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Even Scaredy Cats Can Make Big Dreams Happen

Hasselblad 501C, launching big dreams, how to follow your dreams, how to make dreams happen, dreaming big

I am a scaredy cat. A major one. When my husband gets all excited about a new idea I am the first one to roll my eyes and tell him all the reasons his “AMAZING” plan won’t work. Talk about supportive, huh? My friend recently described her “dream poo-pooing” like this, “He walks in with these dreams like fireworks blazing in the sky… and then I pee all over them.” I laughed and then told her she had just described EXACTLY what I do… but in a really strange way. I don’t just pee on my husbands dreams, I often pee on my own dreams too. You wouldn’t think (based on where I live) that I am a wimp about making big dreams happen… but big dreams are high risk! They affect everyone involved, from the parents to the kids to the grand-parents to the family dog. What I often forget is that sometimes that effect can be an AMAZING one, not a bad one.

We are beginning something. AGAIN. Something that seems impossible, but it’s a dream I am promising not to pee on! I am not an expert at making big dreams happen, but I am in the midst of launching one. Here are the steps I have found most helpful as we begin to pull our dream kicking and screaming into reality.

1) Dream first, think about money later.

Once you have kids, and considering the current economy, this feels like COMPLETE FOLLY. So, if you are me… you PANIC about how your family will survive if you launch this dream. I talk to myself and here’s what I say, “You are right, you don’t know how things will work out BUT if you choose this path YOU WILL FIGURE IT OUT.” Lately I have caught myself saying, “We would really like to (insert our new big dream here) BUT we need the money first. NO, BAD DREAMER!!!! Now I am saying, “We ARE GOING TO BE (insert our new big dream here).” When I say I would “like to” do things instead of saying  “I am” doing things, it’s because I want to cover my butt if I fail or don’t get around to it. A note on never getting around to those dreams: it is a type of failure by default. Not doing something that’s been PLANTED in your soul to do is a version of loss and failure in itself. And we are the ones who suffer the loss.

Step challenge: Dream. Dream with your spouse or alone or with a great friend. Answer the question, “Wouldn’t it be great if…”

2) Stop saying the terrible horrible “What if..” and the terrible horrible AWFUL “I can’t.”

What if we die? What if we can’t eat? I can’t risk it. I can’t do it. What if we FAIL? I can’t live without… BELIEVE ME I’ve said ALL OF THESE. Here’s the deal: I know that this is scary. And yes, you might fail. Does that mean if you fail, that your dream was not worth it? ABSOLUTELY NOT. In the midst of a failed coffee shop, I learned valuable lessons that have shaped my future steps in ways that are more tailored to WHO I AM and the skills I possess. My fear of failure, and what people will think if I fail, has the power to immobilize me if I let it. It STOPS ME IN MY TRACKS and keeps me from ever starting. What gets me moving again is my friend Amy’s advice. She’s always telling me to get comfortable with my fear. To LIVE with it. To respect it. At first this sounded like a maniac’s quest, but then I realized that by labeling it “fear” we are already winning. Many people don’t even bother calling it “fear”… they just say they “can’t do it” and cite all the reasons why.

Step challenge: Start a version of the “swear jar” for your dream. Call it the “I can jar” or something like that. Put a set amount of $ in it every time you hear yourself (even if it’s not said out loud) saying “I can’t” or “What if.”

3) Plan. Now that you’ve been dreaming big and not using those terrible horrible words from #2, it’s time to get this dream on paper.

When we came up with our recent big dream (I’m still not telling… yet!) we mapped it out on one big loooooong piece of paper. We drew by hand all the effects we want our dream to have, all the things we need, everything we know about the financials, every step we will need to take to make it happen. It’s all there… and I really believe WE WILL FIGURE IT OUT. We will make it happen. I don’t believe this because I am made of grit (remember what I told you at the top of this post). I believe it because I feel in my GUT that this is a GOOD plan… and WHY NOT? WHY THE HECK NOT? Maybe you are less comfortable drawing your plan out and more comfortable making descriptive lists with step by step goals.

Either way, it’s time to get specific. Break it all down so you can see it clearly. Don’t let not having every little piece of information stop you. Start with what you have. Oh, and NOW it’s time to start thinking about the money. How much will you need? How much do you want to make?

Some sites that keep us inspired, on track and BELIEVING in our dream are:  99%, Ted, MTH. Find support in a community that inspires you, this even applies to the online communities you associate with. Will you hangout on social media to see what OTHERS are doing, or are you ready to start SOMETHING.

Step Challenge: Meet for coffee with a friend (a friend who is trustworthy and open-hearted) and fill them in on your plan. What did they think? How did you feel sharing your dream? It can be liberating to SHARE it and hear the opinions of those you trust.

4) Launch… before everything is perfect.

This new big dream of ours is just a few months old and it’s already very near and dear to our hearts. Dreams are personal. If you are at this stage, you’ve risked a lot to get to this point. It can feel impossibly personal to launch it… so launch it anyways and don’t close your eyes. It will feel like a roller coaster ride, but don’t close your eyes because if you do… you are going to MISS the best part. I still get sweaty armpits when I post my dreams or personal goals on our blog Long Miles Coffee Project. It is a vulnerable moment, sharing your dream and your SELF with the world. Lean INTO that uncomfortable feeling, and “go public” before everything is absolutely perfect. Why ditch perfection? Because, hunny, you WILL NEVER open the doors of this dream if it has to be “perfect” before your BEGIN. Plan well, PREPARE using the tools Pomodoro offers and the  99%, and then just launch… imperfections and all.

Step Challenge: It’s time to start.

5) Be prepared for roadblocks.

Living our lives in Burundi and setting out to do the things we came here for hasn’t been a cake-walk, that’s for sure. The key here is to face opposition with openness. For me, openness means trusting our plans to a higher Source… namely, God. I understand that this is not how everybody makes dreams happen, but remember… these tips are home-spun from my personal experiences. My process for dreaming big looks a little like this… dream big, trust God, get scared, decide it will never happen, wonder “whose idea was this anyway?,” remember that fear is normal, and decide to LAUNCH. It’s not a perfect process, but it’s human and it’s mine.

Step Challenge: Take a moment to appreciate how far you have come. Look at HOW FAR YOU HAVE JOURNEYED! Remembering how far I have come always gives me clarity as I face difficult things.  

If you have launched a dream and there are resources you think people would benefit from as they launch their big dream, please list them in the comments section… and then let’s do this thing, people, fears and all!

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