How many people do you know who are actually living the lives they always dreamt of?
Chances are that you only know a scant few, and the majority of your friends are doing jobs that pay the bills or living in places that are comfortable and convenient, rather than those that nourish their souls.
How about you?
Are you happy where you are? With what you’re doing?
If the answer is anywhere from “meh” to “hell no,” what’s stopping you from pursuing what you’ve always dreamt of doing?
Below are eight beliefs that generally hold people back from living the lives they’ve always wanted. Do any of them apply to you?
1. I’m Too Old To Start Anew
Tell that to Doreetha Daniels from California, who earned a Social Sciences degree at the age of 99. Julia Child didn’t learn to cook until she was nearly 40 (wrote her first cookbook at the age of 50), and Alan Rickman left graphic design to pursue acting: he got his first real gig when he was 42 (as Hans Gruber in Die Hard) and his career skyrocketed from there.
No, you are not too old to start something new and exciting.
There may be some challenges in pursuing certain paths because of responsibilities or physical issues, but we have the remarkable ability to adapt to just about anything.
If you’re worried about ageism, that a place you might like to work will only be interested in younger staff, talk to the higher-ups there and ask their opinions honestly. There are many benefits to hiring someone who’s started a second career, not least of which include the awareness of the person’s dedication and perseverance. An individual who chose a new direction and worked hard to achieve their goals is a lot more appealing than a kid fresh out of a school program they were just ambivalent about.
2. I Might Fail
“What if I Fall?”
“Oh but my darling, what if you fly?” – Erin Hansen
We all risk failure when we try something new. Hell, we risk failure when we do things that we’ve done a thousand times before, from cracking an egg into a frying pan to easing a car out onto the highway. The egg might break in the pan, or the car might get hit by another vehicle. Does that stop us?
Every new venture is risky, and there’s always the possibility of failure. That said, there is also the possibility of success, right?
The only way to absolutely ensure that you will fail at something is to not attempt it at all… and then you’ll hate yourself for your perceived cowardice.
3. I Don’t Deserve That Life
What in the hell would make you think that? Do you think that you’re somehow unworthy of happiness? That only people who have a particular set of life circumstances are “allowed” to follow their dreams?
Nuhhhh. Hell no.
Even if you think that you’ve done something terrible and, as such, aren’t worthy of fulfillment and happiness, stop that line of thinking right now. You are worthy of your own love and compassion, and you sure as hell deserve whatever happiness you can scrape from life.
Make it happen.
4. I Won’t Make A Lot Of Money Doing This
True, you might not, but you might also be really successful. Or, if this really isn’t a pursuit that will garner you armfuls of riches, you may find yourself much happier and calmer than you are now, and isn’t that a wonderful type of wealth?
Look at your average Buddhist monk or nun: they’re pretty damned content, and they don’t own anything other than a robe or two and a begging bowl.
If money is your main worry, take some time to ask yourself how much you really need. Make a budget, ascertain how much it would take to make your dreams happen, and see if you can arrange a critical path and work-back schedule to achieve your goals.
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5. I’m The Wrong ______ To Live That Dream
What is it that’s holding you back? Do you think that your gender, cultural background, height, weight, age, experience, social status, or able-bodiedness is somehow “wrong” for the dream you wish to pursue?
F*ck that. No, seriously: F*CK THAT.
There are male knitting champions and female mountaineers and transgender models and quadriplegic architects and, and, and…
If you’re determined to pursue a dream, do it. Taking the chance is scary, but living with regret is scarier (and sh*ttier) by far.
6. I Don’t Have The Time Or Money To Change My Life
This one is a bit tricky, but honestly? There are ways around anything. If you have half a dozen kids, but always wanted to pursue a uni degree, look into the Open University or other distance degree programs: you can likely do one course at a time. It’ll take longer, but you’ll get there.
If, instead, you want to start your own business, look into grants and loans and whatnots: you may be eligible for more than you realize.
As for time… well, we make time for what’s important to us, right? It can be done.
7. It’s Unrealistic
According to whom? Who shat on your dreams and told you that you weren’t capable of achieving them? They’re wrong.
Just because something is a little different from the normal slog, doesn’t mean it’s “unrealistic.” If another person, anywhere, at any time, has done anything similar, it’s obviously very real and possible, isn’t it?
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow or love.
Chained by his certitude, he is a slave; he has forfeited his freedom.
Only the person who risks is truly free.– Leo Buscalia
8. I’ll Lose People’s Respect And Support
If you’re a lawyer who dreams of teaching scuba diving in Thailand for the rest of your life, chances are you’ll be terrified of what people will think if you were to follow that dream. After all, you put in years of schooling, worked your backside off to pass the bar exam, got a job at a good firm, and are now making a gajillion monies a year.
Why would you give all of that up to frolic around in a wetsuit thousands of miles from home?
Probably because it would make you happy, and life is too damned short not to do what fuels your soul.
If you’re worried that the people in your life would mock you or refuse to support this endeavor, then quite frankly, you have the wrong type of people around you. Keep people in your life who enhance your life – those who will encourage your dreams and be your cheerleaders when you falter.
If your heart is under the sea, then follow it: better to take that risk and create years’ worth of beautiful memories than hold back because of what other people might think, and regret that decision for the rest of your life.
A lot of people hold back from living the lives they really want because they’re afraid of failure, of mockery, of a lack of security in later life, etc. Well, here’s the thing: we never know how much time we have left. That’s not to be morbid or fixated on death, but rather acknowledging that the only time we can be sure that we have is this precise moment.
Knowing that we have a finite amount of time on this planet can be a huge incentive to pursue lives that fulfill us and fill us with happiness, rather than slogging through a dreary existence only to be rewarded with death at the end of all that mess.
If you dare nothing,
then when the day is over,
nothing is all you will have gained.– Neil Gaiman