Lately I've had the opportunity to speak with several people about their dreams...the big dreams, the ones that most of us think are not in the realm of possibility, the ones we don't usually talk about out loud in fear that they seem too absurd. I love having these conversations because it gives me an opportunity to see people in their most vulnerable state, excited at the prospect of what could be. Despite the almost tangible energy buzzing around, there is usually a shift that happens. As self-doubt creeps in, the person sharing their big dream starts saying things like....well, I don't really have the skills for that....I mean, I know I'm not there yet....maybe it's unrealistic, but...I'm not even sure what that really looks like...I know there are a ton of talented people already doing similar work, so I'm not sure that the world needs another [insert literally anything here]...
After offering up a series of caveats and reasons why the "big dream" is unlikely, people start breaking the dream apart and consider settling for what seems more reasonable. Maybe I'll never be traveling and speaking, but maybe I can lead a group of two or three women. Maybe I'll never publish a book so I'll just start a blog. Maybe I'll never be able to sustain myself selling my art, so I'll just do a few small quiet pieces for my closest friends. Yes- we all have to start somewhere, but if you only ever build for what you think is possible, that's all you'll ever accomplish. You have to hustle with the idea that anything is possible. The only chance you have at reaching that big scary dream is if you plan for it and build as if you are working towards the reality of that dream. It's okay to start a blog or lead a small group of women or make art for those you love. There's nothing inherently wrong with those things. They become problematic when you have a bigger dream and you begin to believe that these are the only things you are capable of. They should be steps in the journey, not your final destination.
Before you interrupt me with your self-doubts of "but, but, but"...look around you. Almost everyone who is living out their "big dream" is there because of hard work, determination, a commitment to not be deterred when things got hard, and a little bit of luck. Chrissy Metz, the star of "This is Us" told Glamour magazine that she had $.81 in her bank account when she booked the show. She was so determined to fulfill her dream that she held out even when it didn't seem possible and when she was just about ready to fold, she turned a corner and booked the gig that would forever change her life. Now, I'm not suggesting that anyone "risk it all" in an effort to reach their end goal, and we all have boundaries we are comfortable operating in, but what I am saying is that you shouldn't let the gap between where you are today and where you want to be keep you from making small steps everyday towards that dream. You never know what's right around the corner.
The other thing that Chrissy had that undoubtedly helped immensely is a group of people who believed in her vision and spoke into it, both in word and in tangible ways. Friends and family spoke life into her, they offered practical help, they cooked her meals and ran lines with her. So, I challenge you not only to work as if your big dream is possible, but to also surround yourself with people who will support your journey towards that big dream. "Support" doesn't mean mindless and trite encouragement. I'm talking about people who believe so much in you and your vision that they are willing to invest in it- emotionally, mentally, maybe financially. You need some "ride or die" people who are going to help you pick up the pieces when you are about to fall apart, people who are going to think critically about your work and your next steps to help you overcome the barriers you will face, people who will give you the hard feedback you need to hear in order to improve beyond where you are today, people who can see what the world would look like if you were doing "your thing" and are willing to fight for a world where that is happening.
It will not always be easy, you will fail, you will face more barriers than you can probably ever imagine, but I am a firm believer that it is far better to reach the end of our days having taken some risks and failed than to wonder what life would have looked like had we tried. You get to choose how you will spend your days- hustling to achieve your own dream, settling for a small piece of that dream that will never feel like enough, or working to help somebody else fulfill their dream. It's really that simple. And here's the deal- you will only ever achieve what you work for. Your "big dream" is never just going to show up on your doorstep, and even if it did happen that way, I doubt you or I would have the confidence to welcome them into our lives. If you are ready to craft the life you crave, stop offering up caveats and all the reasons why you can't or why it isn't possible, and make a plan that allows you to take small steps towards that life every single day. Before you know it, I have no doubt that you will look up and find that you are doing bigger things than you ever could have fathomed and that the hustle was so worth it. Now, go make a plan and get that dream- I have no doubt in my mind that you or I can do anything we set our minds to and are willing to work for as if our life depended on it. In so many ways, the reality of us living our "best lives" does depend on it.