How to finally start doing something about your dreams
Do you find yourself having great dreams and plans but never actually getting closer to reaching them?
These are usually the things that are not urgent but you know they could be potentially life-changing:
Starting your own blog
Writing a book
Building an app
Starting a side business
Learning a new skill
You’re always tired at the end of the day and there are so many comfortable things to do. Netflix has so many interesting shows, new video games are coming out, sports are on TV and on, on, on.
You deserve to rest so you give in to distractions.
This leads us to keep these fuzzy plans, long-term goals, and dreams only in our heads. I’m going to achieve this and that someday. But as the saying goes, someday is not a day of the week.
These vague plans keep us somewhat satisfied because they provide a sense of optimism about our future every time we daydream about them. We naively think that we will have more energy and time in the future so it won’t be a problem achieving them. Someday...
However, these fuzzy plans also keep us discontent because we never reach them.
Why do we do this?
There are 5 main reasons:
1. You don’t want to get after these goals, they’re just things you would like to have done…
Everyone would like to have a successful business, not everyone would like to deal with the everyday hassle and stress.
Everyone would like to be muscular, not everyone would like to go to the gym 4-6 times a week, and be strict in what they eat.
Everyone would like to be happily married, not everyone wants to deal with the possibility of being rejected, working on a relationship, and so on.
When you like to have done something instead of really wanting to do the daily execution, that’s a non-starter.
2. It’s not your dream… it’s someone else's
These come mainly from social pressure... The society or family wants us to do something. Over time we adjust to this social pressure and start thinking that these are the goals we want to pursue.
You do it for others.
Finishing a degree you don’t need to make your parents happy.
Pursuing a career you don’t like just because you could make money.
Traveling the world so you can get social approval through cute Instagram posts.
Marrying someone because you have been together for a long time.
Deep down we know it’s not aligned with who we are or want to be. We only think we do, but we don’t.
3. Being specific about your dreams means responsibility
Keeping your dreams vague saves you from failure because when you don’t specify goals, you can’t fail. When you set a goal like “start a side business” - you can potentially fail. This makes us balk at pursuing goals.
When you sit down and write your goals down, it places responsibility on you to pursue them.
It means you’d have to start taking action. That means work, negative emotions, maybe frustration.
Most people don’t want this responsibility so they keep their goals fuzzy.
4. If you commit you might also miss out on other things
We don’t want to commit to something because that means if a better opportunity comes along, we might miss it. This is often described as the fear of missing out (FOMO).
Consider trade-off scenarios:
Traveling a lot → a lot of acquaintances
Staying in one place → strong friendships, community
Finding a work that feels like play
Working to allow you to afford other hobbies
Being a generalist
Being a specialist
When you have many choices, you can get paralyzed by analysis, which also leads to a lack of commitment.
5. We like to stay comfortable so we give in to distractions
Maybe you would really like to get after it, it’s your dream, and you don’t have any issue writing the goal down.
But just not now… After you finish that show or that game… You’re tired. Not today.
When you’re comfortable, it’s difficult to start moving. Plus, having the dreams in your head makes you somewhat satisfied because you’re going to reach them in the future anyway, right?
How to overcome this
1. Decide on whether you really want it
How to find out whether you really want to do something?
You need time to think for yourself. Contemplating, self-analyzing, writing a diary, getting bored, and clearing your thoughts will help you realize what you want.
However, please, don’t overthink it because: most of the time you don’t know how it feels like until you try it out. Maybe you’re seeing the journey through rose-colored glasses and then you realize the reality is different. Often we imagine, we would like doing something but when we actually get to it, we don’t. That’s why you have to keep exploring to discover your goals.
If something doesn’t make you tick, it is fine!
There are so many interesting things to pursue so why waste time doing something that you don’t like.
If you find out that someone else put the goal in your mind and you don’t want it, drop the goal if possible. You don’t want to waste time and energy pursuing someone else's dream. That doesn’t mean you don’t want to make other people happy. You want to make them happy if it is aligned with yourself.
2. Overcome being comfortable
The thing is, the time for dreams won’t magically appear. You need to actively make time.
You might be arguing: But I deserve to rest! Rest is important… Yes, we know, we talk a lot about the importance of enjoying leisure, planning your leisure time, etc. However, more often than not, people are too much on the comfortable side of things.
This doesn’t mean that you have to deprive yourself of any fun, forever, but it can well mean that you’ll sacrifice an evening or 3 of Netflix binges in order to kickstart the process of pursuing your dreams by putting plenty of time into it. It’s unavoidable. The funny thing is that you’ll often feel better after a couple hours of getting after it than you’d feel after watching TV shows or scrolling TikTok for 3 hours. You’ll go to bed exhausted, but happy.
And after all, if you ever feel like you’re not having enough leisure, you can always put more time into it. Work is hard, rest is easy.
Inspiration and discontent to the rescue
If you struggle with being too comfortable, you need to get inspired to make this happen.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you go and watch a few inspirational videos on Youtube and go do something.
It can also mean that something makes you mad, or you get jealous about someone achieving something you wanted to do. You feel discontent, and you want to change.
I also want to do this. I can do it better.
That’s great! Now you know your Why. This Why can fuel your motivation.
Once you get going, it will get easier, because you will see the progress. Once you get momentum going, you will not want to stop. Maybe you will realize that you don’t want to spend your evening watching Netflix because your side gig is so much fun…
3. Specify your dreams
Do you feel uncomfortable when you’re supposed to write down your goals? Why are you avoiding it?
Are you scared of failing? Are you scared that you’re going to feel like a failure?
Ask this question: What is the worst thing that could happen?
And after you answer this: How can you minimize the risk of it happening?
Usually, when we specify the worst things that could happen, our fear dissipates.
Failure is not lethal. Think about everything as a learning opportunity. If you struggle with the fear of failure, be sure to check out this article on how to overcome the fear of failure.
If you don’t start you’ve already failed
If you think about it, when you don’t make your goals specific, you’re already failing anyway. You just don’t know about it yet. You don’t want to think about it.
4. Treat every goal/plan as an experiment
To overcome FOMO and paralysis by analysis, you need to ensure your brain that if something better comes along, you can always switch the tracks or adjust your course.
You can always return back to the state you’re in now…
But for now, if you want to achieve your dreams you have to commit and go for it all in. Try an experiment. How would it feel if you spent all your spare time pursuing your dreams (like learning a new skill)? Do it for a weekend, a week, a month, or 3 months and see where it gets you.
If you feel deprived of leisure, you can always return back to normalcy.
Treating this plan as an experiment will also lessen the fear of failure you might feel when you’re committing. You’re just experimenting, so even a failure will teach you something.
Go on, do a little experiment.
So let’s say you really want to pursue your dreams.
Realize it’s something you really want to do.
Decide to stop being comfortable at least for a while.
Specify your dreams by writing them down (do this today).
Treat every goal (plan, dream) as an experiment.
The above is already a great start! But plans you don’t execute on are still just dreams.
Now you can move to the daily execution phase which we covered here.