“Follow your dreams” are words we hear a little too often. Society endlessly preaches this sentiment, but no one tells you how to actually go about doing it. On the contrary, life – for the most part – is spent playing it safe in order to avoid failure or embarrassment. Below, we’ve identified the key mind frames that often prevent people from achieving their dreams, along with three strategies to overcome them.
Conquer Your Fear of the Unknown
Fear is a vital response to any perceived physical or emotional danger. However, you may often fear situations that are far from being life threatening. Every time you feel threatened, your body has an instinctive response – you either prepare to fight (which readies you for the threatening situation) or run away from the situation you fear, unable to do anything. When you have a dream you want to chase, it is usually a fear of the unknown that stops you in your tracks.
Every time you are ready to make a change in your life and step outside of your comfort zone, your mind starts asking questions like: Is this really the right thing to do? If I make a change, how will I know if this is the right decision? Most of us find it very hard to face these fears and fight for what we really want, especially as there is so much uncertainty ahead. However, this is nothing more than a mental obstacle that you need to train yourself to overcome. A powerful tool in overcoming this fear is the power of visualization. Imagine your success – what does it look like, taste like, feel like? Practise daily.
Remember: It's Not Actually Possible to Live without Failing
Every time you try to do something new, the fear that you will not succeed may stop you from even trying. But think about why you are so terrified of failing. It could be due to the fact that the world around you shows great respect to those who succeed. Taking a closer look at the world’s heroes, however, paints a very different picture. A perfect example is legendary athlete Michael Jordan, who was cut from his high-school basketball team because his coach thought he wasn’t good enough. Or entrepreneur Warren Buffet, who was rejected by Harvard University and went on to become one of the most successful businessmen in the world. Similarly, Steven Spielberg was rejected twice by the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, while J.K. Rowling was living on welfare prior to releasing the Harry Potter series.
It’s crucial to think about these examples and remember that it’s not possible to live life without failing from time to time. The important thing about failure is that you get to decide how you utilize it. You can either choose to accept failure as the stopping mechanism that discourages you from trying again and makes you stay put in life, or you can choose to see failure as a learning curve, where the mistakes are seen as a lesson learnt. This is what the people who eventually became successful chose to do. They learned from their mistakes and swiftly moved on, as opposed to dwelling on them.
Don't 'Should' Yourself
Many of us live with a number of “shoulds” and “musts” in place. These self-imposed rules start very early in our lives and continue through to our adult years. Just think of how many times you utter the word “should”: I should do X/I should have known better/What should I do? All of these “shoulds” put a lot of pressure on you and those around you. For example, “You should never leave a job that pays well to go chase your dreams.”
These statements or rules often create a clash between what we should be doing and what we feel. If left unresolved, this may lead to feelings of guilt, depression, and obsessing about what has already been done. To counteract this behavior, try asking yourself throughout the day, “Am I doing this because I want to or because I should?” Simply identifying the difference will have a big impact on helping you determine exactly how your time and energy is spent, both of which are necessary for achieving your dreams.
Sophia Fromell is a Dubai-based life coach working at Ithaca Life.
Promo Photo: Courtesy of @TaraMilkTea