You have a dream. But something is holding you back from achieving it.
It’s not the right time.
Your friends don’t think you can do it.
You don’t think you can do it.
Fear. Fear. Fear.
Fear is what’s lying behind every excuse, even the most logical ones. You’re afraid you’re not ready yet. That your friends won’t like you anymore. That you will make a fool of yourself and fail miserably. You’re scared of the unknown. Of what might happen if you take the leap.
But what happens if you don’t take the leap? Can you take sitting back, day in and day out, watching other people go after their dreams while your life goes on the same as before, wondering what if all the time?
Truth bomb: the lucky few who achieve their dreams are just as scared as you. They just do it anyway.
You can do it, too. Here are four questions to ask yourself when fear gets the better of you:
2. Will You Say, “I Wish I Did?”
My sister was begging me to wait. Dad had just left home. Mum had no way to support herself on her own. Money was tight.
It was the worst moment for me to leave for London. But I still got onto that plane. I did it because for the past 13 years, there hadn’t been a day when I wish I hadn’t done it sooner. And if there’s a thing I learned in those 13 years is that there is never a right time to go after your dreams.
If anything, the timing gets worse as you age. As you get older, you get saddled with more and more responsibilities. Student’s debt. Mortgage. Marriage. Children. Ailing parents. For many, they sound the death knell of dreams.
I get it. I was ridden with guilt as I walked onto that plane. But it was time for me to do it. Because when you realise that everything will never fall into place, the only right moment to go after your dreams is now. Hesitate for just one day and, before you know, years have gone past.
I’m not gonna lie. It will be hard. The longer you wait, the harder it gets. I’m not saying you have to leave all your responsibilities behind or stop caring about other people. But if you know your dream will never leave you, it’s time to take the first step forward in its direction.
You can make a plan on how to move forward and overcome your obstacles. You can enrol for a night class so you can still work during the day. You can look for your first three freelance clients while working at your corporate job.
Whether you’re going to or not, time’s gonna pass anyway. The only question is: in 10 years time, will you say “I wish I did?” Or “I’m so glad I did?”.
1. Will Your Dream Ever Go Away?
Sometimes, dreams do. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a primary school teacher, a musical theatre actress and a fashion designer. None of these dreams lasted long.
But my dream to be a writer? That never left me. If anything, it’s only gotten stronger as the years went by. That’s when I knew I owed it to myself to give it a go.
You see, when you’re young, it’s easy to think you have all the time in the world to achieve your dreams. You can put them off now to get a “real” job and go back to them later. The tragedy is that most people never go back to them.
But that desire never goes away. It’s still there, begging you to give it a go, tormenting you with what ifs.
You have a choice: looking fear in the eyes and going for it or spending the rest of your life wishing every day that you had. The exhilarating satisfaction of going after your dreams or the bitter regret of never seeing them come true.
Which one will you choose?
3. What Are You Losing By Staying In This Situation?
You may think I was selfish for getting onto that plane anyway. My sister certainly thinks so.
But staying put wouldn’t just have meant losing my dreams. It’d have meant losing my sanity, too.
In those 13 years I put my dreams on hold, depression had been a constant companion. It had ruined my relationship with family and friends, cost me jobs, robbed me of my self-esteem.
When I left for London, I was coming out of the tunnel. I knew had I stayed in Senigallia, depression would have come back with a vengeance. My sister thought leaving was selfish. But she wouldn’t have liked being stuck with a big sister to take care of, as well.
I’ve been depression-free for more than three years. I now live in my dream city and have the best job in the world. My sister is buying a house and starting a family. My mum has a good pension and is well taken care of.
Had I stayed, none of this would have happened…
When you go after your dreams, you’ll rock the boat big time. You’ll be called selfish for putting yourself first. But sometimes, putting yourself first is the least selfish thing you can do. For you. For everyone you love.
You can’t always see it when you’re in the middle of it, but staying put is often worse than taking the plunge. That’s when you should ask yourself: “what are you losing by staying in your current situation?” You may well realise staying put is the worst thing you can do.
4. Is It Your Fear Or Someone Else’s?
Do you remember how excited you were about your idea until someone pointed out how unrealistic/difficult/expensive it was?
When I first told my family I wanted to make a living writing, they thought I were crazy. They said no one would hire a freelance writer without an university degree. They pointed out that a blog isn’t a portfolio. They warned me I would come back home penniless within a few months.
I’m so glad I didn’t listen to them. Their fears turned out to be unfounded. They warned me out of love but they had never tried freelancing. They had no idea how the industry works and what it takes to succeed there.
If someone hasn’t been there and done that, their opinion doesn’t count.
Your friends and family mean well but if someone hasn’t experienced something first-hand, their advice may not be relevant. Besides, your loved ones want you to be safe. They’d like you to succeed but not if it means taking a risk that may not pay off. They don’t want to see you fail.
Tell them about your dreams if you want but don’t take their advice. Instead, seek out friends and mentors who’ve been there and done that. Use their warnings and their advice to improve and succeed.
Next time you’re doubting if you can make your dreams come true, ask yourself, “is this my fear or someone else’s?” Going after your dreams is scary enough as it is. You don’t need to take on other people’s fears as well.
Over to you, now. What fears are holding you back from achieving your dreams and how are you dealing with them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.