my life. I am my biggest obstacle.

Despite this, I’ve created a highly successful lifestyle business doing what I love. I have a wonderful husband who is my best friend and business partner. We’ve been through hell and back together, and our curses have turned out to be blessings. I have had to wrestle my demons. In fact, I still am.

I tell you this so that I can tell you the truth: my success isn’t about what I have created with my business or that I live at the beach and make my own schedule. My success is about what I’ve done to develop as a person along the way.

It’s time for someone to tell you the truth. It might as well be me.

Going for your dreams is really f-ing hard.

Living authentically, releasing the need for approval, and disappointing others to be true to yourself is really f-ing hard.

Making decisions that leave behind everything you know, including the tightly held beliefs of who you thought you were, is really f-ing hard.

Making decisions to accept the unacceptable, stick with it through the impossible, and continue to believe that your dreams are possible is really f-ing hard.

No one tells this truth. This truth doesn’t sell books or courses or seminar tickets.

No one wants to hear that the only path to their liberation is through the deep, dark, messy internal torture chamber they’ve been spending their entire life trying to avoid, repress, and pretend doesn’t exist.

They tell you to hang your affirmations in the mirror and remind yourself who you want to believe you can be. They don’t tell you that beyond the post-it-note you would have to gaze honestly into the eyes staring back at you terrified at what the mirror of truth will reflect.

They tell you that the secret to happiness is making money, having freedom of time, traveling the world, writing your book, typing away on your laptop while sitting on an idyllic beach.

They don’t tell you that no amount of money will change how you feel about yourself. No amount of time will give you the feeling of freedom you’re looking for.

And, that image of working on a laptop at the beach is an illusion – not because you can’t achieve it but because it is an empty concept. I once had that image on my vision board. I can speak from experience that the glare of the laptop while sitting by the beach makes it impossible to see anything. Sitting in a beach chair or on the sand using a laptop gives you a terrible kink in your neck. The truth is that if you can get 15 minutes of glory trying to pull this fantasy off, you’re lucky. I made it 10 minutes.

That’s the thing; the dreams we’re sold are like false idols. The money, the freedom, the lifestyle—none of it will save us from ourselves.

No one wants to talk about what it really looks like to develop as a person, overcome obstacles, and live your truth.

But I can no longer just teach ideas that may inspire or motivate temporarily. I can no longer provide tools and process that will help people better their lives and get results when I know that those external results will NOT get them what they truly want – freedom, fulfillment, a deep feeling of worthiness.

I know it’s time to share the hard truth of what it’s like in the trenches of a dysfunctional human mind doing its best to live life to the fullest.

No more sugar coating the B.S., like a cat turd in a candy shell.

No more butterflies and rainbows and singing Kumbaya.

Here is what it really takes to reach your potential and live your dreams:

  1. Self-awareness: Sitting in silence and solitude and becoming highly-tuned to what is going on inside of your mind and heart.
  2. Stoicism: Witnessing situations and your automatic reactions and then directing your thoughts to steer your emotional reaction.
  3. Self-honesty: Committing to never denying how you really feel about something ever, ever again. Then, feel it, deal with it, and heal it.
  4. Unconditional happiness: Learning how to create the emotional states you want regardless of circumstances. Swallowing the pill that you CAN be happy right this very moment and you do NOT need any of those circumstances you demand to change first.
  5. Empowerment: Determining what you can and can’t do about a situation and then doing everything within your power and accepting everything that is not. (Consult the Serenity Prayer.)
  6. Purpose: Aligning your goals, decisions and actions in service of utilizing your gifts, talents, and passions for the purpose of a mission greater than yourself.
  7. Growth mindset: Believing that your intelligence, abilities and traits are NOT fixed and that you can learn and grow in any area. (Don’t believe this? Start here.)
  8. Deliberateness: Being deliberate with your time by setting goals and making plans. Check in daily and set intentions. Don’t get distracted with other people’s nonsense. Get familiar with your avoidance mechanisms and STOP THEM.
  9. Dream: Deciding what you really want, not what you “should” want or what is practical. Stop suffocating your dreams, stop living others’ rules, and allow yourself to dream.
  10. Tenacity: Believing that everything is figureoutable. Stick-to-itiveness in the face of obstacles and resistance, which are a given.
  11. Banish B.S.: Reflecting on and dissecting your belief systems (b.s.). Identifying where you inherited your mind viruses. Question their validity. Get other people out of your head. Stop “shoulding” on yourself.
  12. Detox: Removing toxic people from your life. Be VERY careful who you get involved with in a way that keeps you tied to them. If it is too late and you’re already stuck with an energy vampire the rest of these become even more important.
  13. Playfulness: Finding humor and play and fun in everyday life. Avoiding taking yourself or life seriously.
  14. Virtues: Living by your deeply held core virtues, values and principles. First, know them. Then, make every decision based on them.
  15. Letting go: Releasing what no longer serves you, whether it’s people, places, jobs, businesses or beliefs. Rewrite your story and let go of old identities and roles that aren’t who you really are.
  16. Decisions: Making hard choices. Making fast decisions. Never leaving it to chance, allowing someone else to decide for you, or making no decision and so missing your chance.
  17. Self-care: Putting the oxygen mask on yourself first. Take extreme care of your body and mind. You can do everything else on this list and this one thing can derail you.
  18. Discomfort: Embracing uncertainty, disappointment, rejection, failure and guilt. Accept the discomfort and do it anyway.
  19. Non-attachment: Being willing to pivot and adjust course. Don’t hold on to notions HOW your dreams and goals should unfold.
  20. Optimism: Committing to always seeking to see the good. Orienting toward possibilities and hope and away from pessimism and limited thinking.
  21. Sensemaking: Learning to discern truth and reality. Don’t get sucked into false realities, drama, conspiracies, doubt, or the lure of advertisements and propaganda.
  22. Education: Continuing to learn and grow, indefinitely.
  23. Assessment: Checking in with your progress toward your goals. Do this routinely. Amend plans when needed, but never attempt at giving up on your dreams. You can’t. They’ll eat you alive.
  24. Spirituality: Seeking a higher-order perspective of life. Develop faith in something bigger than yourself.

As Anthony Robbins says, there is a difference between the science of success and the art of fulfillment.

“Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.”

I can’t give anyone the steps to creating their dreams or finding fulfillment.

The one thing I can do is share the truth of what I find about what it really takes to stay on my path.   Never stop dreaming beyond the horizon of what appears possible for you from where you stand today.  Never stop growing into the person you’re meant to become along the path to your dream.

Natalie Rivera is a firestarter, speaker and entrepreneur. She is passionate about empowering others to GET REAL and live authentically. After a decade of living a life that wasn’t hers and developing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Natalie let go of everything and completely transformed. Through her journey to healing she rediscovered her true self and greater purpose—to inspire others to transform their lives. Natalie “retired” from the rat race at 24, put herself through school as a freelance designer, created a non-profit teen center, and later created Transformation Services, Inc., which offers motivational speaking, curriculum development, life coaching, event management, and publishing. She is also the Publisher of Transformation Magazine. Visit

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