Since my longtime obsession is trying to follow some semblance of my dreams, I figured this week I’d focus on what seems to be so f*cking difficult about that. Truthfully, it’s my own belief system, filled with fears and limitations that hinder me, regardless of how often I try to convince myself otherwise. I imagine you can relate to this, as almost all of us have that secret dream deep down that we protect and nurture, whether we ever act upon it or not.
I’ve done a lot of reflecting on why it seems so impossible and terrifying to go after what we want and I’ve noticed several recurring themes. Here’s a list of them so you can stop making excuses and become the most amazing human you’re capable of being.
So firstly, what’s your “big dream?” Get clear about that shit because it’s going to be tough to pursue something without a general idea or direction. Now consider what’s actually preventing you from becoming your most desired version of you.
Allowing Ourselves to be Limited by Fear
Ugh. Fear sucks it. I hate feeling scared, but as we know – if everything were easy and never scary, we’d have no need for courage. Fear is one of those things that often lie to us. It plays on our insecurities and convinces us that we will never reach greatness or the secret successes we long for. It tricks us into making excuses and into settling for far less than what we once hoped for ourselves.
We often disguise our fear as pragmatism and choose the path that’s considered safe. It’s a trade-off. We choose more structure, safety, and convention over freedom and individualism but more uncertainty. When we settle into something we don’t want long-term, we risk wasting our potential and slipping into a resignation for a safe, comfortable lifestyle but lose the opportunities for growth that facing challenges presents.
But wait – PSYCH! There is no such thing as “safety.” That’s also a lie we tell ourselves to feel secure in a world full of unpredictability far outside of our control. There is no safe place, it’s all a matter of how you view the world and what you’re willing to exchange in order to make your dreams come true.
I’m not suggesting that you’re life is destined to suck if you settle. In fact, I believe you can have a wonderful, rich life full of meaning. Good enough is often a great goal to strive towards. I just know that you and maybe only you alone, will in some capacity always carry that small, secret longing for a life un-lived.
Comparing Ourselves to Others and What They Think of Us
We care a whole lot about what others think. But respectfully, fuck them.
Your life is yours and no one else has to live with the guilt, regret or self-imposed anger you’ll have to live with because you did what you were “supposed” to do. This life should be by your design and anyone who wants to laugh at you has probably not pursued their own dreams with unrelenting fervor (or they have and they forgot what that’s like).
Your parents, friends, partner, and children don’t have to live with the decisions you’ve made, so release the need to seek other’s approval in this process, you’ll be much happier.
It also doesn’t matter if someone else was 21 when they hit it big or became famous. Whatever, that’s their process and yours may look very different. Some of the greats didn’t make it until they were far past middle-age and many of the most brilliant thinkers weren’t recognized until they were dead! Don’t compare yourself to anyone, ever. You can gain some inspiration or borrow some tricks of the trade, but ultimately your path is unique to you.
Not Feeling Deserving
Many of us have those people in our lives who tell us from the time we’re young that our dreams are unrealistic. They project their life of frustrations and failures or unmet dreams and expectations onto us (usually not purposefully) and we begin to carry the same attitude about our own visions. We assume that they’re right and that it’s time we push our dream to the side in lieu of something seemingly more tangible.
You deserve to have the life of your own choosing. I understand that there are many barriers to this belief. Others treated you with cruelty or didn’t support your dreams, your self-esteem and belief in yourself is lacking or damaged. There could be a million reasons, but ultimately – YOU are the only one who can decide you’re good enough and that your dreams are there for the taking. There has never been and never will be anyone exactly like you, with your perspectives and unique talents. No one will offer the exact things you can and that makes you the perfect candidate for that thing you really want.
Like Marianne Williams said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
Giving Up Too Soon
Success often takes a while. We’re often laying the bricks of effort long before our elaborate palace of fantastic accomplishment is completed. I think what gets discouraging is seeing other people’s successes in full bloom, rather than the long list of consistent rejection letters, missteps, failures, and dinner conversations with friends and family urging them to forgo their dream and softly accept defeat. It’s not going to happen overnight and we’ve got to build the resilience to keep going, even when everything seems hopeless.
Some things, we can’t change. We may not be able to go back and become a professional baseball player at 53 or an Olympic figure skater at 70. (Or maybe we can?) but if that’s the case, then we owe it to ourselves the forgiveness for not pursuing those things in the capacity we wanted in order to avoid living a life of regret. We then have the choice of practicing acceptance and get to reimagine the ways in which we can still make that dream a reality. Maybe you can become a coach, an announcer, or even a loyal spectator who spends your free time at the batting cages, in the twilight league, or lazy Sundays on the rink.
Waiting for that “Perfect Timing”
There is no perfect timing, period. I did this for three years with my writing and videos. THREE YEARS! I brainstormed and babbled about creating content. I told me friends, talked about video ideas, but never pursued it. It was always, next week, month, year. “When I leave this job and have more time, when I’m less stressed out, back in New York, when I have more energy…then the perfect time will prevent itself.”
No. No, it won’t. It’s today, or it’s never at all. You will tell yourself you can do something your entire life and then one day you die. Now is the opportunity. If you don’t have the time, MAKE the time. If it’s important enough to you, if you’re unhappy enough with your current situation, you’ll change it. Like Anais Nin said, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Not everyone will live the life of their dreams, but that doesn’t mean we can’t turn our dreams into our hobbies. I’m not suggesting that we are destined to live an unhappy life if we don’t pursue our big dream, and who says a successful life is ONLY one where we’ve attacked every dream we’ve ever had with unyielding abandon? I just think we can work towards creating a new reality for ourselves, one in which we don’t find ourselves regretting the things we never did.
Here’s a sweet video I made on this topic.