With the turn of the new year, lots of people are thinking about resolutions and dreams. We all want to make the most of the year, and to make it count. We talk about making this the year we finally check things off our bucket lists.
Yet more often than not, those items stay on our bucket lists. And we repeat the same declarations next year.
We get caught in that cycle, because we struggle to go after those dreams. And most of the time, what we struggle with the most is the first step.
That first step towards our dreams is always the scariest and toughest. That first step comes with uncertainty. It comes with the possibility of failure and rejection. It means putting ourselves and our dream on the line.
Yes, it’s scary. Our dreams mean a lot to us, which makes it even scarier. But that fear doesn’t have to get in the way of us taking that first step, and there are things we can do to make that first step less scary. Here are three.
1) Surround yourself with the right people
No matter how good you are at facing and overcoming your fears, there will always be times when you get to the edge, and can’t quite seem to take the leap. I’ve been there myself. During those times, it really helps to have people who will push you and support you. For me, that was often my business coach Ishita Gupta. For you, it might not have to be a coach. Maybe it’s a best friend, or your spouse or your family. But it’s important to have that community around you – people who inspire you and push you and make you feel safe and comfortable enough to go for anything. Find those people, hold on to them.
2) Break down your goal into the smallest steps
I’ve played piano since I was 4, and guitar since I was 14. And I’d always dreamed of having my own concert and performing on stage. So, when I was 18, I decided I would make that happen. And as you can imagine, I was terrified. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. It was a huge, scary, daunting dream to go for. So, I broke it down into smaller steps. First, I needed songs. That was easy. I planned a set list, with some covers and some of the songs I wrote. Next, I needed a location. Finding and renting a concert hall cost a bit of money, but was doable. Third, I needed people. I started by inviting all my friends and family. But I also wanted to get people who I didn’t know to come. So I created some flyers (again, not a hard thing to do), printed a couple of hundred and distributed them on the streets. This last step was hard and scary. Especially for me, because I’m an introvert at heart, and it’s really scary for me to approach strangers on the street. But that was all I had left to do. Instead of the original goal of “hold a concert”, I now had a much simpler goal of “distribute 200 flyers”. I managed to do that in the space of 4 hours.
When you break down your goal into the smallest possible step, it becomes much less daunting. And as you make progress, and take one small step at a time, you’ll gain more and more momentum and confidence – and be able to keep going further.
3) Practice doing scary things
Here’s some bad news: that fear is never really going to go away. Fear will always be there. We’re human, it’s natural. All we can do is get better at not letting that fear hold us back from our dreams. We can learn to let that fear guide us, and to dance with it – instead of letting it stop us. That’s a skill – and like any skill, you get better at it with practice.The more you do the things that scare you, the better you’ll get at it. And I’m not talking about skydiving and bungee jumping (though those are all well and good). I’m talking about the things that bring about fear of rejection and failure. Reaching out to someone you’ve always admired. Sharing your thoughts and opinions with the world. Taking on projects that might not work.
Because the things that mean the most, and have the biggest impact – our dreams – often are things that might not work. But they’re still worth pursuing anyway.