I was talking to a friend this week about the book I’m writing at the moment (the updated version of Obstacle Busting) and they asked how I stay open to all these Big Dreams and possibilities, rather than getting derailed onto safe paths by life. My first, instinctive answer was to shrug my shoulders and say “it’s what I do”. Which is true in a way – as a coach, my daily work is about being open to possibilities and Big Dreams, and helping my clients stay open to them too, clear anything getting in their way and keep going for the life they want.
But it’s an incomplete answer. The real answer is I stay open by allowing myself to dream, practicing the skills of Big Dream following and being as stubborn as a herd of mules (persistence). It’s not always easy, especially in a world that invites you to conform and live a ‘normal’ life, a world that questions and criticises anything new or different. But like many worthwhile things, it’s worth putting in the effort to stay open to dreams and possibilities and live a life you love.
So if you want to stay open to possibilities and Big Dreams, here are a few tips:
1. Allow yourself to dream
An openness to possibility and dreams starts with allowing yourself to dream in the first place. Do you know what you want from life? Do you know what dreams are hiding in your heart? Do you know what dreams are stirring in your soul? Have you taken a little time to think about what you want? It doesn’t take much just to think ‘what do I want?’ and allow yourself to dream.
Too often, people shut down at this stage because they don’t know what they want…but this is the most fun phase of all. You’re just dreaming, just thinking, just imagining, just enjoying possibility. And if you can do it with a light heart and a curious mind, it’s just FUN! And it’ll become second nature to listen to the dreams that are calling you once you’ve practiced for a while.
2. Practice following that dream
Dreams are lovely, they’re delicious and fun to comtemplate…but for them to come true, you have to move your ass and do something about it. Often, people get totally overwhelmed at this point, because they can’t see the whole route from where they are to where they want to be. So they freak themselves out, get stressed, and decide they can’t do it after all. But you only need to see the path in front of you.
Imagine driving on a dark road…you don’t stop because you can’t see your destination, 100 miles away! You can see just the road ahead, and that’s enough to keep going.
3. Practice ignoring “I can’t”s and “impossible”s
There was a time (not all that long ago) when I thought I wasn’t creative…at the same time as I had a Big Dream to write a book. And that Big Dream kept getting shoved under the carpet, put on the back burner, ignored, because I just wasn’t ready for it – I didn’t think I could do it. (This was actually after having written 2 ebooks…but let’s just ignore that fact, I did!) The dream persisted for me (Big Dreams have a tendency to do that), and kept tapping my shoulder, asking me to consider it. Eventually I was able to ignore the “I can’t”s and “impossible”s and carry on with following the dream.
Okay, sometimes you need to work through those “I can’t”s and “impossible”s, but most of the time, you’ll be ignoring them and carrying on regardless. The more you do this, the easier it becomes to just carry on anyway, even if you have fears and doubts.
4. Practice getting up after a fall or a stall
One of my favourite proverbs is “Fall down 100 times, get up 101”. Look, sometimes dreams don’t work out the way you want them to. Sometimes you fail. Sometimes you stall. Sometimes you get so discouraged and pissed off with your dream that you want to give up. Sometimes it feels like your dream is a million miles away. Sometimes life just gets in the way – you’re so busy working and paying the bills and raising the family that you have no time to dream. All of this is normal. It’s life.
Whatever has happened, whether you’ve fallen or stalled, get up. Allow yourself to dream again. Follow new dreams or re-invigorate old dreams.
5. Persist in ignoring “I can’t”s and “impossible”s
You’d think that ignoring the “I can’t”s and “impossible”s once would be enough right? Sadly, it’s not. Actually if you think about it, it makes more sense that you’ll have to ignore them a few times. But the exciting thing is that it gets so much easier to ignore them the more you do it. I remember in my early days of writing, the “I can’t do this” thought would send me running scared for months away from writing projects. Now when that thought comes up I usually get up and dance around the office, or write out my stuckness, or go listen to the birds in the garden, and the “I can’t do this” thought is gone…often within about 10 minutes.
Everyone who follows a dream has “I can’t”s and “impossible”s to deal with. It’s not just you. Keep ignoring them and carrying on regardless.
6. Persist in doing stuff to take you towards your dreams, even when life gets in the way
We’re a world of instant gratification…and sometimes dreams can take a little bit longer than you expect or desire. Persist. I’m fortunate because I was born with a stubborn streak. Sometimes it’s an issue when I’m butting my head against a brick wall, but it’s also the reason I got to year 13 of my business, wrote 1000+ blog posts, have recorded 50+ facebook lives and have written 4 books (half of which are off the shelves being re-written).
Because I persist. It’s a key trait of big dreamers…they keep going. And going. And going. Even when life gets in the way, as it inevitably will, persist anyway. Persist in coming back to your dreams, allowing yourself to dream, and moving towards them. Even if you haven’t done so for a while. Just pick it back up and crack back on with it.
7. Allow yourself to keep dreaming.
Big Dreams and possibilities thrive on attention. Without attention, their voice becomes a little whisper…but if you allow yourself to dream and keep dreaming, your dream’s whispers will become an impossible to ignore nagging! This is a good thing, because when you allow your Big Dreams to be heard, they will pull you forward into being totally open to possibility…because if you want your big dreams to come true, you have to believe.
It’s not always easy to stay open to possibilities and Big Dreams, even for serial Big Dreamers, but it just takes allowing yourself to dream, practice and persistence.