11 things i've learned at the 4 year mark

song: woman by honne

read time: 9.5 minutes

yesterday was the 4 year mark.

the 4 year mark of relentlessly pursuing dreams, throwing caution to the wind, and all with reckless abandon.

in truth, i’ve been pursuing dreams since i popped out of the womb, but yesterday was the mark of something special and unique. yesterday was the four year mark of lou, my best friend, and i working together in business (while living on opposite sides of the country). here’s the cliff notes to the past four years— we started a hashtag, created a blog, registered as an official company, invited strangers to join us on humanitarian trips to south america, hosted parties in the red light district for victims of sex trafficking, helped rescue women out of the sex trade, wrote a lot of blogs, posted one too many selfies, spent countless hours on phone meetings, stopped everything we were were doing, put a pause on dreaming and working, dreamed again, named the dream wild hearts co.

i wish we logged all the hours lou + i have spent on the phone — so we could do the whole

X hours on the phone.

X trips to see each other for in-person meetings.

X trips to ecuador with strangers.

but whatever, i wasn’t thinking about that four years ago.

what i can tell you though is this — the things that i’ve learned in the past four years. maybe you know my story, maybe you know our story, maybe you don’t. whatever angle you’re reading from— i really want you to know this: it wasn’t always rosy. these days, it’s so easy to see someone hit the X mark in building their business and think “dang! they made it! and it’s been so easy for them.” okay, maybe you don’t think thatbut that’s what i always used to think. i am not going to lie to you — we’ve done some pretty amazing things while building our company. we’ve been able to travel around the world, see magazine articles written about us, celebrated big milestones and collaborations, laughed alot, and virtually popped a lot of champagne bottles (thanks to emoji’s!) but the road hasn’t always been easy. there were some tears, moments of doubt, and wondering “why the heck am i even doing this?” getting to your dream is kind of like driving up a mountain or driving along the 101 — there are some of the most breathtaking scenes, but also some pretty blah places scenes along the road that are less notable.

but that’s not the point of this article— the point is the eleven points below. eleven things that i’ve learned over the past four years. eleven things that maybe you can take and use to help you get further to where you want to be and go.

so, here we go —

  1. use what’s in your hands (even if it’s a hashtag). refuse to get caught up in the game of “if i just had _________” i’d be more successful. right now, in this moment, you have everything you need to get started in making your dreams come true. be faithful with what you have, nurture it, and let it grow. when we started building coast to coast (what is now wild hearts co.), we didn’t have an audience. we didn’t have a blog. we didn’t have an instagram account (or a snapchat). we had a hashtag (and not even that, cause you can’t technically own a hashtag). but we felt like we were queens of the world for having a hashtag. we appreciated it + used it. that’s why it grew. that’s why it became what it was and what it is now. stop looking for something bigger, more grand. what do you have in your hands right now? maybe it’s a skill, maybe it’s an idea, maybe it’s a friendship, maybe it’s something else — whatever it is, allow yourself to discover how you can use it to push towards your dreams.

2. be inclusive. cool kids + cool ideas — they all have one thing in common: they include people. whatever you make, include people. no one likes cliques or to feel left out, so create a space where people feel included and free to be uniquely them.

3. believe in your ideas. this whole journey has been less about us having genius ideas and more about the fact that we believed in them with our whole heart. i am not even sure if some of our ideas were really that cool, but we got other people to believe in them too because we believed in them. no one could talk us out of them. if you want your ideas to make an impact in this world, you have to believe in them. there are going to be times when everyone hates the ideas and you have to sell them on it. and you will, if you believe in them with everything in you. the real secret in life is that you can make any idea work (and thrive) if you decide to believe in it.

4. stay faithful to your dream. gosh, so many times i felt like people tricked me into the whole dreaming thing by not telling me that pursuing your dreams would be hard. i always heard about the breathtaking success stories, but a couple years ago (when i really needed it) no one was talking how pushing towards their dream was a struggle. not to burst your bubble or anything, but working towards your dream is going to be hard sometimes. and just because it’s hard doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be fighting for it or that it’s the wrong thing. it just means that you’re human experiencing some human things and human feels. yeah, sometimes, people get to their dreams because of luck or who they know — but a lot of times it was because they decided to stay faithful to their dream against all odds. stay faithful to your dream. it’s not going to let you down, so don’t give up on it.

