If you were to take the next minute and write down your dreams, how many would you write? Would you get two, five, eight or maybe even 0? Why is that? Why, as adults, have we stopped dreaming or, worst yet, stopped going after and achieving our dreams?
Well-known sociology professor and Christian speaker Tony Compolo held a study where he interviewed 50 people over the age of 95 and asked what they would do differently if given the opportunity to live life over again. The three most common answers were:
1. Reflect more: They would stop and cherish things that they took for granted.
2. Do more things that will live on after you’re dead like living for testimony over title and positively impacting others’ lives.
3. Risk More: Not criminal recklessness, but they wished they had gone after their dreams even if the risk was a gamble. This group regretted the risks and dreams not attempted.
Think back to your past when you did not allow your fears to prevent you from going after your dreams. Maybe it was moving away for college, pursuing a healthy lifestyle, getting married or becoming a parent. With each of these examples there were fears and uncertainty, but they lacked in comparison to the memories, experiences and growth that were achieved by taking the risks.
Since we have taken risks in the past and have had success, what then prevents you from taking more risks now? What causes us to play it safe?
1. Comfort: We grow comfortable with where we are and feel that dreaming or taking a risk is just too big a gamble. We give too much power to outside circumstances and allow those circumstances to dictate our actions.
2. The What if’s or Until’s:
a. What if I look stupid? What if others find out? What if I fail? What if it’s not perfect? What if I succeed?
b. Not until the kids are gone. Not until we are out of debt. Not until I’m in shape. Not until it’s the weekend.
How much time have we wasted waiting for the right opportunity or moment? How many days, weeks, months or years have we chosen to “Not Act.” To do something or to do nothing takes the same amount of time, so wouldn’t we rather be exhausted having tried something instead of being tired having done nothing?
3. The Past: We have tried something in the past and it didn’t work out. We tell ourselves that we failed, but instead of pivoting, we quit. These experiences create so much negative self-talk and apathy that we convince ourselves we aren’t capable of achieving our dreams.
With these barriers in place, what’s our plan? How do we begin pursuing our dreams?
1. Just start! I often hear people say, “I’m waiting to discover my purpose” or “I’m trying to find my passion,” as if it is a scavenger hunt and it is just around the corner. Passion isn’t something we just find, it’s something we develop.
Think of how many people in America love sports and are deeply passionate about them. Where did they find this passion? Were they born with it or did they get into action and eventually uncover it? As youth, we were put into different sports programs, practiced, played, changed teams, developed and, for many, we eventually found a sport or sports that we loved and were good at. We committed ourselves to it, and over time, we developed a deep passion that is still with us to this day.
If you want to find your passion, then I suggest you just start doing something and pay attention to what excites you.
2. Be all in! You can’t know comfort and greatness at the same time. You must be all in. How many businesses, relationships and dreams failed because we tried to play it safe? We said we wanted it to work, but we really didn’t give it our all. If you want to achieve your dreams, then there are no half-efforts!
3. Do it together! Life is just more fun when you live it with a team. Teams create accountability, a sense of urgency and give us a support system that allows us to make it through difficult times. If I know my team is counting on me or that my buddy will be meeting me tomorrow morning at 5 a.m. to run, I am much more likely show up and get things done.
4. Don’t stop! If we want to achieve our goals, we can’t stop. We must have grit! This will be the single most important factor in achieving your goals. Those who have grit won’t stop until they achieve their goal. Just think of watching a baby learn to walk. The goal is to learn to walk, not to walk in a day, week or month, but to walk. A baby doesn’t care about the length of the journey, just that they walk. So, we should not be so concerned with the time it takes for us to achieve our dreams, rather that we pursue them relentlessly.
As our 2019 is quickly coming to an end and we prepare to launch into the New Year, let us remember a quote from Diane Ackerman: “Don’t let us get to the end of our life having only lived its length. Let us have lived its width as well!”
Be a Champion Today!
Brandon Buck is CEO and owner of Infinite Strengths, a Boise-based coaching company.