Does this sound familiar… You are content enough, every day life runs on its predictable tracks quite comfortably. But there’s a tiny voice inside, some deeper feeling that demands your attention. Perhaps you grave for more opportunities or want to find more meaning in your work and life. Perhaps it’s an idea you have been carrying in your heart for years. Perhaps you have been following the dreams of others and now find yourself disconnected to yourself?
You’d rather not listen to this voice as it sounds like trouble. After all, life isn’t too bad right now so why take any risks.
I talk to hundreds of women with different backgrounds and life circumstances. Some have a clear idea what they want to achieve but for a reason or another have not been ready to go after their dream or don’t know where to start. Some have been so consumed by their family responsibilities or career that there has been very little time to think about their own aspirations. In many cases the common theme that emerges is an idea that even researching a new direction in life would bring along lot of risk.
“I want to start something for myself, but I don’t quite know what to do. It is such a big risk to try something different. After all, my job pays the bills.”
There is a perception that exploring new ideas means abandoning everything you have, right now.
You might be guilty of jumping to conclusions and imagining end outcomes before putting any steps into practise?
When we started DrivenWoman we set out to explore building a community that would help women to realise their dreams. None of us initially stopped everything else we were doing, we kept our jobs and the other businesses we were running but we started taking small steps. I opened this blog within two weeks of coming up with the idea for our Lifeworking network. It didn’t cost me anything, and though it felt scary, I knew I’d learn new thing about myself by doing it. That was my down side!
When a DrivenWoman member, Ncheta, decided to start listening to her inner voice she was a financial manager in a big firm. She still has her job, but by saying ‘yes’ to new ideas and taking small steps to explore them she now runs a side business providing her a second income and a freedom to learn new things.
Many women have turned ‘exploring something new’ into a monster in their heads. Why take the risk when you have no idea where it might take you? So it’s ‘safer’ to keep things exactly as they are. (In fact it’s not safer. Things keep changing regardless, you’re just not in the driver’s seat…)
But what if you begin exploring something that you enjoy doing without taking big leaps?
I feel every day I’m at the start. Every day I have to step outside my comfort zone and start exploring. If I’m to grow and create my bigger life it means I have to approach every day like it was a new beginning. Every day I ask myself: what excites me? What brings me joy? How do I take my game to the next level? And every time I can be either dwarfed by the feeling of ‘risk’ or I can say, “hey, let’s take one small step today!”
Here are 8 ways you can start taking your dreams forward or explore new avenues without taking any risks:
1) Don’t start with the end in mind
The end goal can be paralyzing. It’s silly because nobody ever gets to exactly that place anyway even if they try. Having a big vision is great, but all you need is a big bag of curiosity for life and willingness to follow what excites you. It’s much better to focus on the next step than worry about the end result. If your next step feels good, keep going. If it doesn’t, you can always change direction.
2) Open up to exploration
When did you last spend 2 hours simply searching the web for people, places and businesses that excite you? Companies who do cool things, people you admire, charities you’d like get involved with?
Twitter and Instagram are great tools for finding information and people that might inspire you. If you don’t know exactly what you are looking for it is a surprisingly fun way to bump into new ideas. Follow through with links and check out who else is in the same space, what they write about and who they follow.
Discover interesting websites that are a little bit outside of your daily routine and let a new world open up. Set aside a standard time every week when you do this. For instance, Sunday nights are my time for discovery.
Be thorough! And don’t forget to write what you learn in your notebook.
3) Create a WordPress site and start a blog
If you have a topic in mind by all means open a blog page. You don’t have to advertise it to all your friends if it feels awkward. Just start writing for yourself and see where it takes you. And remember, every successful blog started with no readers (including this one!)
4) Pick your heroes and heroines
Find three people who are doing something inspiring and exciting. Go out of your way to learn everything about them, follow them online, listen to their podcast and read their books. You can learn a lot about yourself by understanding why some people inspire you.
I used to stalk Chris Guillebeau (author of Side Hustle and $100 Dollar Start-up and founder of World Domination Summit) which probably inspired me to create Festival Of Doers. I now have an online crush for Gary Vaynerchuck and Mel Robbins, let’s see where that will take me…
5) Identify two people who might be able to help you
Try to find someone who is in a similar situation as you. Whether you are still looking for your purpose or if you know what you want, find someone who might be interested in similar type of topics or activity. If your dream is to run a marathon, find someone who is also a first time runner. If you want to start a business, try to find people with similar level of expertise and ambition to team up with. Your idea feels less awkward when you share it with someone who might also feel a bit shy to share theirs!
The second person you need is someone who can help you, not just support you. A mentor can bring you new ideas, introduce you to the right people or offer practical advice. If you want to take a little more risk, try contacting someone who already lives the life you want. Remember, the worst that can happen is that they say ‘no’.
6) Do something in the real world
If your dream is to run a marathon, go for a short run. If you are interested in starting a restaurant, go talk to someone who owns one. If you want to eat clean and healthy, go to your cupboard and throw out foods that contain added sugar.
Sounds silly but so many people have ideas in their heads for years and they don’t act on them on the most basic level. Something simple might just get you started.
7) Build a moodboard about the life or business you want
Buy a bunch of magazines from the news agent. You should have at least 10 magazines to do this and be sure to buy a diverse bunch! Then sit down with a cup of tea and leaf through page by page ripping out images, colours and words as you see something that interests you. Don’t analyse too much, just let your subconscious work for you. Make a collage of the images you collected and write a couple of words to describe what you want (or don’t want).
8) Find a supportive tribe to keep you going
At DrivenWoman Lifeworking groups we reduce the perceived ‘risk’ of staring something new as we think of life as a sequence of small little steps. You can always take a little step, test how it feels and then take another step. Forget goals. Forget changing your life. Forget becoming a better person. Forget doing something for yourself. Just start exploring.
I can’t think of myself sitting in the same spot as I’m today in five years time. That would be a disaster! I rather keep moving and see where it takes me. Many people just procrastinate and over evaluate all the options without doing anything. They might still be sitting in that same spot in five years time.
At DrivenWoman we don’t what to be one of them 🙂
DrivenWoman welcomes all women who are ready to commit to small steps to big goals. Join a Lifeworking -group and make those crazy ideas feel less scary and more doable right from the first session! Explore our schedule here.