What Does Jennifer Lopez Say About Following Your Dreams?

As a girl growing up in the Bronx, Jennifer Lopez once thought she would be a teller at the bank down the street from her house. Instead, 49 year old Lopez is a multi-talented superstar dancer, actress, singer and businesswoman. What are the secrets to her success, and how can J.Lo’s mindset tips help you reach your goals?

Believe in Your Dreams

Jennifer Lopez started taking acting and dancing lessons as a child, but she wasn’t sure she would ever leave her neighborhood. Sometimes she still feels like that little girl. She shares,  “...the Bronx seems so small. Like that was gonna be my whole life.”

She clung to her love of dance, but when she was 18 this love created a major challenge. After graduating from high school, Lopez’s mother expected her to go to college. Instead, Jennifer decided to work part time at a law firm while pursuing her dream to dance professionally.

The conflict got so bad that J.Lo moved out of her parents’ house and lived on the couch at the dance studio. At times, she was so low on money that she ate just a slice of pizza a day. She didn’t give up, though. Lopez believed in herself and her dream.

At 21, that belief paid off. J.Lo was cast as a Fly Girl on In Living Color, her first big break in dance and entertainment. Lopez kept at it despite the naysayers, and she was on her way to becoming one of the highest-paid Latina actresses in Hollywood.

How can you use it?

At 18, Lopez faced two different paths. The first path was to follow her heart and pursue dance full-time. The second was to meet her mother’s expectations by going to college.

You are the person who has to live your life, and ignoring your dreams to pursue other peoples’ dreams for you will not lead to fulfillment.

It can be very difficult to separate external expectations from your own goals and dreams. Really think about what you want and be brave enough to follow your own path, even if it’s different than the one that is expected.

When you know what you want, find a way to make it happen.

Cultivate Your Inner Voice

Now 49, J.Lo has learned to block out the critics. But early in her career, self-doubt was a constant struggle.

After breaking into the entertainment business on In Living Color, Lopez appeared in a number of TV shows and movies, working with well-known actors Robin Williams and Jack Nicholson.

Lopez’s next big break came in in 1997 when she landed the lead role in Selena.  The movie, a biopic about murdered Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla-Perez, was a hit, catapulting J.Lo into stardom. She was on a roll, releasing her first album On the Six just two years later.

But with the accolades came the critics. Lopez recalled, “I’m killing it, and then everybody’s like, ‘She can’t sing, she can’t dance, she can’t act, she’s just some pretty face or her butt is big’ or whatever they were saying about me and I started thinking, ‘Yeah, that’s true.'”

Despite the criticism, Lopez worked hard to keep her internal voice positive. One of the keys to her success is making sure her inner voice is the antidote to critics: “I think that, for me, the most important thing for me is not listening to all the outside voices, but making sure that the voice that I’m speaking to myself, that roommate is a kind roommate, is a good roommate, is someone that’s lifting me up...every single day,” Lopez said.

How Can you Use It?

Be aware of your inner voice! Sometimes we tell ourselves that we can’t do it, that we’re not good enough, that we’ll fail. And often we don’t even realize what we’re doing. Negative self-talk becomes part of the stories we tell ourselves. And those stories mean we’re defeated before we even start.

The good news is that the first step to changing your inner voice is recognizing that it’s there. When you find yourself thinking negatively about yourself or your abilities, make an effort to stop.

Then, turn around your self-talk. Instead of dwelling on your mistakes, think about your successes. Don’t focus on your weaknesses. Instead, recognize your talents. Everyone has different abilities - appreciate yours.

Self-defeating stories keep so many from achieving their goals, or even taking the first step. Don’t beat yourself before you start. Instead, cultivate a kind inner voice and get out of your own way.

Work Hard

No one would argue that Jennifer Lopez isn’t an incredibly hard-working superstar. She has over thirty film credits and has appeared in at least ten television shows. J.Lo has released eight pop albums since the late 90’s.

More recently, Lopez has appeared as a judge on reality competitions like American Idol. She even has her own highly successful fragrance line.

J.Lo is obviously not resting on her laurels. She’s not just an entertainer but a massively successful businesswoman.

How did she get here from the broke and homeless aspiring dancer she was at 18? She just kept working. When faced with criticism, Lopez told herself to just keep going.

“I just couldn’t allow myself to let that become who I was. I was like, ‘No, I’m gonna make another record, I’m gonna make another song, I’m gonna make another movie,'” Lopez said. “‘I’m a great actress, I’m a great singer, a great dancer, I’m great at this stuff! And I’m gonna keep going!’ And I did. And that’s all I did. I just kept going. And I just started working harder and harder than everybody else.”

How can you use it?

When you’re faced with criticism, trust your gut and just keep going. Successful people face plenty of obstacles and plenty of negative comments along the way. The key is to keep working and never give up. That’s it!

It’s important to choose a path that uses your inherent interests and talents. If you have a goal you believe in, don’t let yourself be deterred. Just keep working toward it and you will succeed.

Blaze your Own Path

At 18, Jennifer Lopez wanted to be a professional dancer. Thirty years later, she’s had a wildly successful career as a dancer, singer, actress and businesswoman. What can her accomplishments teach you about reaching your goals? Make sure your inner voice is kind, never stop working and above all - follow your dreams, wherever they may lead.