“We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming—well, that’s like saying you can never change your fate.” ~Amy Tan
How you wish it were a smooth ride. Right?
The twists and curves you've encountered may have left you full of negative thoughts and doubting your ability to succeed.
In fact, you may be accepting your situation as fate and settling for defeat.
But don’t give up yet!
To keep your dreams alive, you must avoid making certain mistakes. You must realize that you’re the pilot, and you can take charge of your dreams and fly to places you’ve never been.
After five years of spinning my wheels teaching in Kenya and dealing with mandated curriculums that didn’t make sense, I decided to do something bold.
I packed my suitcase and moved to Botswana in pursuit of my dream—starting my own business. A friend living there had told me Botswana was the best place to live in Africa because the people were friendly, the economy was rich, and it was less populated.
Was I scared? Sure.
Did I care? Nope.
I envisioned a successful life, being my own boss, and living the dream.
Who wouldn’t want that?
Sometimes moving is the best therapy for a new beginning.
I lived with a host family for three months while applying for a business permit.
A little after three months, my time was up. I had to cut the cord with the host family and move out. The business permit processing took a little longer than anticipated.
With no money coming in life got hard. I hit rock bottom. I was broke and broken.
I ate caterpillars to survive.
I had no money, and my savings had run out.
I had no place to live.
I had no family around.
But I refused to give up. I refused to lose hope. I refused to let the feeling of despair ruin me. I refused to let the pain inside win the battle. A voice inside kept on saying I would make it.
One day, I was taking a stroll when I saw a swimming pool that was not being used; a private members club owned it.
So I asked the manager if I could use the pool. (Remember, I didn’t have any money). I figured if I could learn to swim, I could turn around and offer swimming lessons for a living.
He agreed that I could use the pool if I paid the club a percentage of my earnings.
I lived on the good will of friends who loaned me money to pay for the club membership. A friend offered me free swimming lessons, which took a little over four months. I then became a swimming teacher and my clients were club members, adults, and kids.
Nothing lasts forever, even the harsh life I'd known all so well. Finally, I was living the dream I had left teaching to pursue—coaching on my own terms.
Through my experience, I've learned some huge mistakes to avoid when chasing your dream.
1. Letting discouragement overwhelm you.
Take the risk. Are you going to be scared? Oh, yes, you’ll be petrified. Remember, it’s not going to be a straight path. Take mini steps and be consistent with your work.
Even if you don't reach the goal you’ve set, you’ll learn, grow, and perhaps even find new opportunities through the process of stretching yourself.
Believe in yourself and the possibility of your dreams coming true, without letting discouragement rob you of the faith you have in yourself.
For me, instead of letting the work permit delay and lack of money discourage me, I opted to change the course of my dream.
2. Denying your current situation.
If your current situation is not ideal, don't live in denial. If you do, you won’t be able to deal with the obstacles you’re currently facing. Doing nothing won't change your situation or bring you any closer to your dreams. Before long, you will hit the wall and crash, and possibly fall into a depression.
Instead, accept the situation you’re in and then work toward changing it. You have more power than you realize. Trust and believe in yourself. However small the change happens, be grateful.
3. Dwelling on the past.
Holding on to a painful past will fill you with doubts when you’re trying to pursue your dreams. You won’t be able to handle obstacles that arise and you’ll spend your energy on worries and regrets.
You’ll be afraid to make decisions because of past experiences. You’ll hold yourself back from claiming opportunities when they arise.
So, let the past be gone but cling to the good memories, and when things are rocky look at the past and smile. Let the bad be a learning experience, let learning produce growth, and let growth bring you closer to your goal.
It can be deadly.
I procrastinated the first three months I moved to Botswana. I wasted time and money on vacation, clothes, etc.
Time wasted cannot be recovered. It’s just like a river; once you touch the water flowing past you, it will never flow back toward you again. Do what you’re supposed to do, when it’s supposed to be done.
5. Neglecting your body.
Don’t ever forget to take care of your body. Treat it like a temple. If you don’t, you will get sick, mentally and physically, and this will prevent you from working toward your goal.
However hard you’re working take time off to exercise, and don’t forget to eat healthy foods. (Don’t starve yourself. Eat what’s edible; it won’t kill you.)
Don’t forget to pray. It’ll nourish your soul and give you inner peace.
When I hit rock bottom I walked two miles or more every day, and by the time I got back home I was refreshed.
6. Waiting for help to chase you.
Knock on doors.
Will doors be shut on you? Sure, more than you can count.
Sometimes we ask for help anticipating getting our way. Sorry, it doesn't work that way.
I didn’t wait for friends to find me; I went out and became a friend. From that friendship, I was able to join the club, find a place to live, and teach swimming lessons.
If doors close, go in through the window.
If that means changing the course of your plan, please do so; change will not mean losing your dream.
7. Taking it personally when people judge you.
They will judge you by how you look, what you eat, and how you live. When people judge, it has more to do with their own fears and insecurities than you
Turn a deaf ear to these judgments. Feel proud of the journey you’re taking.
8. Dwelling on the negative.
It’s impossible to only focus on the positive, but dwelling on the negative all the time is like a bomb waiting to explode. Your thoughts will hold you hostage from making progress and your mind will be filled with doubt.
Allow yourself to feel the negative. Cry if you have to, but don’t let it take over you.
Releasing your negative feelings will leave you at peace and you will be able to focus on the positive even in tough times.
A positive attitude will help you decide the best strategy for achieving your goals.
9. Comparing yourself to others.
Comparison leads to jealousy and envy. It can kill friendships if not tamed.
Celebrate the success of others instead of being jealous. Let them know you admire them.
Turn the focus on what you have instead of what you don't have and be grateful for it.
10. Trying to get approval for your dream.
Your dream is a vehicle, and you’re the driver. Don’t let the passengers map the road for you.
Stop trying to win over the people who don’t believe in you and criticize you.
Only seek help from those who support your mission and encourage you, because they will cheer you on along the way.
Hold fast to your dream.
Gear up to fight the storms.
Keep that banner shining.
Never give up, and never give in.
Stand up and face the fear, baby!
Your dream is counting on you.
Do you believe you can pursue it?
Boy reaching for stars image via Shutterstock