A few months ago, a friend contacted me and said she wanted to leave her current job. She said she couldn’t take it anymore. As I listened to my friend tell me about what she wanted to do with her life, I fell in love with her dream a lot. So much so, that I found myself sitting up straighter, listening attentively, nodding along and smiling accordingly. It happens all the time in these early conversations. I get excited when someone is on the path to where she’s meant to be. There’s nothing more exhilarating than watching possibility unfold.
My friend went on for several minutes, animatedly describing what she wanted to do next and how it would feel to get there. She’d been thinking about this for a while – you could tell. It wasn’t a new thing…it had been well planned. My obvious interest gave her permission to keep sharing and her enthusiasm grew as she added details to the idea, allowing herself to expand her vision. Since we were on the phone, I was scribbling notes as she talked – adding nuances of my own to what she’d shared. I could literally picture her in this dream – one that was very clear as to what she is meant to do.
I took a sip of water and was preparing to tell her all of this, when she abruptly stopped painting this masterpiece of a word-picture, dropped her voice by ten decibels, and muttered,“But never mind. That’s just me talking crazy. I don’t even know how this would work out. Let’s move on.”
Wait, WHAT?!?! It was as though the idea train that had been picking up steam slammed on the brakes as those words came out of her mouth…presumably to avoid running into the imaginary brick wall she had just erected in front of it…and I felt myself lurch forward as I hit the brakes on my own ideas.
Let’s move ON? Really?! After all of THAT?! So I pressed a little.
“What just happened there? Why are we moving on? We were on a roll!”
“Well, you know, it’s just a crazy pipe dream. I have a job, and big girl bills to pay, and I need continuous steady income. Besides, I wouldn’t even know where to start to get something like that off the ground and who knows if it would ever work?”
That’s a brick wall if I’ve ever seen one. Except…
This brick wall isn’t made of bricks. It’s built entirely of unproven fears and rampant self-doubt.
It may look like a wall, but it’s not. It’s just YOU… getting in your own way.
So let’s talk for a minute about the two steps you need to take to get out of your own way.
1. First, you’re already awesome, now change the way you talk about your ideas.
The first step is to change the way you talk about your vision. Immediately! Stop framing it as the impossible, outlandish dream and start framing it as a future reality, one that actually has a chance of coming true. This simple re-frame starts sending different messages to your brain so you allow yourself to file this idea under “possible” instead of “impossible.” This is important, because if you keep it framed as impossible, YOU WILL NEVER START. You have to change your mindset to a positive one. Which brings me to the second step…….
2. STOP talking and START doing.
In this all important second step, you stop talking about your dream and start doing it. Taking one small, not-too-scary task at a time. This is where my oft-quoted phrase “action begets action” comes into play. You might remember learning in high school physics that an object in motion will stay in motion, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to achieve. Most dreams die because we never take that first step. Once you’ve taken it, you’re off the starting blocks. And that one little action leads to the next…and the next. Before you know it, your once-impossible dream is on its way to becoming your reality.
I shared this with my friend and we agreed that while those two steps were simple, they certainly weren’t easy. Changing those well-established patterns takes effort, and sometimes it requires a fresh perspective to get started and strong support to stay the course. We’ve only been working together for a couple of weeks, but she’s off to a good start after years of only talking about her dream. Because that’s exactly what happens when you get out of your own way.