The idea of pursuing our dreams can bring up either excitement or anguish in most of us. For a lot of us, those dreams we had as kids when it felt like we could do anything and be anyone, are long extinguished. Settling down in the humdrum of life has led us to give up on our true path to happiness.
That’s not to say the life you have now isn’t making you happy but should you settle for just okay? Perhaps you went the safe route with your job – after all you have a family to support; you can’t go chasing after frivolous dreams. Your parents wouldn’t support you to start the career that you felt so passionate about so you went and got the safe job that does nothing for you? Perhaps you’ve hit a time in your life where you start to re-evaluate your path and what truly makes you happy but you’re not quite sure what to do or where to begin?
For many people realizing their dreams is hard because both mindset and action can be difficult to put into motion. We’ve lived so long not pursuing our dreams so from our comfort zones we look out and see a world of fear, rejection, failure and what ifs. If you feel this is you – you’re longing to pursue your passions and realize your dreams, then this can be achieved with a change in mindset and a good strategy. Follow these steps to get the wheels in motion and pursue those long-forgotten dreams.
1. ADJUST YOUR MINDSET TO REALIZE YOUR DREAMS
This is probably the number one inhibitor of dreams – the mindset. Whatever your mindset is tuned to will determine whether or not you can achieve your dreams. It determines how you think and behave and ultimately how successful you will be. There are many negative mindsets that we develop over time and stick with us either out of fear or lack of understanding. If you recognize any of these traits in yourself, then it’s time to change your way of thinking.
Believing you can’t achieve your dream: The number one dream-squashing mindset. Falsely believing that your dreams are out of reach is usually a product of low self-esteem and fear manifested as excuses. Realize that YOU CAN achieve your dream – you are no different to anyone else who has experienced achievement and courage to go after what they want in life.
Your dream is about validation rather than true happiness: Going after a dream that is all about you – recognition, getting rich or even famous – is a big no-no. This is showing your focus is all wrong and you are most likely pursuing a dream that is trying to heal deep-rooted issues. Find something that has a pure motivation behind it and don’t make it about others or status.
It won’t require much work or growth on your part: Realizing your dream can be an exciting prospect but it’s important to understand that it may take a lot of effort and growth both on the inside and the outside. Be prepared to fight for what you want and put yourself out there – don’t let fear get the better of you because most of the time fear is just an unjustified emotion based on ideas and past experiences that don’t hold water anymore.
Only see the opportunities directly related to your dream: Sometimes opportunities will present themselves but aren’t quite what we want or we feel they are beneath us and our dream. Saying no closes potential paths to exciting places; ones that will take you to realizing your dream. Be prepared to have a mindset that supports saying yes to all opportunities and stop limiting your potential.
2. IDENTIFY WHAT YOUR DREAMS ARE
For many of us we have an idea of wanting to do something different with our lives but are unsure of exactly what it is. You may have found yourself unemployed and wanting to take this opportunity to finally go after your dream but don’t quite know what it is.
Ask yourself this question: ideally,if you could choose any path and dream you wanted what would it be?
The key to this question is to relax, ask it to yourself without any pressure and see what comes up. Choose to trust your gut feelings and don’t dismiss anything as silly or unattainable – this is a true insight into what would make you truly happy and once your mindset is in check then you can start to believe that this could happen for you.
For me, when I asked myself this question, I couldn’t give any answers other than I wanted to do something creative. Once that was in my head I noticed more and more instances where writing came up and it planted the seed. I eventually realized I decided that becoming a writer was something I wanted to pursue.
3. DEAL WITH YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS
Your limiting beliefs are the thoughts and ideas in your head that justify why you can’t achieve your dreams. They will usually manifest as “but I don’t have the financial security to just follow my dream”, “I’m too old now, there’s no point”, “I’ve never managed to achieve much in my life before so I can’t see how this is going to work out”.
These are damaging and usually come out of fear and lack of trust in yourself. When these come up, try and analyze why they are there. Are they real or are they just created out of fear? Many people who achieve their dreams have made a leap of faith quashing their pesky limiting beliefs – feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Try and find examples in your life or someone you admire to show you that these limiting beliefs aren’t actually true; there’s nothing standing in your way other than your own mind.
And yes, I came up with ALL these when I first toyed with the idea of making a career out of writing so you aren’t alone!
4. DON’T LISTEN TO NEGATIVITY OR OPINIONS THAT COUNTERACT YOURS
There will always be people who will not support your dream – unfortunately this will be a lot more people than you wish it was. But understand that people have their own ideas and thoughts built on their own fears and ways of looking at things and this doesn’t mean they are right. If someone is being negative or unsupportive then accept this and remove yourself from speaking to them about your plans. Instead find people who are excited for you, supportive and believe you will succeed – this will help push you towards your dream and make it a reality.
I came across a lot of opinions and negativity about how I’ll struggle as a writer and it’s not financially secure – why would you want to choose that kind of life? But I chose not to listen to or read negative things – I set my sights on what I wanted to do and solidified my reasons for doing it in my own mind.
5. DON’T BOW TO SOCIAL PRESSURES
In relation to the last point, so many of us live our lives due to societal ideas, beliefs and pressures. We live in a world saturated with messages about what we should do. The idea that you should have a safe and stable job and be married with children is a world-wide social pressure. We are made to believe that these things will bring us ultimate happiness but this isn’t the case for everyone. Chasing our dreams is often looked as as irresponsible but who gets the right to say that to you? If you want to pursue a career as a writer rather than sitting on a desk at a reception then you should have the right to do it no matter what people will think or say!
We often use the excuse to live a safe and comfortable life to justify dismissing our dreams. If you find yourself feeling unhappy and frustrated with your current life – that it’s being ruled by other people’s expectations then it’s time to take action.
Having a career change in my 30s wasn’t exactly ideal according to society. Instead I should have been settled down, making the big money even if it’s in a boring job. But at the end of the day, it’s my life and this is your life – only you get to say what happens in it and realize your dreams.
6. CREATE A PLAN MOVING FORWARD
So you’ve sorted out your mindset, said no to the social pressures and naysayers and decided to take control of your life and realized you deserve to make yourself happy! Now is the time to come up with a plan. Take small steps and start with some research – find people who have done the same thing and look for potential ways to start the ball rolling.
When I realized I wanted to become a writer, I had no idea where to start or if it was truly possible but I didn’t put any pressure on myself. I looked around online and found stories and ideas that reinforced in my mind that this was achievable. I invested in a daily program that took me through the steps to set myself up as a freelancer and built up my confidence.
It’s really important to take small steps to get your mind around the idea that this is possible. Small, achievable steps = more confidence which will take you on your way to realizing your dream.
List any anticipated problems that could arise and how you will deal with, and overcome them. Having a good plan in place will quash any fears of the unknown and give you a sense of comfort.
7. DON’T GIVE UP!!
It won’t always be easy (although with the right attitude and planning it can be) so if you come across hurdles, negative talk or opinions and general fears that will crop up from time to time (we are human after all!) then whatever you do don’t give up.
I’m still on my journey to becoming a writer and I still don’t even know where it’ll take me but I know I’m on the right path and following my dream. At the end of the day, life is about your own happiness so go and do what makes you happy.