What comes to mind when you think about what stands in the way between you and realizing your dream? I’d bet the most frequent response is “money”. Money can be an easy excuse for inaction. Sometimes you need to get “un-stuck”. Break down the fear, and look at a problem in smaller chunks. I’m sure we could add to this list, but here are 5 things that you can overcome to start taking real steps toward your goal.
1. You overestimate risk.
Sometimes I think the best paradox of humanity is how we think we are all so unique. Because we are, and yet we aren’t. So many people tell me about their plans to “go out on their own” someday. They just have to wait until (insert special circumstances here). They truly believe no one has the same obstacles that they do, no one has the same burden of responsibility, no one is possibily as busy with as much demand on their time, and so on. And they’re right. Sort of. It is highly unlikely that anyone has exactly the same personal and professional challenges as you do. But, guaranteed, everyone has something. We too often gaze through the looking glass and assume we know it all, from just a glimpse. What are the odds that every successful business owner was able to achieve that success because they have it so much easier than you?
2. You underestimate risk.
While people believe they have a clear view of all of the risks they face if they quit their job, they somehow don rose-colored glasses when assessing the security of their current positions. So you have a job. Will you still have it next year? How do you know? Because no one has told you otherwise? Trust me, you’ll be the last one anyone tells. Those friends you have at work, that you think will give you an early heads up if any trouble is looming, well they’re just as scared as you are. And yes, even those who feel pretty safe are still scared. How long could you last without a pay check? How many pay checks away from the abyss are you living?
3. You overvalue others.
I’m not exactly sure how to articulate what I’ve observed here, so I may stumble through it a bit. But it seems to me that part of buying in to the master-servant dynamic is believing that your employer is somehow better than you. That you must earn their benevolence in addition to the wages you receive for the work you do. That the best way to succeed in the corporate world is to be a team player, keep your head down, don’t make any waves. Appease the powerful monster that holds your fate in its grip. Why? Why can’t you express your opinions, contradict your boss, think outside the box, as long as you perform your work well? Why is political submission such a large part of corporate survival?
4. You undervalue yourself.
Somehow the combination of the first three end up convening to result in the tragic conclusion that you’re somehow deficient. Not good enough, young enough, smart enough, rich enough, confident enough, connected enough to be able to live life on your terms. But when you consider it, really consider it, you know deep down that it’s not reality. What are you passionate about? What are you good at? The two often align very well! Do you really need to win the lottery or get millions in funding before you can realize your dream? Before you can follow your own path? Break it down. Let’s say you love gardening, and you want to start a gardening service. Do you need to quit your job and buy a bunch of sophisticated landscaping equipment, and spend thousands on advertising just to try and live your dream? Couldn’t you start smaller? A small, part-time service for people you know; or maybe use your own garden adventures to write a book, or a blog about gardening. Would that make money? Would it eventually allow you to quit your day job? Is it a good idea? I don’t know. I don’t know anything about gardening. But I’m a firm believer in action over inaction.
5. You dream big, but that’s all.
Big and small are subjective to start with, but in this context, I simply mean them as they relate to each other. You dream about quitting your job and working for yourself. That’s big! But the only action you take is Googling “how to start a business” while at your day job. Yes, that’s a start, but it’s a small start. Doing your homework and researching is a great idea, but take it to the next level. Start a log of what you’re learning from the information that’s out there. Choose a business name and incorporate. Start a website. Talk to your friends and colleagues about your new product or service. Put yourself out there.
Risk rejection. Reap reward.
Each of us gets exactly one lifetime. You never get a chance for a full “do over”. So what are you waiting for? The bills will never be paid, because there will always be new bills. Life doesn’t get easier the longer you wait; it just gets shorter.