“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” – George Addair
Have you ever wondered why some of the most talented or creative people you know are not living their dreams? Maybe you are one of them.
You might wish to start your own business. Or dream of writing a best-selling novel. Or thought about publishing the cartoons you draw in your spare time. Maybe you’ve always loved music or poetry or dance. Or you’ve always wanted to be a famous public speaker. Or travel the world.
It doesn’t matter what your dream is. The only question to ask yourself is are you moving towards your dream or sitting on the sidelines waiting for something to happen?
If you’re still sitting on the sidelines, fear is likely nearby.
That’s probably not the response you expected, right? You probably thought I was going to talk about your lack of discipline or your failure to take action?
But the truth is, you’ve likely accomplished many things in your life already. You finished high school. Probably went to college. Got a good job. You might be raising a family. You pay your bills on time. You can drive, balance your checkbook or coach your son’s Little League games. If you’ve done any or all of these things, you know all about taking action and getting results.
You also know how to move towards your dreams. But you don’t, because you’re afraid.
- Afraid of what other people might think.
- Afraid you’ll fail.
- Afraid you’ll make a fool of yourself.
- Afraid that your wife or husband, mom or dad, or boss or coworkers won’t approve.
You’re afraid of the little voice in your head that says “Who do you think you are to _____” – fill in the blank with whatever you like – sing, dance, paint, draw, act, start a business, travel etc., etc.
So you go on living your ordinary life. And every once in a while you feel a pull towards your dream. You see an ad for an acting class you might want to take. Or you see someone on a talk show discussing their newly published novel. Or you talk to a friend who just got back from a fabulous trip to Hawaii.
You think, “I wish I could ____, but I can’t becauseâ€¦”
After the word ‘because’ you add all kinds of rational explanations:
- Because I don’t have time
- Because I don’t have enough money
- Because I’m not good at X or Y
- Because I don’t have the talent or the knowledge or the charisma or whateverâ€¦
All these explanations sound reasonable and right, but they’re really just fear in disguise.
You see, we think that people who have accomplished great things do them without fear. We take the fear responses in our mind as confirmation that we should STOP. That we shouldn’t do the thing we want to do the most. We think that we need to wait for the fear to go away before we can act.
But the opposite is actually true. When we dream, we’re thinking about possibilities for our lives that haven’t happened yet. Our rational minds don’t like facing the unknown. The rational mind likes things to be straightforward. It needs a carefully laid out plan.
But dreams don’t work this way. There are many unknowns. Many places to get stuck. Our rational mind works to protect us from uncertainty and failure. But if we only ever do the rational things that make sense, our lives become predictable and boring.
To follow any dream, we need to learn to test the limits of our comfort zone. In short, we need to feel the fear and do it anyway. It’s the only way we grow. It’s the only way we can make our dreams reality.
So if you have a dream and you’re tired of sitting on the sidelines, start challenging your fear with small steps.
If you want to paint, buy some painting supplies. If you want to sing, find a karaoke bar and sing your heart out. If you want to start a business, start talking with people who own businesses. If you want to travel, pick up a travel brochure or research an area you want to visit.
Take one small step. Feel the fear and jump right in. Then take another step and another. Find a group of people who are doing what you want to do and join in. Before you know it, you’ll be on the path to your dream wondering why you didn’t start sooner.