How to Make the First Step Towards Our Dreams Less Scary

Jan 12, 2017

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.

Tired of letting your fears hold you back from doing what you love?

Get my free PDF action guide, where you’ll learn about the 5 most common fears we face, and get simple action steps to help you conquer those fears.

What is normal?

Nov 23, 2016

As a kid, I used to have asthma. I haven’t had a full-blown attack since I was 7. But for as long as I can remember, if I exerted myself too much (workouts, playing soccer, etc), my chest would start getting slightly tighter. I only found out about a couple of months ago that this wasn’t a universal thing. That to most of the world, that wasn’t normal.

But for me, it was. I grew up with it. I always thought that it was just a normal reaction to exercise – part of breathlessness and tiredness.

It made me realize just how much of our experience in the world is coloured by our own past and history. Other people, with other experiences and histories, see and experience the world in completely different ways

There really isn’t any “normal”. There’s normal for us – based on what we’re used to seeing in the world. What we can do is recognize that, embrace it – and try to see what other people see, in order to understand how they experience the world.

Destruction and Creation

Nov 13, 2016

The French phrase “aujourd’hui” came from the Old Latin phrase “hoc die”. Then it evolved, becoming hodie” -> “hui” -> “au jour d’hui” -> “aujourd’hui”.

It’s important to note that the evolution started with destruction – loss of syllables of “hoc die” to “hodie” to hui”. Only from that point of destruction, did the combination of other things take place and lead to the creation of a new word.

Creation and destruction often go hand in hand.

We see this everywhere.

Sculptures come from chiseling away blocks of stone, so that what remains is a beautiful work of art.

Cooking happens only after you cut off a part of a plant or animal, and place it over heat to break it down further. Once it’s broken down, that’s when the flavors come alive and fuse with other ingredients. But it starts from breaking down your ingredients first.

If we want to create – to make something beautiful, different, new – often, we have to start from breaking down what’s already there.

Don’t live each day like it’s your last

Oct 31, 2016

It’s a nice sentiment, and it reminds us to make the most of our time. But it’s not something you should actually do.

If you live each day like it’s your last, there’s no room for growth. There’s no place for learning and improving, for practice, for small consistent actions that will make an impact in the long run. And those are the things that will truly get you where you want to be.

So don’t live each day like it’s your last. You have a tomorrow (and a next month and a next year) to build towards. But live each day like it matters – because it does.