Are We Sabotaging Our Dreams by Believing That They’re Impossible for Us?
You know that one dream you’ve really been thinking about for a while now? Why don’t you go for it?
It happens all the time. We go about our day and notice things and experiences we would like to have in our lives. But before we’ve even given ourselves the chance to plant the first seed, we give up on the idea and write it off as impossible. If someone asks why we don’t go for it, we reply with “I can’t just______.”
Have you examined the reasons why you can’t?
Has someone else been able to achieve it? Is it truly a mission impossible or are you deciding that the time and effort you would need to put in is not worth it to you?
Ideas can be turned into reality over time. Statues can be molded out of clay. When we forget this, we resort to I CAN’T as our excuse for deciding to not go after a dream.
The Odds Are That Your Dream Is Possible
I bet that if we drilled down into the things you want to do, we would find that 9 out of 10 are actually possible and can be done — just not immediately. They will require time and effort.
The question then becomes how deeply we desire turning that vision into reality versus the time and effort required to get there.
When we decide not to take an action that would move us closer to our dreams, it is often out of fear. It might not work out, we could fail, we could get hurt. Our brain naturally wants to protect us from the danger of the unknown. That is why it feels better to keep things status quo, to live out the same comfortable routines day by day instead of pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones. After all that is where the danger lies, that is where the lion could jump out from behind the bushes and attack us…unless he doesn’t.
But if we never leap from the edge, how will we ever know that we can fly?
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” — Henry Ford
We will never be fully ready. Sometimes we just have to trust in something greater and leap anyway.
First we must believe that what we want is possible. Once we are aware of the actions that would be necessary to get us there, we then have to decide whether we truly want it and whether we want to turn that CAN’T into I COULD (if I really wanted to). Knowing that we CAN opens the door to creating a vision, setting a goal, and implementing a strategy.
Turning I CAN’Ts into I COULDs
STEP ONE: Narrow Down Your Most Burning Desires
Make a list of some of the top things you want to be, do, and experience that you have been saying that you can’t. Think about the ones that keep you up at night, the ones you have been desiring for a long time.
STEP TWO: Consider How It COULD Be Done
Take your “I CAN’T JUST……” and turn it into “I COULD, BUT I WOULD HAVE TO….” and fill it in with a list of the actions that you would probably need to take in order to achieve the goal, including all of the trade-offs you would have to make.
This will help you weigh whether it is a goal you truly want to pursue based on the effort that will be needed.
- If your desire truly is impossible because of certain circumstances such as a severe health condition, re-consider how else you could achieve the feeling that you think achieving this goal would bring you. Even if we think the thing or experience is what we want, it’s really the feeling that we think it will bring us that we desire.
Do you want to experience more of the beauty and diversity of this planet through travel? Perhaps you don’t think it’s possible because you don’t have enough money saved up, you have a mortgage, you have kids, you have (fill in your “CAN’T”).
On the surface, those are all very legitimate reasons to mark that goal as “impossible.” But if you go a little deeper, you may find that there are more than enough strategies you could pursue to make it happen if you really wanted to. All of these actions will require time and effort and will naturally have both positive and negative consequences.
I am using the example of travel since it is one near to my heart and one that many people say they want to experience.
My wanderlust wasn’t born overnight. It took years to actually figure out a plan in my mind for how we were going to start our longer-term travels around Europe. I knew it was possible, but it took a while to figure out the exact steps that would need to be taken. Believing in the possibility started the wheels turning. I then spent many nights researching ideas on how one can travel without spending too much money.
Eventually I came across the Workaway website and once I was aware of the opportunities that these work and cultural exchanges presented, I started setting other things into motion to ensure that this dream wasn’t just going to end up finishing the sentence “When I was younger, I wish I would have…”
I decided that I wanted to do this as soon as possible and that I was ready to take the necessary actions and make the required trade-offs.
STEP THREE: Decide If You Are Willing To Accept the Trade-offs
Once you come to terms with the fact that what you want is actually achievable, you can start weeding out the goals that truly matter to you.
- Does the benefit of the dream you’re after outweigh the consistent actions you would have to take to get there?
If you find that there are too many trade-offs and sacrifices to make, this exercise has still helped you. Now you know that YOU are making the decision to not pursue that goal because you value other things more. The universe isn’t conspiring against you — you are simply deciding that given the trade-offs, you would be giving up on a dream you’re already living.
If this exercise makes you realize that you are happy with what you have and where you’re at, GREAT! Be grateful for the beautiful life you do have!
Realizing how much you value what you do have and becoming grateful for that will help you achieve what you’re after anyway — the feeling of happiness you thought you were seeking from that external thing or experience.
Happiness lies in realizing that you are already surrounded by many amazing things that you have already achieved. It lies in the freedom of knowing that you are always at choice about where you choose to direct your willpower and energy.
- If you still feel that you wish to pursue that dream despite the effort it will take, then it’s time to turn that dream into a vision. That vision will drive you forward to setting goals which can be advanced towards by prioritizing.
“Instead of saying I’m too busy, say it’s not a priority and see how that feels.” — Mel Robbins
STEP FOUR: Start Now By Taking a Tiny Step
If you have decided that your dream is possible and that you are willing and able to take the steps necessary, start now. Start by researching what you don’t know — perhaps you’re only a few Google searches away from being able to craft an initial plan of action.
Allocating Time To Priorities
We all have the same 24 hours in our day. Once we have a vision of what we want to achieve and prioritize the actions that need to be taken to get there, we can’t say that we didn’t have the time — we just chose to focus on something else instead.
Although the possibilities we can choose from are literally infinite, the nature of physical reality is such that choosing one possibility means excluding another.
Allocating our time to one thing naturally means that we can’t use that same time to do something else.
Choosing to run a marathon means allocating many hours a week to training and perhaps waking up earlier than we’re used to. Choosing to pursue a degree means allocating time to go to school and studying while our friends are going out. Choosing to advance ourselves in our careers or business means allocating time to the tasks and projects that need to be done even if there are other enjoyable things we would rather be doing.
Patience, Sweet Child
Sometimes we may not feel like planting the seed — we will have to get our hands dirty, dig deep, and then consistently water it before the seed even starts spreading its roots and then sprouting.
It took nine months for your body to be formed.
Why are we so impatient when it comes to being pregnant with the possibility of carrying our dreams to full term, enjoying the gestation process?
The tiny steps you take, the drops of sweat you will shed, the self-discipline and perseverance you’ll master — these will build your dream on a solid foundation. That is what counts. Because even if it takes longer than anticipated, even if you fail, you will have grown along the way. Perhaps that will spark the flame to create something even more magnificent.
Don’t you see — everything you’ve been through up until now has been preparing you for this moment?
You have made it this far and you can make it as far as you now decide to go.