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.”
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.
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.
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?
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!