Define Your Dream: Take Action, Sooner

Posted on February 13, 2017

What Catherine Smith dreams of, she does. From challenging herself to complete 52 bucket list items in 52 weeks to redesigning her life, her message is clear: take action on the life you want to live.


Time for Change

Catherine was working in an office when she realized she wanted something more: freedom. Freedom to travel and invest in relationships with her family. But before she could make the leap, an unexpected “dream job” offer came up.

She was faced with a decision: do what everyone expected of her and take the prestigious job or design the life she wanted.

"I just got frustrated with this whole idea of working to live, but never actually getting to take advantage of life.” — Catherine Smith

Catherine decided to follow her heart. So, she quit her job and set three goals for herself:

  1. Get out of debt
  2. Be in control of her schedule
  3. Have a flexible location

Pioneering a New Life

Accomplishing her goals meant finding freelance work. Catherine focused on jobs that would allow her to work from anywhere, even if it meant sacrificing income and working harder at times. Catherine found work doing everything from online administration, customer service and social media management to travel writing.

The flexibility of freelancing allowed Catherine to pursue her true passion: seeing people take action in their own lives. But to be authentic, she had to first lead by example. So, Catherine created a list of 52 things to accomplish in 52 weeks...and then invited everyone to follow along on her journey.

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Sooner Not Later To inspire other people to act on their own dreams, Catherine created a website and blog called Sooner Not Later. The day she launched the website, she also launched the challenge, and it quickly gained momentum. Whether she was climbing a volcano, traveling Europe or learning Italian, Catherine crossed each item off one by one and documented it on her website and social media accounts.

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Seeing her amazing adventures made people want to join her. But she didn’t just inspire her followers, she also connected with them personally. Whether it was a restaurant recommendation or potential contacts, people reached out to Catherine through social media during her travels.

Adventure Coaching

For Catherine, living her dream meant helping people live theirs. In addition to freelance work, Catherine created a new role as an Adventure Coach — to help people develop step-by-step action plans for their dreams.

“I found what I was most passionate about was helping people believe in themselves and take action.” —Catherine Smith

She tells her clients to start by getting specific. What exactly is the goal? Then, she tells them to break it down. What will it take to make this goal a reality? She encourages clients to identify possible roadblocks and create a plan of action to overcome them. And finally, she emphasizes the importance of holding yourself accountable, which may mean finding a partner to stay on track or setting a strict timeline.

A Life Worth Creating

Now, Catherine spends each day living the life she created, and she continues to work towards her goals.

“I don’t think there’s something special about me. I just said I want to take action. I wish more people would…because it’s not as hard as it seems.” —Catherine Smith

Without a set income, she works carefully and strategically to accomplish her goals. Her freelance positions include social media management, online administration, customer service and travel writing, and they all give her the flexibility to work from anywhere. When she’s traveling, she dedicates hours in the morning and at night to her work, giving herself the afternoon to explore her environment.

Spending more time on the road makes home that much more special for her. Whether it’s working in the park on a sunny day or babysitting her cousin's kid for a night, she dedicates time to doing the things she truly cares about.

Catherine’s Dream

How can you invest in your own life? That’s what Catherine’s 52-Week Challenge really represents. She took an unexpected path to create a life she was excited to live and, in doing that, became a source of inspiration for others. Now, people around the world are motivated not just to dream, but to do.

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We celebrate customers like Catherine Smith who challenge us all to dream big. How do you #DefineYourDream?

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Colleen Krieger, Senior Manager, Brand
Colleen Krieger is Senior Manager of Digital Brand Strategy at Capital One.

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These opinions are those of author. Unless noted otherwise in this post, Capital One is not affiliated with, nor is it endorsed by, any of the companies mentioned. All trademarks and other intellectual property used or displayed are the ownership of their respective owners. This article is © 2016 Capital One.