What do you dream of doing in your life?
Maybe you want to open your own shop, or have your own line of jewelry. Maybe you want to be a doctor, or an investment banker, or start a non-profit. Maybe you want to write a book, or be a successful blogger, or steal the show on Etsy with your hand-lettered masterpieces.
I love our dreams because I believe we can make them happen. I believe we’re capable of so much more than we think. I believe it because I’ve seen it. I get to hold my book in my hands and remember back to when writing a book seemed totally impossible. We can do really big things, I know we can.
But there are two things we have to do if we want to get there — if we want our dreams to do anything but sit in our heads, safe and warm.
We have to do these two simple, and almost impossible things. We have to start, and we have to keep going.
1. We have to start
Starting is always the hardest part. It’s the moment when your feet are dangling out the door of the airplane, when your toes are just slightly hanging over the edge of the cliff. It’s the moment when you’re on the verge of going for something you’ve always wanted, and there’s not a moment in the process when the fear is as strong.
The fear kicks down the door at this point, little armies in your head telling you to quit, turn back, land the plane, give up. It’s the voice in your head that tells you this is stupid, or that you’ll never make it, or brings all the people to mind who are doing the same thing but better.
Sometimes the fear comes in the form of excuses—I was going to start, but then I had to do the laundry/re-organize the pantry/deep clean the garage/paint my fingernails.
Fear does anything it can to keep us from starting, but starting is the key to making our dreams happen.
The myth about starting is that we have to be perfect before we do.
But it’s just not true.
Start anywhere, start small. Sell one necklace and then another. Start a small blog, write one post, write one chapter, or even one word.
But our dreams can’t begin unless we do. It’s time to get started.
2. Keep going
This is where I got tripped up most in the process of writing my book. I started, I loved the starting, but at some point my enthusiasm puttered out. I’d run out of good ideas, gumption, and energy. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I became discouraged.
So I quit.
I put the book away deciding I’d start over when I became a better writer, when I learned more about the book-writing process, or when I was older and a bit wiser.
But like the best ideas, it didn’t give up on me. It kept popping up, reminding me of the work I was meant to do. It kept me up at night, nagging me, begging me to continue.
So I decided to give it one more shot. This time I pushed my way through the hard spots. I worked and tried again, and gave more to those chapters than I knew was in me.
The decision to keep going helped me push past the fears and doubts that had convinced me to quit, and helped me create something I really loved.
So many of us quit before it’s time. We quit when we hit a wall thinking, “That’s it. I’m done. I’ve done all I can do.”
We chalk it up as a failure, as a “try again another time, or better yet, don’t.”
But we all hit that place. Anything worth doing is going to be hard, and discouragement is a right of passage if we’re going to go for our dreams.
But that’s the moment when it’s most important to push through.
Because when you figure out your way around that wall—whether it’s climbing over, or digging under, or blasting right the heck through it—that’s how dreams become reality.
Those are the two keys to success I’m learning to put into practice these days. Start, and keep going. I can’t imagine what the world would look like if we all mustered up the courage to start, and the courage to keep going in the pursuit of our dreams.
P.S. Here's a podcast episode all about pursuing your dreams (and overcoming discouragement): Girls Night #13: Overcoming Discouragement in The Pursuit of Your Dreams.
Also, here's a custom print from the SMW shop that you can hang on your mirror to remind you that it's okay to be a beginner and start right where you are.