Fear is something that is programmed into our genes. It is designed to keep us alive in dangerous situations.
Sometimes we allow fear to overwhelm us like a hedgehog rolling into a ball on the runway with a 261 tonne Boeing 777 heading toward it at 127mph.
Even hedgehogs have dreams, but they allow fear to take over. They get squashed.
Are you allowing fear to squash your dreams? Are you afraid to take the next step?
The Next Step in Your Life
Do you have a dream?
Are you working towards it today?
No? It’s just a dream then. It’s never going to happen.
Now that is scary.
My Wasted Six Years
Shortly after I moved to Ireland I was working for a security company. I was glad of the job because my 12 month teaching contract had not been renewed. There was a lot of driving and it suited me down to the ground. I was on my own, so did not have to make inane conversation with co-workers. I had a van and phone because I was on call 24/7/365. Sometimes I would go 5 days without a call meaning that I could work in the garden or walk on the beach. Sometimes I was working 16 hour days, which was tough.
In my off-hours I would dream about being an entrepreneur. I only had a vague idea about what self-employment involved, but it sounded like a good idea. Then I would get a phone call and the dream was put on hold until another day.
After 18 months the job started to change. I had to fill in for people doing cash deliveries to banks and ATMs. This meant driving around for 12 hours a day in an armoured van with no air conditioning and no opening windows, with people who despised me because they saw my job as easier than theirs.
I began to hate the job. The money was good though, so I did nothing about it. It got so I was working 70 hours a week most weeks including calls in the middle of the night after a day of stressful driving around in silence with my co-workers. I didn’t have much time for dreaming about my own business.
Then the rumours started.
The company was reorganising and jobs were going to go.
I was scared. How would I pay the mortgage, the electricity bill and for food?
The fear of redundancy and loss of a regular wage coming paralysed me. It stopped me thinking about any alternatives such as my dream of being an entrepreneur.
Then the day came.
No van, no phone, no job, no income. I went into Cork to sign up for unemployment benefit.
I was 57 years old and unemployment was at an all-time high because of the financial crash of 2008. I was a foreigner and over-educated for the jobs that were available.
I had not worked on my dream for the past six years because I didn’t think it was important.
I had wasted six years.
Is Fear of the Unknown Stopping You?
The ‘Unknown’ of your dream is scary. Does the ‘Known’ of the daily grind scare you nearly as much?
I know the thought of continuing in my security job scared me. Ten more years? I would have cracked up. I was close to it at the end.
If you research the ‘unknown’ then you remove a lot of the fear and bring your dream one step closer to reality.
Are You Working on Your Dream?
You have a dream. Everyone does.
When did you last dust it off? When did you last do anything towards fulfilling your dream?
What’s stopping you?
Are you scared?
Frightened of failure?
If you avoid working on your dream then failure is guaranteed. Working on your dream is the only way it will ever happen.
If you have not started then start now:
- Open a new document or note
- Save it as “My Dream”
- Start typing
- Save it
If you already have a “My Dream” document, then open it and read it through.
You might not see a way to make money from your dream. It doesn’t matter.
You might not see how you can realise your dream. It doesn’t matter.
What is important is that you make a start.
What Will People Think?
Some people will be jealous of your guts. They have dreams too, but they are too scared to work on them. Say nothing to anybody about your dream. As you research and understand how you are going to approach it you can tell loved ones, but say nothing to anyone else.
Work colleagues and acquaintances will be negative and unhelpful:
- They will make themselves feel better about doing nothing towards fulfilling their own dream by mocking yours
Your confidence is fragile and your research is still at an early stage. You are still firming up your ideas. Do not expect to be confident, the future is glorious in its uncertainty.
- People will ask how you are going to make money from your dream
Nobody can see the entire journey when they start out. You don’t know who you will meet or what vistas will open out in front of you as you get to the top of a hill.
- Some will ask how you are qualified to follow your intended path
You are qualified by the knowledge and skills you have acquired so far in your life. What you don’t know, you can learn. What you can’t learn, you can pay someone else to do.
Making My Dream into Reality
The only way I had to earn money to pay the bills was to dig out my dream of self-employment and start working on it.
I started by listing my work experience:
- I taught chemistry for 29 years
- I worked in a postal sorting office
- I worked for 6 years fixing simple ATM faults
I added my skills:
- Teaching (with a hundred essential sub-skills) – I love teaching
- Driving – I see driving as a necessary task rather than something I love
- Reading – for pleasure and research – I remember every fact I read
- Writing – I have written millions of words over my teaching career
- Paddling – I can paddle in a dragonboat crew, but my timing is always out
- Gardening – I can grow anything
I added my knowledge:
- Chemistry – 29 years up to 1st year degree level means I am good
- Maths – 18 years of giving private tuition means I am better than most
- Driving – An average of 40,000 miles a year for the past 20 years means I can read the road pretty well
- How to move house – Moving 9 times as an adult (8 of them DIY moves) makes me an expert
- Surviving Divorce – Been there, done that
- Emigrating to Ireland – All the silly rules like keeping your ferry ticket
I whittled down my list and writing stood out as my future self-employment. I knew I could write better than most people who were already earning a living online, so I aimed at that market.
I learnt the ropes, built a reputation as a helpful guy and grew my contact list. My contacts started to offer me money to write for them.
I was rolling.
My income fluctuates from €5,000 to €50,000 a year after expenses and I have never missed a mortgage payment. I have zero bank and credit card debt and I am happy. My health has improved as stress has now disappeared from my working day.
Would I go back to a traditional job? Never.
Making Your Dream a Reality
You have written your dream down – That is the first step to overcoming fear.
But there is a long way to go before your dream becomes reality. Set aside 20-30 minutes every single day to work on it. Fear will always be waiting to ambush you if you stop working on your dream.
Read, absorb and apply everything you can find about your chosen area. Research and learning need to be ongoing processes. You don’t need to know everything perfectly, but you do need to have an excellent grasp of a lot.
Planning aids help to turn your dream into reality. I have used 8ft x 4ft whiteboards, pieces of paper arranged on the floor, a spreadsheet and Scapple. Scapple wins every time nowadays.
Scapple is a program that gives you an unlimited number of whiteboards in your computer. It costs about $20 but as a freeform planning tool, it stamps the rest into the mud. I use Scapple for every project, the learning curve is a very shallow one and it is immensely flexible. You can import images, copy URLs, recolour and link away to your heart’s content. It’s not perfect, being able to link boxes with coloured, curved lines would be nice, but it works well as it is.
What If You Fail?
If things go wrong you learn. People only learn by making mistakes. Every mistake makes you stronger as long as you approach it in a positive way.
Doing nothing about your dream because of fear means you are guaranteed to fail.
If you are happy with the thought of your life revolving around your job and the daily commute then I apologise for taking your time.
If you want to reduce the importance of work in your life then you have made the first step.
The free MaXXers.com community is here to help members get over their fears and fulfil their dreams.
Remember the hedgehog – Doing nothing is not an option