I’ve noticed something, in myself, in my students, in adults trying to make a change in their lives…there’s this one critical moment.
The one moment that determines if you are going to just talk about doing the thing you want to do OR you are actually going to do it.
It’s the moment you take the very first step.
Even tiny but possibly terrifying first step, toward your goal.
Because before you take that step, well..it’s just an idea in your head, it’s your dream and it feels like a possibility…someday. It COULD happen..someday. It FEELS like something. In reality, it’s just something in your head, that’s all.
It’s that first tangible action step toward that thing that makes it a real thing, a real possibility…but not before.
I was thinking about this because I had a student come to me recently, wanting to be a journalist. She came to me because she is afraid after she graduates college, she won’t be able to find a job. That can be a legitimate fear, so I started asking her lots of questions.
“Is there anything else you’d rather do?”
“Do you like to write?”
“I love to write.”
“Well, I see you haven’t done an internship yet or gotten involved in campus media. How about we start with that and see how you like it?”
Fear. Paralyzingly fear. She didn’t have to say it. I just recognized it.
Honestly, I get it, because I’ve felt it.
We’ve all felt it.
We are afraid to take a step that might make us realize we don’t want to go in the direction of our “dream” at all, or it doesn’t really play to our strengths, or we really aren’t willing to put in the work and time and risk required to make that thing we want a reality. We just kind of like having the dream because someday, maybe, it could, it might under the right circumstances magically happen. The dream or idea kind of feels like part of us and if we let it go, then what?
The truth is, the magic happens when you actually take that very first action step beyond your fear to make something happen.
For my student, that will be connecting with an alumnus at a small paper she wants to work at and asking for an opportunity…one of many real tangible steps I’ve assigned her.
For you it might be going back to school, hiring a coach, updating your resume, having lunch with someone who might be able to help you, writing the proposal, the first chapter…whatever it is. Whatever it is, even though it might be a tiny step, it might FEEL LIKE a swan dive over a cliff.
That’s how you know, you want it. You are willing to start taking risks and action steps toward the thing that’s been in your head. And that step will lead to other steps. And some of those steps will be really difficult and challenging. And yes, you will risk finding out whether this dream, this goal can be real or not. You are willing to risk finding out.
I kind of compare it to getting on the scale.
I can imagine I’m a certain goal weight, but when I get on the scale I’ll be faced with reality and then I know that will force me to deal with it and take some action.
Right now, I’m having fun eating ice cream so I don’t necessarily want to face that reality. I just like believing I’m at that goal weight. I know I’m doing that. I digress… But you know what I’m saying?
No step is more critical than the very first action step when you face the biggest fear and decide to find out; find out if you have the guts, the stamina, the desire, whatever it is to turn this thing that lives in your head, into a real thing; a reality.
We all know how to do this, otherwise, we’d accomplish nothing. The bigger the dream or idea, of course, the more attached we are to it, the harder it is to go find out if we can make it a reality.
But, in that first step, is so much possibility.
There is potential, adventure, growth…succeed or fail, we become “more”, we live more, we dare more just by going there. And sometimes letting go of a dream that makes no sense for us, might actually make room for a better new idea to turn into reality.
That might be what happens with my student or she’ll find out she’s on exactly the right path. We don’t know yet. We can’t know yet until she tries and takes the first step.
So, what first step have you been avoiding, fearing, keeping you from turning a dream, a big idea into a reality? What first step will you dare to take? You can choose to move courageously toward it someday, or you can choose to make it today.