I’m willing to bet that there’s something you’ve always wanted to do.
It could be that you’ve always wanted to write a novel. Maybe you want to visit Africa or want to see the Northern Lights. Perhaps you’d love to open a little coffee shop or brasserie in your neighbourhood or maybe you’ve had brainwave for a neat little product that just might change the world.
You’re not alone. We all have things we dream about and things we’d love to do, and it’s rare that these things ever see the light of day.
Fear steps in – sometimes in the guise of practicality and sometimes wearing the hat of playing it safe – and provides all kinds of reasons why you can’t have what you want.
So you persuade yourself that it’s a pipe dream and that it could never actually happen because you wouldn’t know where to start, couldn’t afford it and it probably wouldn’t work anyway. You lose faith in your ability to make your dream reality, and lose a little faith in yourself in the process.
The tragedy is that the more you apply a filter to what you wish for and train yourself to think small, the less confident you become in your ability to do anything that matters very much. Worse than that, you set yourself tiny dreams that aren’t hard to reach, and you reach them.
But hang on a second. What if those big things were possible? What if you really could make some or all of it happen? What if it turned out that you did have what it takes to see something special come to life? Wouldn’t that be something you’d leap at?
Here are my 3 steps to doing what you’ve always wanted to do.
1. Open it up
First of all you need to do some leg work. Investigate what might be needed to get going, look for resources that can inform and help, seek out other people who might have done something similar and talk to those who’ve been there, done that.
There’s no risk here – it’s simply learning about what’s involved, picking up the key strategies that have been used successfully before and gathering together the ideas and resources that you believe will help you to get things moving.
Write down all the questions you have about what you want to do and then go answer them. It’s possible that as you open things up you find that the reality isn’t what you expected and that it isn’t really your thing after all. That’s fine – now you know. But the opportunity to answer the questions you have and fill in those blanks is invaluable, and you might just find yourself getting pretty darn excited about what you’re discovering.
2. Make your choice
You’ve opened it up and answered a heap of questions you had – now you need to make your choice. There are 2 ways to help with this decision making.
Look at what really matters to you, not what doesn’t matter. If engaging with this project is something that really resonates with you then listen to that. If you’ll grow and get enjoyment out of doing this, no matter how it turns out, then listen to that. Don’t let any fears you have squash and stamp on what matters.
Consider where your priorities are and what might need to change. You have other things going on (your family, finances, career, hobbies, relationship, etc) and you need to be clear about what’s at the top of your list. You need to figure out what compromises you’re willing to make in terms of the time and energy you have available, and you need to figure out the boundaries and deal breakers of your priorities. You might find that your priorities are such that now isn’t the right time to get going with this, but that doesn’t have to be the end of it. Just figure out what criteria needs to be satisfied for you to start.
Once you’ve figured those 2 things out, make your choice and commit to it. That commitment is what will carry you through, and it’s an attitude and a way of behaving that shapes your experience and behaviour as you go forwards.
3. Do one thing
When you’ve made your choice to start, do one thing today. Just one thing. Then do one more thing tomorrow.
Do one thing, then another, then another (no matter how big or small) and you’ll make progress. By doing just one thing a day you’ll be 365 steps forward a year from now. Don’t get overwhelmed with the apparent size or complexity of what you’re tackling. No task is bigger than your capability and you just need to chunk it down into bite-sized pieces and tackle each one in turn.
And if something doesn’t turn out the way you expected or hoped, don’t sweat it. You have the next day to try things a different way or tackle things from another direction. You’ll never be able to control how everything turns out so don’t beat yourself up – just keep checking where you are, making your choice and taking another step.
These 3 steps can be applied universally to do the things you’ve always wanted. So tell me, what do you want?