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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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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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