You don’t know what to do.
Oh, you’ve got plenty of ideas about what you could do. About what’s possible. About your dreams.
Or maybe you’re really, really busy – pursuing a hundred leads at once and reeling from all the potential paths available to you.
But somehow nothing’s really happening. Nothing’s clicking.
And you’re either starting to panic, or, conversely, starting to think that being where you are isn’t really so bad. You can hang in there until things start to change. Whenever that might be. Someday.
Who finds this familiar? And just a teensy bit scary?
So, let’s talk about it. Let’s figure out why you consistently step away from making your ideas into something real, shall we?Falling in love with potential
It’s easy to be drunk with love about what’s possible. “I take this job, and I can make a million dollars and become CEO one day.” Or, “If I become a joint venture partner with this famous person, my life will be easy and I’ll become famous, too.” And, “It’s not really that bad – I bet I can make it better.” And we are so in love with this vision that we fail to see that the CEO is only 32 years old and not going anywhere any time soon, or that the famous person has staff that deal with “joint venture partners” (and there are hundreds of joint venture partners), or that the thing is not bad – it’s horrific – and is so toxic that hazmat is required.
The best dating advice I ever received was, “Never fall in love with potential”. Had I ever followed it, I would have been saved plenty of heartache. But, after being bashed about the head and shoulders several times, I finally learned the lesson.
Today, when offered a possibility, I put potential aside and look at what’s at hand with a clear eye. Does it fit with my strengths? My values? My goals? Notice I’m not asking, “Could it possibly, with a lot of work, pixie dust and spit, maybe fit?” It either fits or it doesn’t. And if it fits, that’s when I look at potential. Does this opportunity allow for growth? Is it fun? Is it worth my time?Loving the dream too much
Isn’t it nice to have a dream? Feels so dreamy, and love-ly. We can visit our dreamy dream whenever we want, like some personalized amusement park, and lose ourselves in all the possibility. And we love the idea of the dream, and fondle the dream, and protect it. But we never make one step toward realizing the dream in our lives. The singer never takes voice lessons, the writer never types, the entrepreneur never starts a business.
Because the dream is perfect, and real life is seldom so.
If you’re a dream-fondler but rather restless, here’s an exercise: write down a full description of your dream. All of it. Even the minutiae. Then go back through and pick two things – just two teensy things – you can easily do to move ever-so-slightly toward making the dream real. See how that feels, try a couple more, and if you hit resistance, it may be because:Execution means change
Let’s say your dream is to be a writer, and the teensy thing you choose is to start writing. And maybe you even begin to call yourself a writer. That might feel like a change. A re-definition. A big switch. People might laugh. You might not fit in with your friends – they don’t even read books – or your family – who values brawn over brain.
Or maybe you grew up in a family that prides itself on academic and intellectual pursuits. You go to a competitive high school, and all your friends are shooting for the Ivy League. You go to a top school, and a prestigious graduate program. All is as it should be. But you’re not happy. All you ever do is dream of starting your own landscaping business.
But if you become a landscaper, what will people think? What will you have in common with your Ivy League friends? With your siblings? With your parents?
The fear of loss keeps you in a job you don’t like, being measured by a yardstick that’s not even relevant to your dream. If you have a strong pull toward belonging and connection, you might hold on to the group’s yardstick because making your own is so scary. And the group might say it’s wrong.
Understandable. Hard to shake.
But so worth it when you do. Remember: the people who love you will love you whether you’re a physicist or a landscaper. Whether you’re a Regional Sales Manager or a writer. More importantly, you will like you when you’re living your dream.
The failure to execute is the Big Kahuna of stuck. Making your dreams come alive, though, is the Big Enchilada of happiness. Go ahead. Start now.