How many dreams do we put aside because we are afraid of what people might think if they saw us trying and it didn’t work out? No one ever wants people to witness them fail. I remember my friend, Chris, never learned to jump rope as a kid because she was so embarrassed every time she fell in front of her friends. That kind of hesitation doesn’t end in childhood — especially for women. Thanks to the fear of stumbling, women are less likely to negotiate for the promotion they want and the salary they need.
I recently talked with a very successful woman who said she had an idea for starting her own company but she couldn’t get up the courage to tell anyone about it. She didn’t want people to know that she had absolutely no knowledge of how to start a business. She works at a senior level in a large corporation but doesn’t have exposure to actually operating the financial end of things. She felt she should already have the information and that people would think less of her if she asked anyone for help. I know people who want to write a book, run for public office, change careers, learn to dance, but they don’t. Why? Because the voice in their head tells them it’s not ok to even try. Because after all — Who do you think you are? What’s the big idea?
Here are a few thoughts on how to make the voice of doubt go away:
1. Write down what everything will look and feel like once you have successfully achieved your goal. Describe in as much detail as possible where you will be living, who you will be surrounded by, how much money you will have in the bank, etc. Often the reason people feel foolish when they talk about something they want to do is that they haven’t really thought through what getting to the end goal really looks like. I’ve noticed that the greatest successes in life happen when someone can actually envision and describe what it is they want.
2. Make a list of what is in the way of your dream and consider all the actions you can take to overcome them. You have to change what you are spending time on if you want a different outcome. Too often the excuse, “I don’t have time,” becomes a barrier. If this is the case, make a list of five things you will stop putting energy into right now to free up your time to pursue your dream. If you can’t stop all five at once, commit to stopping one item each week and replacing it with tasks related to getting what you want.
3. Your idea, passion and desire to try something different need to be let out of your head. Isolation kills dreams. Dreams not shared are seldom realized. Seek out someone who successfully did what you are thinking of doing. It won’t be surprising to learn that they wrestled with the same doubts and fears. Since they are successful, they will most likely be enthusiastic. To make the leap from “Who do you think you are” to “ I can do anything” you need encouragement and affirmation. You need to change the conversation in your head.
4. List the worst things that can happen if you try what you want to do and it doesn’t work out. Then ask yourself if you think you can live through it.
5. Eliminate the following phrases from your vocabulary: I’ll try, I wish, I can’t, I should. Instead use more of these: I will, I can, I did.
Here’s the big idea: Live a life that you love — you deserve it.
Anne Saile is an award-winning CEO, entrepreneur, executive coach, author and owner of the Saile Group LLC, a leadership and business consulting company. For more information, visit sailegroup.com.