5. it’s okay if every idea doesn’t work — keep thinking. part of me wishes that i could say that each and every idea i’ve had for coast to coast and wild hearts has taken off and flourished — but the truth is, it hasn’t. in fact, i have evidence of it sitting in my closet. when building coast to coast, we really wanted to start selling t-shirts. we collaborated with an amazing illustrator, got tee’s printed, and well, they didn’t sell. the idea didn’t thrive, but that was okay. we didn’t let that get us down. we just came up with another idea. months later, we were leading international humanitarian trips. who knew— people would rather take the risk of traveling to foreign country with us than buy a t-shirt from us. if the idea you have isn’t working, be okay with moving on. there’s more ideas out there that will align with who you are and what you are creating. make the decision that you are an idea person and you are never going to stop coming up with ideas.

with that said, number 6 is very appropriate…

6. it’s okay for your dream to change. when we started out four years ago, our company was named coast to coast central. we used fashion as a channel to inspire, challenge, and empower women to pursue their dreams and fight for the freedom of others. if you would have asked me what my dream for the company was, i would have told you — “i want to see us being the leaders in the both humanitarian + fashion.” i would have told you about the fashion line we wanted to create, the boutique, the magazines, and the rescue homes we wanted to build. last summer, sitting in the middle of the world (literally!), we realized — “this isn’t our dream anymore.” the core of our dream remained the same— we wanted to inspire, empower, and challenge women to pursue their dreams and fight for the freedom of others. but the platform in which we did it was changing. we were growing as people, and we no longer cared about the fashion part in the same way (don’t get me wrong, i still love zara. you know me.) our dream was shifting and that was okay. in the same way that you grow as a person, your dream grows. as you develop, your dream develops. remember this: it’s okay if your dream is changing. you are a human who is constantly evolving — it’s natural for your dream to follow suit. allow the shift to happen. you’ll thank yourself later. (one year later, after lou and i gave ourselves permission for our dream’s platform to change, we are so incredibly thankful. wild hearts co. is our style. it matches who we are as people + fits us so well.)

7. essentialism! i am just going to steal greg mckeown’s book title for this — because he said it best and you need to read his book. so there. the summary: focus on one thing, stop spreading yourself so thin. you want to see your dream grow? narrow down your focus. go google “essentialism graphic” — the illustration of energy will help you realize that you only have so much energy. when you’re giving energy to 10 ideas, none of them are getting the best of you or really growing for that matter. but when you focus your energy on one thing, that idea— it gets everything! that idea is destined to make waves in the world (in the most epic way).

8. forgive the past, focus on the future. whether it’s yourself or someone you work with, forgive the past. if you’re still holding on to memories of how things used to be, the habits of yesterday, the wrongdoings that were already made right — then you’re doing yourself, your dream, and your team an injustice. if you want to soar into the future, you have to let everything from the past go.

9. it’s about the individual. we live in a world that’s all about the numbers. we’re obsessed with how many followers we have on instagram and making sure that our numbers wow people. what if we stopped focusing on the numbers and focused on the individual? i think everything would change. here’s how i see it, and so far— it’s proven itself as true— if you care about the numbers, you’ll never be able to impact individuals. but on the flipside, when you care about the individual, you’ll be trusted with thousands.

which brings me to…

10. start small, end big. if you can’t make your idea work with a small tribe of people, then maybe it’s time to rethink your idea (or your methods). everything great starts small. the biggest movements our world has ever known, started with a small group of people believing in an idea. in the words of my dad, “do not despise the days of your small beginnings.”

11. don’t follow trends, follow your ideas. trends are a trap. as george lois says, “in any creative industry, the fact that others are moving in a certain direction is always proof positive, at least to me, that a new direction is the only direction.” be a culture shifter and pave a new path and direction of doing things.

okay, that’s it. eleven things. i have more for you, but you’ll have to wait til i publish a my book (tba — actually tbw (to be written)). we’re all in this journey of our chasing our dreams together— we all have something inside of us that we want to see come to life. let’s commit to not stop fighting to see our dreams come true. we can do this.

to my sweet lulu, thanks for sticking by my side through the last four years. thanks for being my best friend, my other half, my business partner, and my #samepage girl. thanks for having grace for me, for believing the best in me, and loving me unconditionally. we’re building an empire. cheers to many more years of making dreams come true.