There is no exact science for achieving your dreams. Being a huge math nerd, I wish it was an easy formula of do x, y, z and poof you are a huge success! Although everyone’s journey is different and what works for one person may not work for another, I do think these 12 steps below can definitely lead you down the right path.
1. Dream BIG!!
This doesn’t mean everyone has to want to be the CEO of a company. It just means you don’t limit yourself due to the fear of failure. On my refrigerator I have a magnet that says, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” For many years I would stare at that and my mind would go blank. I didn’t even know where to begin. Below are tips that helped me figure it out:
- It is not about doing something you can stand, but instead finding something that keeps you up at night because you love working on it or thinking about it.
- Take sometime to reflect about what makes you tick
- Ask people in your life what your strengths areBe careful - a strength is not just something you are good at. There are things you are good at, but hate doing. A strength is something that makes you lose track of time.
- What would you do if money didn’t matter?
2. Don't take yourself too seriously-vulnerability is a strength not a weakness
For so long I walked around in cased in a heavy armor to avoid showing weakness or looking stupid. I used it to “protect” myself from letting my soft side show. I felt this pressure to have it all together and not let people see my weaknesses. Ironically I would get hurt or upset when people misperceived me as being intimidating or not nice. Now looking back, how could I expect people to know me as the silly warm person I am or feel connected to me, when I was covered in steal to protect myself. Watching Brene Brown’s TED talk has opened my eyes to the power of vulnerability. Let’s be honest, going after your dreams is going to leave you feeling vulnerable at times. Embracing those feelings instead of resisting or hiding from them, will help give you the strength you need to achieve your dreams.
3. Attack it with a beginner's mentality
I can be a bit of a perfectionist – ok that is a complete lie…I am a huge perfectionist. The problem is you absolutely are not going to have it all together when you first do anything. By coming at your dreams from a beginner’s mentality you give yourself permission to not have all the answers or be perfect right from the start. It allows you to be open to help and constructive criticism because a beginner knows they have a long way to go before they are an expert. Those moments don’t feel as much of a blow to the ego, because you go into it knowing you are still learning. Having a beginner’s mentality can also create a thirst for knowledge. Throughout my journey I have consumed countless, books, blogs, podcasts, and anything I can get my hands on. Plan to be a life long learner in whatever field you go into.
4. Build connections and a strong support network
At times, going after your dreams can be lonely and overwhelming. It makes all the difference in the world when you have people to talk to, who understand what you are going through. I have been amazed and touched by the amount of people who have been willing to sit down with me. These people have been perfect strangers, but they get excited for what I am trying to accomplish and they go out of their way to help me. It is so uplifting to be around that kind of energy. Now don’t get me wrong, I have experienced the other end of the spectrum too. Sadly the people who can be the most critical of your dreams are not strangers, but instead people close to you. My family is amazing, but early on they were not supporting my endeavor in anyway and I would often leave their house in tears. Although they are usually so supportive, the idea of me leaving a great job, that I don’t dislike, to go start a company, was so outside their realm of understanding. They just couldn’t wrap their heads around it. Plus the people closest to you are often the ones who worry the most about what will happen if you fail. I understood where they were coming from, but I absolutely wouldn’t accept it. I needed them to be on my team. We had many tough conversations, but ultimately they realized how important their support was to me.
5. Be willing to do things that scare you - get out of your comfort zone
One of my favorite books is Feel the Fear and Do it Anyways by Susan Jeffers. I love her five truths about fear:
- The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow
- The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.
- The only way to feel better about myself is to go out…and do it.
- Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, so is everyone else
- Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness.
I often go back and reread those five truths as I pursue my dreams. Recently, I have had to push myself so far out of my comfort zone time and time again. For example, I HATE getting my pictures taken or being on video. When I used to coach the dance team, the girls loved to try to take pics of me because they knew how much I hated it. Clearly looking at this website, I have had to let go of those fears. Another example of me getting out of my comfort zone was when I recently went to Columbia, Missouri to listen to one of my favorite authors speak, Chris Guillebeau. I went totally by myself and when I arrived everyone was standing around chatting. I am a total introvert (people don’t believe me when I tell them this) and I definitely get social anxiety from time to time (all the time). I made a beeline to the bathroom and called my best friend who thrives in these situations. She gave me a pep talk and suggestions to how to break into a conversation with a group of people I didn't know. Truly, if it was up to me, I would have just hid out in the bathroom until Chris Guillebeau starting speaking, but I knew I was being silly. I put my big girl pants on and met some great people.
6. Embrace failure- Reevaluate, readjust, and recommit
As a math teacher, you can imagine how many times I have heard the question, “When are we ever going to use this?” It is a fair question in many ways, and especially when I am teaching something called Trig Identities (one of my favorite things in math). Very few, if any of my students will ever sit down and do trig identities in their future job. However, they teach students an important lesson about failure. When the inevitable question arises, I tell the students that all of them at one point or another are going to be faced with a problem that they don’t think they can solve and it is extremely intimidating. Learning how to push past that feeling and just diving in, is so powerful. Often, making the mistakes and “failing” is what sparks your brain to figure out the solution. According to Napeleon Hill, many people’s “greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them.” You can’t plan for everything and without a doubt something is not going to go as planned. You need to know that is ok and be able to think creatively when that happens.
To be continued.....
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I would love to hear from you. Take a moment and let me know which steps spoke to you or you have used in your life.