The truth is, there are a lot of unhappy people in this world. There are a lot of people that would drastically change their lives if they won the lottery tomorrow. They’re working jobs they aren’t passionate about, all so they can work for the weekends and their four weeks vacation a year. Considering how much of our lives are spent working, many people end up wasting over half of their lives doing something that they don’t even enjoy doing. Is this really a recipe conducive with happiness? If you’re a very simple-minded person, then maybe that is enough. Maybe you’re perfectly content with the status quo at best. But a lot of these people probably wish they were doing something else. At some point along the way, they had a dream, a vision of something different. Maybe it was something they had in their heads ever since childhood, or maybe it was something that developed in high school or university, something they always had in the back of their mind that they would love to do, but they never went for it. They never took any action, eventually the idea faded away, leaving a small scar of regret in the process. Most often the thing that holds them back is fear. Not only just fear of failing and venturing into the unknown without any security, but also the fear of succeeding. People worry they won’t be able to handle being very successful, or maybe they feel they don’t deserve to be successful. Almost like they see people who want to be hyper successful as too cutthroat and greedy – prepared to steal money from the masses and waste it on fast cars and large mansions on the beach.
On account of dreams, I’m not really talking about those wild childhood fantasies of being an astronaut or a rock star, or even a professional athlete. I’m talking about finding something in your work that stirs your soul and gets you excited to get up every morning.
I had an interesting journey in my own life, how I faced my fears and started walking the path in the direction of my dreams. I grew up in a very affluent neighbourhood, a place where kids grow up and do something similar to what their parents do, or they become doctors, lawyers, or accountants. It was the type of place that you would tell your dream to someone, and they would look at you like you were from Mars. They would think you had lost your mind, because people were brainwashed to be “realistic”. Dreams to them were fairy dust, balderdash; the type of things we grow out of in adolescence. You were supposed to get a “job” and leave your passion as a hobby. It was a place where success is designed and defined by those people walking the straight and narrow paths. Those crazy enough to chase a dream and follow their passions are seen as wildcards, irrational, intent on living their lives broke, living in some basement shack in the scuzzy part of town. This is because they don’t think they can be that example, the example of what’s possible when you dedicate yourself to a big goal and take serious action. For me, my childhood dream was to become an artist and work in the entertainment industry. Something that I only came back to in my twenties, but is now the path that I’m on, and while it’s a definite struggle at times, the energy, excitement, and joy I feel inside myself, is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before.
So here are my tips on how to approach facing your fears and start chasing your dreams:
1. You have to love it: If you’re going to make a bold move in your life, you have to make sure you’re in it for the right reasons. If you want to be rich, or you want to be famous, you will never be successful. Well maybe you’ll be successful, but you’ll never be truly happy. This is because you were chasing success for your ego. You have to chase a dream because of how it makes you feel on the inside. It has to be something that you do and it literally makes you manic because you’re so excited. I know for myself, as a writer, whenever I find just the right words for something, I literally skip across the room to the other side and back, and often I don’t even know that I’m doing it while it’s happening. You also have to love it because it’s going to be very difficult. It’s going to be a constant battle but by being in love with your work, you will succeed because you’re in it for the right reasons, and you’re probably prepared to stick it out for as long as it takes. Even doing the work for free for years until you catch a break. Besides, becoming financially successful doing something you love doing is the ultimate dream. There’s a reason why it’s the ultimate place to get to, because it takes that much work, work that most people aren’t willing to put in.
2. You have to have a plan: The best way to mitigate your fear is with extreme strategy and planning. By this I mean goal setting as well as creating a vision. The sooner you envision your dream as a goal, and then break that goal down into specific parts; it becomes instantly less scary and more attainable. To compliment your goals, you need to begin creating your vision. In my opinion, the most effective strategy for doing this is through creating positive mental affirmations. Before you go to sleep every night, and when you wake up in the morning, spend fifteen minutes creating a picture of what your world is like when you achieve your goals. Then speak aloud, positive affirmations to yourself, something in line with your goals that begins manifesting qualities in yourself that you’ll need to reach your goals. The bottom line is that if you venture into the jungle (in pursuit of a big dream) without a plan you will get nowhere, you will end up tangled in the vines, frustrated and wanting to turn back. Goals, unwavering optimism, and enthusiasm will be your machete to hack away at all your obstacles along the way.
