Dreams. We all have them. Some of us go after them like a last minute shopper on Christmas Eve (determined and willing to pay any price to get what they want), while others put those dreams away in a tightly sealed box and hide them in the attic, thinking they’re not for us. It’s not the right time or we don’t deserve them. This past weekend marked the one year anniversary of my last day at my corporate job, the day I ripped the tape off those dusty dreams. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year but it made me think about the relationships we have with our deepest desires, our dreams.
Are you embarrassed by your dreams? Or do you boldly embrace them? Have you ever thought about why?
One year ago I took a major risk, gave my notice and walked out the door to start my own business in a field I had dreamed about for years. I was excited but also terrified to actually take steps in a direction where I was in charge.
My husband was more than willing to support me in doing this and we’re very fortunate that financially we could pull this off. He was well aware of how poor a fit my desk job had become for me (to the point where it was affecting my health) and was happy to see me ready to do something that was more “me”.
When I say I was terrified, I’m not kidding. Believing in myself, especially when it came to career was always a major issue for me. In high school and college, I had periods where I really wanted to become a psychologist, a teacher, a family counselor and later, a business owner (my own coffee shop/cafe), a nutritionist and even a personal trainer. Every time I started to investigate what it would take to make those things a reality, I got cold feet. I was smart, I got good grades and was a hard worker but somewhere deep inside me I believed that I didn’t have what it would take to make those things happen for the long haul. Sure, I went so far as to take a year of Elementary Ed classes in college, and even did a student teaching gig in a kindergarten class but when it came time to start the entry steps for the next part of the program, I froze and decided that the English degree I was passively working on in the background was going to have to be good enough.
I started to believe that I was “lazy” because I couldn’t follow through with any of the careers I wanted for myself. I took jobs that I knew would never be a career because I in my heart I thought that a “career” just wasn’t meant to be for me. I sealed up my dreams in a box and shipped them off! It was so much easier to work jobs that made me miserable than it was to risk failing at something that made me happy. For almost a decade and a half I let this fear keep me stagnant and hold me back. That makes me sad.
Instead of realizing that I had some fear around my abilities and a fear of failure, I punished myself for being lazy and not having ambition. It wasn’t until relatively recently that I finally realized that I have plenty of ambition and I’m not the least bit lazy but I need to be in charge. I can’t answer to someone else and thrive. I had all these dreams, but I was afraid to take the risks to make them happen. Eventually the risk of staying where I was became greater than the risk of making a big change.
Most things I’ve been doing in this past year to build and grow a business have also been terrifying. My first sessions with each new client, every blog post, newsletter or program – all of it has put me out of my comfort zone at first. I’m constantly putting myself on the line, being vulnerable, risking rejection and failure. But while I take each step, sometimes holding my breath, I’m growing, gaining confidence and learning new skills. I’m feeling more like me than I have in years and I feel like all the creativity I had in me as a child is coming to life again. For the first time since college, I am excited about what lies ahead for me as a career. And could I still fail? Sure. But that’s less scary now that I see what going after my dreams has given to me.
The risk of not going after your dreams is that you will stifle your potential and create stories about who you are that aren’t true.
What dreams have you sealed up in a mental “box”?
What do you believe to be true about yourself that puts limits on your dreams?
What’s getting in the way of your dreams?
Is there a recurring theme in your life? Your jobs? Your relationships?
Do you keep coming up with excuses as to why you can’t or shouldn’t have the dreams you have?
Why do you think that is? What would it take for you to snip the tape off that box and let that dream breathe?
Long term, it’s way scarier to not go after what you want. My wish for you is that you’ll at least investigate your reasons for not going after what you want. You deserve to be happy. Don’t let a decade or more pass by before you take steps to make that happen. When you find resistance coming up in regards to your dreams, ask yourself if those things are true? You may find that they’re not!
What a great post – reading about how you let go of the fear and took a major risk is really inspiring. There are definitely things I relate to here – I’m not sure what all the answers are, but I’m encouraged by knowing that pursuing your passion is possible. Hmm, lots to ponder here. Congratulations on all you’ve achieved so far!
Andrea, I can relate to your story in so many ways. I just wish I had let go of the career stifle a lot sooner than I did. I spent about 25 years trying to find my way in the work world, miserable. But I took the leap to work for myself 5 years ago. Terrifying, exhilarating all at the same time. And I still wonder and worry if I’m going to make it. There’s no way I would go back to working for the ‘man’. No way. My dream seems silly to some and I’m trying not to care. I want to travel around in an RV, working on the road, writing, sharing, coaching in my niche. The freedom to allow me to cycle, to hike, to eat well, to see friends, to explore. That’s what I’m aiming for. I just need to keep my dream alive every day and move forward, step by step. Well done for you and your one year of pursuing your dream. It’s all worth it!
Sometimes you just don’t know what you just don’t know until someone poses a set of questions like this that makes you wonder about what is really going on. I have always been a dreamer and then a doer. But as my dream got bigger and scary, it got harder to just jump in and get going on them. But what I’ve found is the scariest part was the first action item. The moment where I say, “okay, this is happening NOW” and I hold my breathe and dive in. Then the magic happens and the fear starts to dissipate. Until the next step…
Fantastic post about getting out of our comfort zone and into our best lives!
Andrea, excellent, inspiring post on learning to follow your dreams even when it’s scary. Congratulations on staying the course for a whole year, taking risks, and moving beyond your comfort zones. I can so relate to what you wrote about staying in jobs that made you miserable rather than taking the risks to have your own business that would make you happy. I’m at an age, now, when I’m much less willing to compromise my dreams and much more willing to put myself out there. In my case, it’s chronic illness that has held me back and made me have to fight for every small bit of progress, but things are starting to change for me, and I’m doing a lot more of what I love.
I too am one that was afraid of my dreams, didn’t think any of them were possible and didn’t believe I was good enough to go after them. But now, like you I have chosen to change that way of life and go after what I truly want. And it is reading inspiring posts such as this that so help keep me going!
OH man I have so many hopes and dreams that I can’t seem to accomplish!
Like you said, every time I start I get cold feet and stop. Like I can’t pull it off or something.
I’m trying to ignore it now and go for it anyways because I want it so much!
We shall see what happens! THank you for the inspirational post that you are successfully doing what you love!
Great questions! I need to re-read and re-read this post. I have endless excuses for why I am not doing what I wish I were doing. At the same time, I’m making compromises and following my heart so that, at least in the context of my present circumstances (divorced mother of 3 kids, two of whom are still at home), I am doing what I can to be true to my dreams. It is a constant mental/emotional battle with myself and I am growing weary. There are some days that I just want to throw in the towel and go apply for a 9-5. Sometimes, I think circumstances do dictate that one “blooms where they are planted.” Now, for me, is one of those times. So, also, it is important to see certain consequences as blessings.