"Don't die with your dreams."
It's a simple statement, but one I really needed to hear. After attending the live taping for The Hey, Girl Podcast's finale episode, I realized I'm not living my dream life. I have a decent job, my own place, and a great social life, but something is missing. That something? I'm doing what I'm supposed to, not what I want to do. However, shifting gears to have a more fulfilling life would require faith, taking risks, and being vulnerable—all things I struggle with. And I know I'm not the only one.
Some of us are settling for our life because we're afraid to try and fail. We're so scared to seem lost, directionless, or uncertain. We don't want to be judged or fear being misunderstood when we attempt to explain our lack of fulfillment to family and friends. We fear seeming "too old" to not have it "all together." We may also feel inclined to listen when the little voice in our head tells us we don't have what it takes to achieve our dreams or we don't deserve the joy and fulfillment that comes from walking in our purpose.
While these feelings and fears are valid, they don't reflect the reality of our situation. These feelings and fears are often rooted in stories that protect us from being vulnerable but keep us further away from our dreams.
We have to find the courage to tell ourselves a new story. One that affirms that we're exactly where we need to be and this part of life that feelings confusing, scary and uncertain is a necessary part of the journey.
Here's how we find the courage to do that:
Forgive yourself for not trying sooner.
As we get older, we may feel more pressured to settle down and play it safe when making big decisions. We may tell ourselves that we should have taken risks sooner and that it's too late in the game to attempt something new. It's hard to imagine new possibilities when we keep judging ourselves for choices we made in the past. We can wonder why the 25-year-old version of ourselves didn't make different decisions, but we can't change the past, and living with regret makes it hard for us to access our dreams. Forgiving yourself and being compassionate with yourself will allow you to access the confidence you need to be successful.
Stop comparing yourself to other people.
Reading and following the success stories of those we admire is a huge source of motivation. It can inspire us to dream big and imagine how different our lives could be if we took a risk. Unfortunately, it can also scare us into staying stuck because we'll fall into the comparison trap. We'll scroll through Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn and feel inadequate because people are further along than us. We may get discouraged when we discover people have access to funds, people, and opportunities that can help them excel faster than we can.
The truth is we don't know every detail of their story. We don't know what they've sacrificed or how scared they were when they started. What we do know is that they didn't give up. They found the courage to keep going despite their challenges, and we have the power to do the same.
Don't be controlled by what other people think.
It's natural to care about other people's thoughts because we're human. We thrive off being included and feeling connected. But we can't allow ourselves to be controlled by what other people think. Someone will always have thoughts about our decisions and desires. But we can't let the opinions of others keep us stuck and fearful. There is a difference between what we want and what others think we can, and should, have. Even people who love and care about us may attempt to limit us based on their fears and perceptions of who we're meant to be. But they don't have the final say over our lives, nor were they given our vision.
Have faith the pieces will come together.
One of my favorite lines in Paul Coelho's The Alchemist is, "when you want something, the whole universe conspires in helping you achieve it." When we begin pursuing our dreams and taking steps to walk in our purpose, opportunities and experiences will open up to help us on our journey. To notice these opportunities, we have to lean into abundance. Shifting to an abundance mindset is hard when you've become accustomed to living in scarcity. There is enough money, help, opportunities, time, and resources to make our dreams a reality.
Lean into the unknown.
When we don't know the answer or something seems uncertain, we sense that moving forward would put us in danger. We figure the more we know, the less daunting the process will be and the more successful we'll be in the end. But that's not true. We can't control or plan for everything. Where we've been conditioned to see danger, we could begin to see possibility. There is a lot of joy in the unknown. Sometimes we'll need to have faith in ourselves and trust that we have what it takes to be okay wherever we land.
You have to stick with it even when it sucks.
You can't skip the hard days. Sometimes we want to reach our dreams without struggling. As soon as something undesirable happens, we question the entire process and wonder if we've made a mistake. But experiencing lows is part of the journey. It won't always be easy, even when you want something and you're meant to have something. You can take a break, rest, and give yourself space to reassess the plan. But remember, "if the plan doesn't work, change the plan, not the goal."
Make time for your dreams.
Sometimes we're so busy using our time, energy, intellect, and creativity as conduits to other people's dreams that we forget to make time for our own. We'll feel productive, but we won't feel fulfilled. We have to stop hiding behind other people's happiness and make time to create our own.
One of the hardest things to do is ask for help. But when you have big dreams, you need a big network. You need a community of people that loves, supports, and encourages you. You also need people that share similar interests and goals. Don't be afraid to share that you're struggling and need help. Asking for help can be scary because it creates opportunities for people to judge you and question your ability to succeed, but those people likely weren’t rooting for you to begin with. People who love and support you won’t view you asking for help as a sign of incompetence.
Finding the courage to chase your dreams when you feel like you’ve waited too long is hard. But telling yourself that you’ve “waited too long” is keeping you stuck and unfulfilled. The person you are in five years will thank you for starting today. The choice is yours. But remember, “don’t die with your dreams.”
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