We women have huge hearts.
We’re givers. We can give and give and give. Making other people happy makes us happy.
And many of us have dreams.
Dreams bigger than our ordinary lives.
We want to serve on a higher level.
We want to use our talents to make the world a better place.
We want to do so much more than what we’re doing…
But we don’t know how.
How do you get from your ordinary, everyday life…
To a life where you’re making a major difference and seeing your impact in the world?
Where you’re answering that call you feel inside?
You were made for bigger things.
You were born for a reason.
Yet here you are, going to work each day, coming home and making dinner, then waking up and doing it all over again…
Everyone you know is doing the same thing. They’re getting by. They’re living out their dreams on the weekends, then getting back to reality each Monday. They’re not volunteering in Costa Rica or speaking on a TEDx stage or hunting angel investors for a start-up.
They’re just living. Like we all do.
And maybe you think it’s selfish to dream of more.
After all, what was good enough for your parents should be good enough for you.
No one gets what they want in this life. We all have to settle. Either you can spend your whole life fighting, or you can choose the peace of accepting where you’re at.
I’ve lived in that uncomfortable space since I was a teenager. I dreamed big, but in my world a big dream was becoming a university professor. I grew up in a family of teachers. I was going to take that to the next level by becoming an academic.
Then I met a friend in college who changed my life.
She suggested there were other options for me. Like being a writer and traveling the world.
The thought scared me and thrilled me at the same time. Could I really do that? Could people like me have adventures?
The day I graduated, I set out on a quest. I would work my way around the world and write about it.
My family thought I was crazy. I didn’t know anyone else who’d done it. I didn’t even know if I’d be able to pull it off. After all, I was an introvert and a homebody. Not exactly the kind of person you imagine hauling a backpack around the rainforest.
But my friend had given me a clue—a source for international student work visas.
I knew the first step was to apply, the second step was to save up money, and the third step was to get on a plane and go. I didn’t know what the next step after that was. The whole scenario was a huge blank. I had to trust I’d figure it out—even though I had no idea if I was even capable.
I talk with people all the time who have big dreams like traveling around the world or starting their own business. Their yearning is so powerful and real. Yet so is their resistance.
Something is stopping them from taking that first step.
They say it’s lack of money or time or experience or support. They don’t have the resources they need to begin.
But often the lack of resources is just an excuse. What they really lack is clarity. They can’t see the first step they need to take. Or the second. Or the third.
And so they wait.
The dream becomes lodged in their minds as just that—a dream. Not something that could have ever really happened in the first place. Nice to think about, but not realistic.
Don’t let that happen.
If you’re dreaming of a bigger life than the one you’re leading now, here’s what I learned the hard way. You CAN make those dreams come true. But you have to face the 3 Ps first.
1. Give yourself Permission
When I began dreaming of my future life as a writer, I made the mistake of speaking to family members about it.
Immediately, warnings fell on me like rain, dampening my enthusiasm.
Of course I couldn’t do that. Did I know how dangerous it was? What if this happened? What if that happened? Look at what I would be giving up! How selfish. How irresponsible. Here’s what I should be doing instead.
I’d reached out for advice and support, and instead I got shot down.
I hadn’t yet learned the first lesson of achievers:
Keep your dreams close to your chest until they’re ready to be born.
Don’t share your dreams with the world until you’re on the cusp of making them happen or have already taken that irrevocable first step.
If you need to talk with people, choose your confidants carefully. Don’t ask their advice on whether your dream is realistic. Ask their advice on the specific steps you need to take next.
You don’t need anyone’s permission, approval, or encouragement to move forward.
In fact, other people’s input may derail you. In the attempt to incorporate everyone’s advice, you may find yourself heading in the opposite direction to where you wanted to go.
Give yourself permission, then make it happen. Don’t wait on other people to tell you that you can do it. You don’t need their approval.
2. Stop waiting for a Partner
So many women and men I know have all these dreams, but they’re waiting for someone to share those dreams with them.
They don’t want to sail around the world alone. They don’t want to build their dream house by themselves. They want to do all those things with the person they love.
Except they haven’t met that person yet.
Which means they’re waiting … and waiting … and waiting.
If your dreams matter to you, don’t put conditions on them. Don’t tell yourself, “I have to have a certain amount of money or be at a certain place in my career or be married first.”
Because the person who falls in love with you may not want to share that journey with you.
If your future husband doesn’t want to sail around the world, will you still do it?
If your future husband can’t hold a hammer and loves condo life, will you still do up that old farmhouse?
However, if you get a sailboat now and start doing practice runs, chances are good you’ll bump into a man who loves sailing as much as you.
If you buy that old farmhouse now and start doing it up yourself bit by bit, chances are good you’ll bump into a man who loves DIY as much as you.
Don’t wait for him. Get going.
3. Don’t let yourself get Paralyzed
When your dreams are so big, so powerful, and so compelling they make you hurt inside, they can scare you away.
What if you fail? What if you waste your life on something that never goes anywhere? What if people laugh at you?
Instead of entertaining the scary “what-ifs,” treat your dream like you’d treat dinner.
Before you can get that gourmet meal on the table, you’ve got to select the right recipes. You’ve got to buy groceries. You’ve got to invite the guests.
A memorable dinner starts with the most mundane of tasks. Making a grocery list. Writing down what you need done by when. Tackling it one step at a time.
All dreams work the same way.
Don’t let the hugeness of your dream distract you from the small steps you can take right now.
Everything starts small. Whether it’s a gourmet dinner, a TED talk, or a successful business.
The difference between dreamers and achievers is the willingness to take that first step.
Do you dream of changing the world? Then what can you do for your community today?
Do you dream of starting your own business? Then how can you develop a business plan or market test your idea?
Do you dream of traveling the world? Then what budget-friendly alternatives are out there?
I did end up working my way around the world and writing about it. Without support. Without much money. Without any previous experience at all.
I managed to figure it out. All because I was willing to take that first step.
What are you going to do for your dream today?