I recently had the chance to speak to a friend as they shared their life’s dream with me. And as they shared their deepest desires, I could hear the longing in the voice, the sincere wish to accomplish their goals and feel as through they had a life’s purpose. I will say, when they told me it was a life’s dream, they weren’t kidding, it is the kind of dream that could change the world but would also take a lifetime. When I excitedly asked what this friend was they were doing right now to reach the goal, the conversation shifted (rather quickly) from passion and hope to fear and stress. It was not my intention for this to happen (I live to encourage people to chase their dreams) and I fully expected this person to excitedly share with me all they were working on. But instead, fear reared it’s ugly head in the form of several excuses. They weren’t doing anything right now because:

  • The dream was too controversial.
  • My friend was too poor.
  • They couldn’t afford or have the time to go to school.
  • The dream would take too long to accomplish.
  • The technology required isn’t available.
  • My friend didn’t have the skill sets or knowledge the dream required.
  •  They would need too much help with a business plan, getting funding, etc.
  • It would put them in debt if it failed.

The list went on and on in a similar vein.

Once the person had finished explaining all the reasons why not to follow their life’s passion and dream, I (in my always blunt way) told them that all it sounded like to me was that they were scared of failure. Spending your whole life working towards something and failing can make you feel like everything you did was a waste, like everyone sees you as a failure and like nothing is possible. But we let these thoughts stop us before they even happen. We let the fear of failure hold us back before even starting.

And what is failure, really? Let’s continue to look at the example of my friend. If they began working towards saving money so they could go to school, that would be a success. If they began going to school and learning the skills they needed to follow their dream, that would be a success. If they graduated school and began teaching themselves how to write a business plan, that would be a success. If they worked with other who could provide the technology they needed or even helped innovate that technology themselves, that would be a success. So let’s say my friend went right to the end, to only find out that something would hinder them from accomplishing their dream, would that be considered failure? Would they just give up right then and there, even after all the hard work they put in and knowledge they learned? I would think not. In fact, I believe they’d see that obstacle and find a way around it. But if the dream was not meant to be, it doesn’t mean it hasn’t lead my friend to where they are supposed to be.  Let me share with you an example.

I was a wedding planner for several years. I was successful in many ways of running my business but it took a lot of work and constant learning from my side. Not only did I need to learn the ins and outs of wedding planning and running a business but I needed to learn how to market my business as well. I pushed myself to learn all these things and I truly enjoyed the marketing and writing aspects of the job. Then my husband and I decided to move back to our home town. I would have been starting my wedding company from scratch all over again. We reevaluated my position and I decided that I did not want to remain a wedding planner (mostly industry reasons, I loved everything else about the job). So I began looking at jobs in marketing and writing, something I had taught myself to help my company succeed. I landed a job as a writer and soon after became a content marketer. Now I have an amazing job at an incredible company and I love every aspect of what I do. For a long time though, I felt like a failure because I’d put so much time into my wedding business and now it was over. I felt like I must look like such a loser and like I couldn’t hack it.  But the truth is, sometimes things don’t work out like you thought they would but the things you learned along the way still make you a better person and may lead you down another path and to other dreams.

So what I said to my friend, and what I’m writing to you, is this: Don’t let fear of failure stop you from chasing your dreams. Even if you were to fail, it wasn’t a failure if you learned and grew in the process. So if you’ve been waiting to follow your dreams (whether it is a lifelong dream or as simple as becoming healthy) stop waiting. Take the risk and take a leap towards your own happiness. You will always be happier once you stop making excuses and start working towards your deepest desires.

Photo by Karsten Würth