I’ll tell you right now, the dream is absolutely free. Won’t cost you a dime. But the hustle? Oh that is going to cost you everything you have.

Tomorrow is an incredibly special day for me. As soon as the morning hits, that will mark three weeks of eating clean. It marks three weeks of cutting a substantial amount of calories, avoiding bad food, and working my butt off in the gym. I’ve lost 10 lbs, feel fantastic, and every single day I go at it again with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.

But it was hard. And I am about to make it a lot harder.

The first few days of this entire expedition were the worst. Cravings. Wanting to turn back. Doubt. Anxiety about the whole situation and some memories of how many times I have failed in the past all came up. But I didn’t look back and continued on. I set sail for that open ocean and now I am at the point of not even being close to seeing the shore. I am three weeks into open water, and I have another 79 days in front of me.

There is still a lot of sailing left to do.

Why is it about to get harder? As I have left the safety of the land and the shallower waters near the shore, I have started to enter into a place where the big waves occur. The monster ones. Those rogue waves that have rocked ships before. But as they say, a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. I am ready. And more importantly, I am commanding my crew with confidence and conviction.

Three weeks marks another special occasion for me. Besides seeing my body change in front of me every single day (yes I have done fist pumps on the scale in the morning) it will represent achieving a milestone that I have honestly missed every single time I have tried to attempt it. It is the first big step, one of many, and yet, I am still so proud.

I know what is in front of me and I am taking this pride there. I will be tested. I am sure that adversity is going to find its way to challenge me again and again, but there is something different about this go at it. I think it’s the fact that my mentality has changed. What is that mentality?

It’s not over until I win.

There’s no room for failure being the end product. This dream, this wonderful dream that has always been free, is testing me and costing me dearly. Not in a financial way, but more in the spirit of sacrifice. Sacrifices are being made in order to achieve this. These are sacrifices I knew I needed to make, but never made because they caused me to feel incredibly uncomfortable in the past.

As I go on, every day I learn how to do something a little bit better. I am not demanding perfection out of myself, however, I am demanding I give my best effort. While my body and mind feel different every single day, I do not walk into the gym until I have decided that “I am now a bodybuilder. I am a professional. I will do whatever it takes tonight in order to achieve my envisioned end result.” Then, I go to work.

Most walk right in and start lifting. I know better. 10 – 15 minutes of warming up on the cardio machine just to get my mind prepared and the blood flowing. 20 – 30 sets of different types of abs. A meticulous stretching routine and then I am ready. Sometimes, it’s not rare to have had 40 minutes go by and I haven’t even started the core of my routine yet. But thats the sacrifice I had to make in order to get ready to give myself the best chance to grow and stay healthy in the gym. That is an example of one that I have never made.

But the challenges don’t end there. The challenges continue. Forcing myself to do the cardio that is necessary, making conscious food choices at home, avoiding foods and beverages that I now will only deter me from my dream and take my a few steps backwards…these decisions and daily obstacles exist in full. They are constant daily reminders of what I need to do and that I need to make the right decision…one that keeps in the end in mind.

These are the costs of your dream. Many people say “don’t count the costs of your dream…just do it.” I don’t really agree with this. I think you should know exactly what you are getting into, as much as you can at the beginning, and go from there. Because honestly, if you know what it is going to cost and you just give up on it…it wasn’t your dream. It was your interest. Theres a great old saying that says “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results” (Kenneth Blanchard).

And that is another new mentality that I have brought into the gym. It is a mentality that has whispered to my heart every day, “Can you give a little bit more today?” The answer, as my experience builds, is always yes. I can always do something a little bit smarter, better, and with more conviction.

If you have a dream, you have to leave the harbor.

You will never accomplish what you want to if you stay near the shore in the protection of the surrounding land. You have to grab you crew and head out. You can only bet that Columbus was excited and yet scared out of his mind of traveling west. That much open ocean could probably drive you mad. But he did it. You have to do the same.

Your special stuff, your magic, is going to come when you start to get really uncomfortable.

And then…poof…you became something that you created in your mind. You did the most amazing form of alchemy…turning dreams into a reality. That is worth it’s weight in something more than gold.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project