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Do it Already! 3 Ways to Jumpstart Your Dreams

Do it Already! 3 Ways to Jumpstart Your Dreams

I wanted to be a writer from the time I was four years old, but I spent the next twenty years of my life not really writing. Some say that no matter what we dream of doing, jumpstarting our dreams is so much closer than it seems in the dream itself. If I wanted to be a writer, why didn’t I just write?

The verb was right under my nose.

Sadly, I didn’t believe in my writing. Even sadder still, I never showed my writing to anyone around me, and I didn’t have any feedback (negative or positive) to build upon. How could I believe in myself if I didn’t have anyone to tell me if I was good or not, or how to improve?

At some point, I had to rip the bandaid right off.

I did it by starting a blog, sharing it with my friends, and bracing myself for their feedback. Luckily, the feedback was constructive, and I’m now working harder than ever at becoming a better writer—living my long-lost dream.

In his book Screw It, Let’s Do It, Sir Richard Branson describes many of the crazy things he’s attempted in his life. Apparently, he doesn’t stick to just building billion dollar businesses; he’s also taken many scary journeys, like a hot air balloon flight that almost cost him his life. In explaining his risk-taking, he says:

“I believe in myself. I believe in the hands that work, in the brains that think, and in the hearts that love.”

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Without believing in myself, there’s no way I could’ve written a few books and shared my heart and soul on my blog. Without putting myself out there, there’s no way my words would be right in front of you right now. If there’s something you’ve dreamed of doing but haven’t quite started yet, I have a few questions for you, but, first, here are a few tips that worked for me:

Start So Small That There’s No Way to Lose

You’ve heard plenty of people tell you to acquire the habit of flossing by just flossing one tooth. Mind tricks like this do help build new habits, but the mind trick isn’t exactly what I find so powerful.

Starting small helps me feel competent enough to keep going.

I’ll never forget my first blog post: it consisted of an image of a Nutella jar with a candle on top, and the title might have been something like “I Don’t Know What I’m Doing“. It was a simple little test, but it accomplished my task for that day; setting up the blog. I felt accomplished that day. I felt like I climbed a mountain. I had never set up a blog before, and tackling that task made me feel awesome—awesome enough to tackle my next task the very next day.

Is there a way you could break up your tasks so you can dedicate a little bit of time each day to accomplishing the overarching dream?

There’s a reason you haven’t gone for your dream yet, whether it be money, time, or something else. Breaking it up into small pieces may help to change that in the future.

Hack Your Fears & Uncertainties

I’m convinced that the hardest part about fear isn’t feeling it; it’s mentally grappling with it. Browsing the internet, I stumbled upon a great video by Tim Ferriss that covers just how he (a renowned author and lifehacker) fights fear. In the video, Tim describes a way to very practically analyze and plan out what facing fear looks and feels like.

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In the short five minute talk, Tim suggests grappling with fear by pulling out a piece of paper and making three columns.

Column 1: Bad things that could happen if you do what you’re considering

Column 2: Things you can do to minimize bad things from happening

Column 3: Things you could do to undo the change, or re-achieve where you are now

By putting those three columns down on paper and filling them out with as much detail as possible, what fear can’t be undone?

If there’s something you are fearing, can you apply the three column smackdown to squash it forever?

I went after my dream of being a writer by starting my blog. From the beginning, I knew that the worst thing that could happen was getting negative reactions from people around me. If that happened, my plan was pretty simple: DELETE IT. Your dream may be different. It may include bigger risks and bigger fears. Whatever the size of your dream, the three column approach may help you sort through the uncertainties.

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PS. To make it simple, I made you a simple spreadsheet to use the three column approach. Download it to your Google Drive for free here.

Enlist the Help of Others

No matter how much we try, there’s only so much we can do alone. In my opinion, it takes a village to do most anything awesome.

They say that the easiest way to change is to get friends that are where you want to be.

Some of the best successes I’ve had as a writer (and blogger) have been a direct result of making friends with people from all walks of life and experiences. I’ve met amazing people at conferences but also in my own hometown. Are you underestimating the power of community? Whether you dream of climbing Mt. Everest or quitting your job to move to a tropical beach, the knowledge and wisdom of anyone who’s done it before can help you leaps and bounds—especially when it comes to skipping common mistakes.

In my experience (which is all I know), one of the best ways to make new friends is to thank people who have made an impact in your world. No matter how scary it sounds, I constantly reach out to people who I admire to say I’m grateful for their work. Some of these people end up being incredible mentors and friends.

Ready to Jumpstart Your Dreams?

Almost everyone I come across has huge dreams for their lives. They want to conquer their fears and strive to always be better, but they fail on the follow-through. If you want to go after your dreams sooner rather than later—because there’s no better time than now—try these three steps to jumpstart your dreams now.

Your life is passing you by every single second. It’s yours to live. Are you living it?

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I’d love to hear from you:

What’s holding you back from living your dreams?

Is there something in particular you’re afraid of? Could you avoid it?

Could hanging out and brainstorming with others help you achieve your dreams?

Leave your ideas and stories in the comments!

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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