3. Live your life; not the life your parents want for you: I know from my upbringing, the fear that deterred a lot of people from lofty ambitions and dreams was lack of security. It’s the reason why a lot of people ended up casting aside their passion projects and took the graduate school acceptance, or high-paying job because it ensured them of a particular income bracket. You have to silence the voice of your peers and your parents and really look inside yourself, what do I want to do with my life? If it were only up to me, what would I decide for myself? Whatever vocation or life you choose for yourself, you’re the one that’s going to have to life it, day in and day out. Make sure you choose something on your own merit, not something that you were forced into from pressure and expectation. In pursuit of that dream, or that goal, you may have people from your inner circle that don’t agree with you, or don’t fully embrace what you’re doing. So you need to be prepared for that. The way you handle it is by proving yourself with happiness and success. They will also slowly begin to come around once you prove that this is much more than a spontaneous idea-of-the-moment and something you really love and are committed to.
4. Be prepared for a long road: This goes back to the point about having to love what it is you’re doing. You have to, because big success doesn’t come overnight. And if it does come overnight, it will be fleeting and won’t last because you won’t have obtained the necessary skills to get to that level. Many life coaches will refer to this “road” as an “apprenticeship”. You have to be prepared to live this out in pursuit of your dream. If you want to be an artist, it will take you logging and grinding out the hours, pounding on the craft (that whole Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours business). On top of that, there’s the amount of studying, seminars, workshops, sessions with mentors, needed to occupy your extra time. It’s going to be a long road because it separates the people that really want it bad enough. Which again, is why you have to be it for the right reasons. You have to be working towards a greater purpose, something that’s bigger than yourself. If you accurately understand how long it will take you to accomplish something, and the difficult nature of achieving a goal, as well as you’re prepared for a period in your life when you’re going to be grinding and struggling, then you have what it takes to achieve something big in your life.
5. Are you willing to make the sacrifice? You have to address how big of a dream (goal) you’re pursuing and decide what sacrifices you will have to make in your life and if you’re willing to make them. For example, if your dream is to graduate from nursing school, then you will have to put in a lot of hours studying, probably monitoring how often you see your friends and go out and party. If you want to create a million dollar business in an industry that you know nothing about, that will probably require more of you. If that’s your dream, you may not have time for relationships; perhaps you’ll lose touch with friends from secondary circles and have to donate the majority of your spare time to self-development and studying that industry. It’s really important that you take a look at the magnitude of your goal and decide if it’s worth it to you. Once you make that decision, you become a force of self-worth and assertion. You begin to inspire others to take action in their own lives and start doing the things they actually want to do. Your time becomes valuable, and in turn, you begin beaming with confidence and a sense of purpose.
6. Surround yourself with the right people: This can be something such as finding the appropriate mentor to be around who has experience in the industry you’re pursuing. It could also just be a group of friends that support the things you value and are people that you respect and look up to. This is necessary because we’re only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. What the people around you say and do starts chipping away at your sub-conscious, eventually creeping its way into your reality. So if you want to change your life for the better, you might have to cut out some of the friend fat that weighs you down. The types of friends that don’t create value for your development, but rather just suck your life away and take, take, take!! Put more time into those friendships with people that are very real friendships and actually support you trying to create the best version of yourself, and be sure to avoid those friends that become passive-aggressive in the wake of your new goals and ambitions. A real friend will like you for your character, not what you do, or are trying to do. So focus on those people that are like-minded and you can bounce ideas off, people that can see your potential, even potentially helping you in the direction of your goals.
Fear is a silent killer. It lives in the dark shadows of our souls. It often remains undisturbed, powerful, and controlling the course of our lives. By leaving it alone, we let it grow and take over a bigger impact on our lives. It’s only when we begin to disturb it, and face it head on, that we actually begin to grow as people and that fear diminishes. Besides what’s the alternative? You sit back and live a mediocre life that wasn’t your first choice. We only get one life. We only have this one opportunity. Why would you be foolish enough to only live it halfway? We have an opportunity to get one hundred percent of ourselves, and our happiness. Thinking that accomplishing a dream, or a goal, isn’t realistic is a self-limiting belief that you need to shake before it becomes possible. But once you start believing it, the world of possibilities opens up.
They say courage is not being fearless, but forging ahead even when you’re scared to death. I think that’s something that people who’re currently chasing their dreams live out every single day.
To the dreamers, to the courageous ones, to those people who get up every day trying to get the most out of themselves and their lives. You’re the real modern day heroes.