Stop Waiting For A Safety Net To Go After Your Dreams

Ali V.
Ali V.

On my recent road trip, I spent a lot of time talking to retired people. Maybe that’s not how you thought this article would start, but let me tell you why.

They’re the people who are always on trips. They’re not working, they don’t have to take care of their kids anymore, and they are able to put their daily responsibilities on hold for a little while. They’ve saved the money, planned where to go, and decided to do it. So at most National Parks, it was the retired folks… and me.

We talked about a lot of things. Their families, their trips, their RVs. Many of them asked me what I was doing and why I was alone. They all told me one thing:

“It’s so great that you are doing this now!”

They all told me some version of how they waited 40 years to do their trip – how life got away from them. How time moves quickly. How suddenly you wake up and you’re 65.

They all told me – that now is the time to do it. How it’s so good that I’m not waiting.

What is that thing you have always wanted to do?

Is it quitting your job to travel the world? Is it telling someone you love them? Writing a book? Starting a website? Learning to paint? Running a marathon?

We are really, really good at convincing ourselves that it’s not the right time. We are also really good at convincing ourselves that someday will be the right time. We wait for the weekend, for a raise, for things to fall into our laps. We think there will come a day when we’re 100% ready, when it’s comfortable, and when it is “right”.

Comfort doesn’t exist here. There will never be a risk that doesn’t intimidate or scare you.

What is even more uncomfortable is thinking about how long we’ve been putting off our dreams. If you’ve been saying you’re going to write a book for two years and have done nothing about it, confronting that sucks. It doesn’t make you feel fulfilled or proud of your productivity or achievements. It makes you feel like you somehow haven’t been true to yourself. It stirs up a lot of shame, rejection and self-doubt.

We then do whatever we can to avoid the bad feelings that come with confronting the dreams we’ve put aside. We distract ourselves. We binge-watch something on Netflix and continue to put off that thing. We lock the idea of it away because doing so is easy; it involves no risk. It doesn’t rock the boat.

Immediately forgive yourself for putting off your dream.

Because you are human, you understand: life gets in the way. We make excuses for ourselves all the time. Let that go.

Forgive yourself for who you are and whoever you’ve been in the past. Are you putting off that thing because you’re afraid? Forgive yourself for that and for the mistakes you might make when you do start following your dream. No person who pursued their passion did so without failure. No person who pursued their passion did so without risk.

Do you really want to do that thing? It’s okay if you don’t anymore. It’s okay to change your mind. You’re not handcuffed to any idea that only exists in your own mind. But if you do want to do it, why not start now?

None of us know how much time we have here. If there is something you’ve always dreamed of doing, start the process today. You will always be able to find a reason not to.

Stop waiting for the right moment. Stop waiting for a promotion. Stop waiting for someone to go with you. Stop waiting for it to feel comfortable. Stop waiting for things to line themselves up. Stop waiting for a safety net.

The right moment doesn’t exist. The right moment is whenever you decide it is.

You will never feel comfortable. You will never feel completely ready. The stars will never align exactly how you always hoped they would. That perfect timing will never fall right in front of you. It is up to you to decide if and when you should do that thing – the thing you’ve always wanted to do.

What are you waiting for? Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Erin Sullivan is a writer, photographer, adventure trip leader and traveler.

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