If you clicked to read this post, it means that you have a dream that you want to follow.
You’ve realised that the thing you’ve always wanted to do – the thing you’ve passed off as a hobby because you couldn’t possibly want to make a career of it – is actually quite important to you. You’ve thought about it a lot, not daring to speak to anyone about it in case they didn’t support you. After all, it’s something you’ve kept close to your heart where it was protected from the world and the opinions in it.
I’ve been there.
We all have. Dreams are the things that we think are too big, too far-fetched, for our realities. We don’t believe that one day, we’ll be the manager of our department, or the CEO of our own business. We’ve been taught to be practical, to have attainable long-term goals that we can discuss with our managers as part of a five-year plan. We say, “it would be nice to get my PhD someday, but that’s for someone smarter than me” or “I love that [insert name]’s dream came true, but that will never happen to me”.
Sound familiar? Of course it does, because it’s what we’re conditioned to do. Unless we do the one thing that can help us achieve our dreams:
Stop being afraid.
For the longest time, I wanted to be a writer. I told people about it in the idealistic way we tend to speak about dreams: “I would love to be an author someday, but in the meantime, I’m going to do this other thing that vaguely interests me.” I was content with that for a long time, convinced that someday, I would finally write a book and sell it. But I was afraid that if I did, it wouldn’t be any good. That I wouldn’t find a publisher who liked it. That my dream would be dashed by reality.
Then one day, there was a bigger fear than not being good at what I wanted to do. It was my final year of university, and I was going to have to go out into the very scary world and earn my keep. Suddenly, I didn’t want to do the other thing that vaguely interested me. I had a flash of a life where I was so focused on achieving in a career I didn’t really want that I would never get to achieve the dream that I really did want. The thought scared me so much that soon, I was writing my first book, entering it into a publishing competition, asking my friends to read it in support and facing all the fears I had within a few months.
Two years later, I had a publishing contract and a dream come true.
Letting go of that fear that stopped me from trying to reach my dream had very real, positive consequences in my life. And though it may sound hard, there are some small things that you can do to help you start to face your fears:
1. Ask yourself questions about it
Do you want to make a living from it? Is it something you will be happy doing even if it doesn’t make you money? Are you willing to sacrifice for it? These types of questions will help you determine what you want, which can guide you in the next step.
2. Do your research
Find out if your dream is something you can make a living from, and then read up on how you’ll be able to do that. If it’s by taking classes part time, or figuring out what making an [insert your idea] app entails, you should know about it. This takes me to the next step.
3. Develop a plan
Now that you know what achieving your dream will entail, you should develop some kind of plan to get you there. If you have to take classes, but you don’t have the money, you’ll need to save or find some extra work to do to make that money. Once you have the money, you can enrol, and gain the qualifications you need to be what you want to be. You can then open your own business, or gain experience or do whatever else your plan entails.
4. Tell your friends and family about it
After all of this, it’s important that you don’t keep it to yourself. Speaking about your dream – and now your plans – to the people you love and trust is a simple, but effective way to keep your dream as a possibility, and to hold you accountable for it.
If living your dream is something that will make you happy, you have to explore it. Hopefully, this post will help you take the first step to do so!
I would love to hear your thoughts about this! Have you taken the first steps to following your dream? What were they? Do you think these steps helped? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter!