Get Started on Your Dream: Clear the 5 Most Daunting Hurdles

Man Jumping Over a Hurdle

“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” ~Buddha

A decade or so ago, when I was twenty, I was supposed to settle into an “arranged marriage,” a common concept in India. I would never have known what it means to be financially independent, to go after my passions, and to be true to myself.

Until then, I had only wished to have a career—to go to a big city, live independently, and explore my identity. But those were merely daydreams. I had accepted that in my community, girls are married off after graduation, and whatever they want to make of their lives, they do it after marriage.

Though I had accepted that reality, I wasn’t at peace with it. I still dreamed of pursuing higher studies in a field that was my passion and forte: Mass Communication. The institute I aspired to attend would take no more than forty students per subject and no less than the crème de la crème of the country.

It was only prudent that I brush the dream under the carpet, because, even if I tried, it seemed unlikely. Also, I didn’t have any time to prepare for an exam like this, which was a month away, and I couldn’t take the exam the following year. My family wouldn’t wait “that long” to see me married.

I realized this might have been my only chance to shape my life as I visualized it. I had a month to prepare for this high-profile exam. Those thirty days could determine the next thirty years of my life.

I wondered, “What would happen if I put every single grain of my brain, my heart, my soul, my blood, and my bones into this one dream?” And then I found out!

My fears gave way to determination, a sense of purpose replaced my complacency, and my day dreams faded as I adopted a “now or never” sense of urgency.

Today, I am so proud of myself that I dared to make that attempt, against all odds. I did not resign to my fate, and as a result, I made it into the top forty league of students at my dream school, where I pursued my passion. Those thirty days changed my life forever.

Since then, I’ve worked for top notch corporations, I’ve started my own enterprise, and I’ve left it all behind to home-school my daughter. Every time I decided to make a fresh start, I initially felt terrified, but then conquered my fears to be true to myself.

Being Aware

It’s crucial to be aware of exactly what you want and don’t want. By this, I mean being so connected with your mind, heart, and soul that you need no external stimuli to understand your heart’s calling. It means to know what you ache for and choose not to do the things that drain your spirit.

Awareness does not come easy. But being aware and then making a start is equally difficult. Making a start and going all the way—that’s mammoth!

I’ve made numerous starts in my time, and I have confronted and overcome some major hurdles. If you can identify your hurdles early on, it will be much easier to get started.

Here are some of the hurdles you may come up against:

1. Lack of drive

The drive to pursue your heart’s longing will emerge only when you recognize and accept that you’re not passionate about what you’re currently doing.

When you stop being complacent and acknowledge that your life that doesn't excite you, you will feel an overwhelming need to take that first step toward your dreams.

Do you enjoy how you spend your time and feel like you're making the impact you want to make?

2. Risk of failure

Enormous, long-term goals with micro-level planning may sound like they will cover the risk for you. But, in my experience, they do just the opposite. They can create a terror in your heart even before you make the start. They may even be so overwhelming that they prevent you from beginning.

It’s not prudent to get caught up in long-term plans at any stage of your project or entrepreneurial journey. A better approach is to focus on the small steps that connect you to your passion and conviction.

The Agile methodology suggests designing short-term goals to arrive at the long-term mission. It recommends working toward a two-week or a three-week goal and assessing what you’ve achieved frequently.

This helps you respond to change quickly and efficiently and allows you to create value at greater speed and frequent intervals. When you're creating value every week, every day, no matter how small it is— rather than achieving something tangible an year down the line—you will be firing motivation on all cylinders.

You won’t have to worry about failing at something huge because you will experience small successes at every step of the way.

3. Lack of clarity

Often we have clear dreams but hazy thinking on how to convert those dreams into reality. We get so busy with our day-to-day living that we don’t make the time to think about what steps we need to take.

Until you create the time to think about what you want and need to do, you will keep spinning in circles within your head, waiting for the day when you suddenly feel enlightened or prepared.

Buddha said, “We become what we think.”

Only when we are thinking consciously will our thoughts carry the power to execute.

4. The need to do things perfectly

The perfect time, the perfect method, the perfect idea—these are all illusions that keep us distancing from our dreams. They may be excuses for procrastinating things years away: “When the kids grow up…” “When I get my next promotion…” “When I have more money…”

Or they may be excuses to put things off by a few weeks or months: “When my child's summer vacation is over…” “When I finish this project…”

Oftentimes, these are lies we tell ourselves to avoid taking the plunge. There is no such thing as a perfect idea or a perfect method. Many ideas can be effective if we back them with a sense of purpose and then learn and adjust as we go.

5. Fears about letting go

Maybe you’ve devoted years to training in your field and building a career only to realize you’re not passionate about your work. This can make it challenging to let go and walk away. After all, you’ve already spent a good part of your life pursuing your profession, increasing your earning potential, and making a name for yourself.

You might feel highly resistant to abandoning that profession and pursuing something else. You may also think it’s tantamount to accepting and declaring that your work and life this far were a waste.

The only thing that’s wasteful is denying what you really want.

Living your life on your terms starts with living consciously and courageously and being true to yourself. It may mean letting go of the things you have amassed and unlearning all that you have learned until now; it may mean fighting a lone battle; it may even mean holding on to your belief in the face of reproach, disapproval, and discouragement. But it’s worth doing.

So, go ahead and crush the fears, demolish the doubts, overpower the naysayers, and take that one leap of faith to be who you want to be—no matter what your age, gender, culture, or boundaries.

Man jumping over a hurdle image via Shutterstock

About Rashmie Jaaju

A writer & photographer from New Delhi, India, Rashmie blogs about her creative parenting journey at Mommy Labs. She also writes about natural health, travel & living a life of purpose at Gorgeous Karma. She plans to merge these two sites in the near future. Connect with Rashmie on Twitter and Facebook.

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  • adapting along the way – when our plans that seemed so clear to us at one point blurs up, we need to push on, and adapt it if need be… every turn will present new opportunities, we just need to be prepared and have an open mind to deal with these “obstacles” and before we know it, our dream is right in our grasp!

  • There are so many articles and wonderful bits of information available online and via Facebook … however, this is BY FAR one of the best pieces I’ve read in a long time.  Such simple, on-point suggestions from someone who has clearly experienced both sides of the “dream coin” – going after the more familiar goals (corporate success) and the less mainstream ones (choosing to be a full-time parent).  So very helpful … what a wonderful post – thank you!!  Namaste, my friend.

  • Anonymous

    This article was seemingly written just for me. So appropriate right now. Thank you.

  • @barb:twitter Thank you for reading and am so glad you resonated with my thoughts… 🙂

  • This is worth 10 minutes of your time …

  • This is worth 10 minutes of your time …

  • @abf05fcb7e7d9073a1ae9c7554036575:disqus You’ve made my day, my dear friend. 🙂 Thank you for reading and for sharing such kind words. You’ve analysed it well – I am in-fact one of those who have experienced contrasting aspirations – to realize self-potential by wanting to be financially independent, pursuing a successful career etc and then to realize the soul’s potential by being an unconditional parent. 🙂 But then, if we really see – both are actually the same side of the coin. Because, in both I did what my heart desired and thus there was no scope for regrets… 🙂
    So glad to connect with you, @aqua:twitter And, namaste to you too. Aapse milke bohot khushi hui (so happy to ‘meet’ you)!

  • @noch – What you said about adapting and having an open mind is so true. 

  • meglinds

    I am finally getting the courage to fully pursue my goal. This could not have come at a better time. Thank you for your inspiring story and words.

  • Usha

    Rashmie this is one beautiful post written by you that i would like reading again whenever i doubt myself again. I’m glad you found your life goal. I’m blessed by God that i’m doing what i really would like to pursue in my life professionally. You ‘ve just opened my eye to some other things i would like to experience other than my own profession. There can’t be just one dream for this life. All the people here discover what attracts you and enjoy this life. If you love writing then write, if you love dancing then dance. No one can be the hurdle of your way except you yourself. Dare to live ! Dare to love yourself enough to stand up for yourself.

  • Loran Hills

    I must say what’s already been said, a wonderful and timely post for me too!

  • Tombo0412

    I can’t believe how this wonderful post came at just the right time for me…I’m 51 and teetering on the brink of a massive about-face in my life. This serendipity might just have given me the push I need. Thank you.

  • Lizziemac

    What a wonderful article… I gave up my profession last year at the age of 42 having spent 25 years in the study and practice of that job. But I knew all along that it was not my heart’s desire and in fact it was making me miserable. So despite the disapproval of family members and some friends I took the plunge… and haven’t looked back. It’s never too late to listen to what’s inside you.

  • I love your story. Most people would have obviously not taken a chance, but it just goes to show the happiness that comes with taking that risk and facing that fear! And in doing so you became an inspiration! What more can you ask for? 🙂

  • Thanks Kari, for stopping by to share your encouraging comment.Yes, you’re right – it takes guts to face your fear but when you’ve done that, the lightness that you feel within you is beyond words. One feels so free and liberated of all that was previously stifling you and stopping you from growing and releasing yourself from the cage of fear and anxiety. 
    I am so glad you like the article. 🙂

  • @cb1b1c5a1da34cb42de8957c1e4bba90:disqus 25 years into a study and practice and then  letting go of all that to kindle a new life of your heart’s calling is exemplary! Hats off to you! Your words are steeped in truth – “It’s never too late to listen to what’s inside you”. Glad to ‘meet’ you 🙂

  • @google-fecef66b89ac7e24ab3773e2144823c7:disqus Thank you for reading and connecting. So wonderful to know this article came at the right time for you. 🙂

  • @380e176f81b0f36b4cb33dc5aa7a5e19:disqus Thank you, my friend for such a thoughtful and kind comment. I have not known you before and yet with this one connection, I feel like we know each other. :)Totally agree with you that – there is not just one dream or passion that beckons you during a lifetime. And, if we want, we can pursue them all without letting one come in the way of other. I myself have so many passions that at times I feel 24 hours in a day is not enough. And then, I figure out that if that passion comes from ‘within’, we can make it possible with all the constraints that we live in. In fact, those very constraints make going after those passions all the more exciting and rewarding. If we could have it all with ease and on a platter, the fun and satisfaction would be lost.Thank you, again, Usha for reaching out heart to heart. 🙂 

  • @8c365bd2716e496bfc0aed714f334fb6:disqus So happy for you that you are garnering the courage to do what you really want to do. Never lose your fire, passion and the yearning, my friend. It is this only that serves us well when nothing else is easy. 
    Feels nice to know this article inspired you and was very timely. 🙂

  • Thanks Tony 🙂

  • @a7c1c396d9d6f0e5d54fd9b22b40e885:disqus It’s heartening to know you have come face-to-face with this evolutionary stage of your life. How many people ever come to realize it and have the guts to do something about it? 51 is nothing. From now on, it could be the best time of your life that you can live to your heart’s content. Just go for it, my friend and hence spread your positive energy to the Universe. 
    As Paulo Cohelo says – when you desire to do something from the core of your heart and with all your might, the entire universe conspires to make it possible for you. 🙂

  • Manish Jaju

    This is such a simple yet powerful article; it delivers the message straight to the heart! Your own life’s story is inspirational, and I’ve seen it from close quarters sis, so I know what it means to you (and us), and what has gone into making it what it is today – tonnes of courage, passion and determination! On another note, your pointers on the hurdles are so appropriate. I have identified some of them myself and am trying to overcome them in pursuit of my own dreams. This article is very timely indeed, and IMHO one of your best! Keep writing and my best wishes to you in your life’s journey! 

  • Kei

    The language used is clear and the content is very clear and useful for me.I need this kind of encouragement

  • Manish Jaju

    .. and did i tell you, the sunset pic is totally awesome!

  • ALK

    Very inspiring! 

  • @alk:twitter Thank You for reading and connecting 🙂

  • @5978d6620474771281e784e710778c92:disqus Mannu, thanks dear 🙂 You know, that sunset (in Kruger National Park in South Africa) was totally magical. It had the power of connecting you with the divine. I could go on looking at it for ever…

  • @7e83ded3fdeaf91395f736c6952f7cc2:disqus So glad you liked the article and found it encouraging. 🙂

  • @5978d6620474771281e784e710778c92:disqus Mannu, your words mean so much to me. 🙂 That journey – yeah – it was the most challenging phase and yet so inspiring. That struggle that we went through – as persons and as a family, has made us – you and me – what we are today – as human beings and as individuals. Hasn’t it?I am so glad you think the article resonated with your heart. I know you want to pursue your passions right now and may be you’re facing one of these hurdles that I wish you overcome soon. These hurdles that I talked about, I just wrote from my own experience as well as from observing that these are more or less true with most of us. All the best to you too so you can breathe life into your dreams real soon. 🙂

  • param

    So wise and well said Rashmie:) The clarity and simplicity with which you have written is so amazing. Only someone who has passed these hurdles and come out a winner could have shared something like this. Happy to  have such a wonderful and spiritually enlightened friend who dares to dream and lives life on her own terms. May your tribe increase…Lots of love. Param

  • Tim Webster

    It’s interesting that you mentioned putting 100% into a goal, “What would happen if I put every single grain of my brain, my heart, my soul, my blood, and my bones into this one dream?”

    What if you failed? What if you put in 100% – every ounce of your being – and failed? What type of psychological effects would that have on a person? 

    I’m not saying that one should not go at a goal with serious ambition – but to say that we’re putting 100% of ourselves into a goal is probably a stretch. Our brains, as a survival mechanism, would not likely allow us to completely invest in one goal because if we did, and we failed, the results would likely completely devastate us. 

    Maybe I’m being nit-picky here, but to completely invest into a goal is dangerous. Reserve 5% or 10% so that you’re allowed to rebuild yourself after failure (because at some point, we’re all going to fail at something, it’s normal) 

    I do agree with your 5 hurdles, though. Especially #4 – The need for perfection is an interesting concept. Many people wait for ‘all the lights to be green’ before starting to drive down the road – that’s never going to happen. 

    Thanks for sharing! =)

  • @facebook-507401999:disqus Your viewpoint is interesting. You say, “what if you failed”. I think after putting in your 100% – that is – your best effort in a given scenario, even if you failed, you will not get devastated. On the contrary, you will live without regrets and you will be proud of your courage.

    I think that the regret/guilt of not doing your best can affect your peace of mind for ever – more than the sorrow of failure itself. It’s not a pleasant feeling to realize that you did not do enough for something that you really wanted.Besides, I believe that if you did not put your 100% – that is – your best effort – the chances are anyways high that you will fail.While, I understand what you mean, my approach is to apply your heart and soul to the task without getting attached to the result per se. This attitude will not devastate you when the result is not favourable. Also, your attitude toward your effort will depend on how passionate you are about the thing you are working toward. Putting in less than 100 per cent also hints that you never wanted it so passionately in the first place. Thank You for sharing your perspective, Tim. It’s always wonderful when readers bring their own unique viewpoint to discuss and reflect upon. 🙂

  • My dear Param,
    I am touched by your supportive words here. So happy to know you liked the article. Also, feels nice that you now know an important part of my life story. 🙂
    Love and hugs to you too, dear friend.

  • Hi Rashmie!
    This is wonderful! I particularly like how you “put every single grain of my brain, my heart, my soul, my blood, and my bones into this one dream” and then enjoyed success! And I like how you went your own way! (Read my post on Monday!)
    #4 stalled me for a long time. But I got over it! LOL
    Sooner or later you need to just take the leap, right!? Good for you! Thanks for this beautiful sharing.

  • christina fajardo

    I grew up in a Hispanic family and my parents saw no need for a college education. So even though there was no arranged marriage, there was an arranged life that did not include a college education. I had to go against the grain and get my education at the age of 32 because I had a dream and I realized it! 

  • christina fajardo

    I grew up in a Hispanic family and my parents saw no need for a college
    education. So even though there was no arranged marriage, there was an
    arranged life that did not include a college education. I had to go
    against the grain and get my education at the age of 32 because I had a
    dream and I realized it!  

  •  Dear Lori, 

    I had read about your journey as a writer and how you finally realized what your heart has always wanted – at the tender age of 9 – to be a published writer. 

    Sometimes it is the obsession to do it the perfect way that comes in your way and often times, the “lizard-brain” (as Seth Godin calls it!), that tells you you are not perfect enough to do it.

    Whatever it is – yes, ultimately we have to take the leap of faith to be able to live peacefully. The voice from within constantly hankering and reminding us becomes overbearing after a time. 

    Thank you for reading, Lori and for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

  • @google-d8e022ab451fe60d8ebcf27055b29787:disqus Hats off to you for your courage and determination. Not many would have the guts, the inspiration or even the willingness to do what you did.
    Thank you for reading and for sharing your story here. 🙂

  • Ankit

    Wonderful article Rashmie and some wonderful comments too !! Interesting insights which I am also learning along the way to start my entrepreneurial journey. I realise that often we ask the wrong question such as should I start now or 3 years down the line, should I get an MBA or more work ex. I think what people really want to ask is what if I fail in my venture and I have no MBA or work ex, am I down in the dumps and this is where your article provides the perfect wisdom. If you follow your dreams passionately, risk or fear of failure becomes immaterial. 

  • Sadhana Bhagwat

    very well written Rashmie! agree with all the points raised! More impressed by your ability to express!!!! look forward to more such articles!

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  • Frigging awesome post! 

  • Alok

    Thanks. You opened my eyes.

  • Daralynn

    I’m very late here, but I want to join the discussion. This was a very powerful message! I looked for several articles on Google relating to this topic and yours was the best in my opinion. Thanks for posting this message. Although, I feel indignation I’m going to work on myself.

  • chahat

    Hi Rashmie,your post definitely tells us what we often cant recognize but, you know what, i recognized these things way before i even read your post. My problem lies in the lack of support from my parents to pursue what i want. I’m an Indian and being an Indian, i believe your familiar with oh-so-cliche-Indian-problem, my problem is so cliche that sometimes even i scrunch up my nose or cringe. i feel so helpless sometimes that i just feel like giving in and doing what they tell me but i know that is not what i want. How?? Just how do i make them understand?!?! :’/ I’m so sick of being that unruly kid. I’m at my wit’s end with them and this whole situation.

  • CG

    None of these posts ever seem to apply to people with kids. It’s like we can have no dream. Life is endless servitude forever now.

  • Hi Rashmi,
    Very nice post!

    Well written .. and the illustrations and the humour add a lot of weight in your sayings…

    I’ve been a dreamer .. for over a decade now.. have tried to break free a few times, but have been actually proven wrong on multiple occasions…

    the usual things.. lack of experience, lack of knowledge, inadequate funds ( or insecurity about having inadequate funds) to live a traveller’s life… see the world.. do lots of adventures… be a writer/poet/trainer etc.

    (Unfortunately I’ve been given ‘sane’ advice by my own family members.. So I’m working in a large Multinational corporate, doing work that’s boring and demotivating… but the job’s paying well to live a comfortable life… so it gives more strength to the ‘nay sayers’…)

    I have my own blog ( … you may like to read a post wherein some of what I think and desire, comes out.

    Hope to find some mentor and friend some day , who thinks and believes that amazing things can and do happen in life… who may help me overcome my fears…to break free..

  • sarthaki

    Hi…It might turn out to be the worst post ever. ..but your columns and inspirational facts have compelled me to ask you…I passed out in 2013 from a good college in du..wid 80 percentile in maths honors…
    Since 2nd year…I have been thinking for a good career that would pay me a really awesome salary…All I was confused was in masters In maths or mba…my only target till then was to have career that will give me an awesome package…hence I tried fingers in every pie..I appeared for msc maths entrance test…could not succeed…then for cat..unwell there as well. ..2 more exams on mba entrances..failed attempts overall last year…This year again I appeared for msc maths entrance exam. ..which went horrible…In between all these I would really like to clear about myself is I put in all I can in each test I appeared for… (because my failures will obviously lead to another judgement)…now I have joined a coaching to prepare for cat…now stuck in all this…I am still not able to answer myself if I really want to pursue a career in management or in maths? I am not one of these who are so damn clear of their targets…dance is one thing that always occupies my mind whenever I think of my future…can you help me a bit even in this introspection or its still the same that you will that on me to decide because I really cannot

  • Great post, Rashmie! When you put all of your heart & soul into something, I’ve found through my experience that it’s very hard to fail. Yes, you might end up in a spot that’s not exactly what you first imagined, but it is usually far closer to your dreams than if you had just stayed put and not done anything. That’s what matters – always fighting the good fight and letting life take you where you’re meant to go. Thanks again for the great writing – connect with me on my blog if you’d like 🙂

  • Sonal Savaratkar

    though your article negates the concept “perfect time”. But I would say this post came to me at perfect time 😉 thanks a lot.

  • Dee

    I’ve been very confused about what to do after my Undergrad studies but after reading this article, I realize it’s no big deal going for what my heart really wants. Because that’s gonna be enough in itself i guess. 🙂

  • Karen

    What can one do when the dream has no subject, only confusion and doubt?