How To Follow Your Dreams (Step-By-Step PDF Guide)
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Following Your Dreams Is All About Starting…
Have you been dreaming about something… maybe for years but you haven’t done anything about it because you’re really not sure how to follow your dreams?
You know, sometimes we make things more complicated than they really are.
For instance, there’s a story about a man in India who dug a 5-mile road by himself with only a garden hoe, pickaxe and chisel through a mountain…
Yes, through a mountain!
You see, his three sons were walking three hours one way to school and it was a difficult path. So he decided to take matters into his own hands and create a shorter route.
To me, that’s a single-minded pursuit of a dream… A dream for his sons to have better access to education.
Think about it, what if he had waited for someone else to build the road? He’d probably still be waiting.
But he didn’t wait… he got started where he was with what he had.
If you’d like to pursue your dreams and transform your life but you really don’t know how… then keep reading. I’m sharing 12 practical steps you can begin taking right away to move toward your dreams.
Step #1 – Develop The Mindset You Need To Follow Your Dreams
Your mindset defines you and shapes both your present and future.
In fact, this is such an important topic that I’ve dedicated a separate post to this topic, which you can read here.
Henry Ford said it like this: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
Here are five key growth mindsets you’ll need to develop to pursue and reach your dreams:
- Keep in mind from the outset that the journey is just as important as the end goal.
- Be open to the unexpected as surprising new opportunities may come your way.
- Understand that you will fail your way to success so don’t give up.
- Recognize that you can’t reach your dreams alone.
- Involve your spouse and family in your journey from the beginning to keep your relationships strong.
Step #2 – Discover Your Strengths And Passions
I want to encourage you to approach this step with a growth mindset. Even if you already know what you’re good at, people change through new experiences so you might discover a new strength or passion that you didn’t know you had.
An easy and fun way to learn new things about yourself is to take online tests. Some of them are free, and others you’ll need to pay for.
Here are a few you could try:
- DISC Personality Test (has a free and paid version)
- Myers-Briggs Personality Test (free)
- CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthsFinder – paid)
Keep this in mind — finding what you’re good at or passionate about may not be easy…
But the reason why dreams are so important is that they help us to live with excitement and passion.
On the other hand, a life without passion is one reason why phrases like “the daily grind” exist.
In his book, Intentional Living, leadership expert John C. Maxwell suggests these 3 questions to help you begin to uncover your passion and purpose… your “why”:
- What makes you cry?
- What makes you sing?
- What do you dream of doing or becoming?
Step #3 – Experiment To Find Out If The Quizzes Are True
After you’ve taken a few online tests, look for ways to verify if they’re accurate. One of the easiest ways to do this is through volunteering and there are lots of organizations who would love to have your help.
Here are some places you can look to volunteer:
- Local sports clubs
- Community events
- Community clubs
Or, you could take on a new project or volunteer at work related to your interests. This will help you learn about yourself and will also make you stand out to your manager.
However, if you’re not able to do either of the first two suggestions, then I want to encourage you to focus on growing in the ways that you can.
Try experimenting or simply step out more fully in your current commitments.
At the same time, be sure to continue to prioritize your marriage and family first and involve them in your growth journey.
Step #4 – Decide If You Want It To Be A Hobby Or A Business
Once you’ve found what you want to do, either through work or through volunteering, decide how you’d like to pursue your dream.
Do you want to turn it into a side business? Or would you prefer to keep it as a fun hobby or volunteer activity?
Thing is, even though you might enjoy doing it for fun, you may not want to turn it into a business and that’s okay.
Regardless, you can pursue your passion in a way that works for you and makes sense for your life.
And if you’re not sure how to tell the difference between a hobby and a business, it’s really quite simple: according to Christy Wright in her book Business Boutique, a hobby costs you money while a business makes you money.
Step #5 – Find Mentors Who Can Help You Pursue Your Dreams
Once you’ve decided the direction that you want to go in, find mentors to help you along the way. We all need people who are further along in the journey than we are because we can only go so far on our own.
So how do you find a mentor? Here are a couple of suggestions to find mentorship:
First, look for people who live near your area who have expertise in the area you want to learn about and ask them if they’d be willing to provide mentoring.
You will likely need to pay for their time as they will be further along than you in their career and their time is valuable.
Second, an easy and low-cost alternative is to choose an expert in your industry and read their books, listen to their podcasts or read their blogs. This is a great way to expand your list of possible mentors.
Another huge benefit of finding mentors is that it can help cut down the learning curve as you learn from both their successes and mistakes.
Step #6 – Get Training That Will Bring You Closer To Your Dreams
First, research skills, knowledge and expertise you’ll need to get to where you want to go and make a list.
Next, do a self-analysis of the current skills and experience you have and then compare the two lists.
Most likely, you’ll already have some of the skills and knowledge you’ll need but not everything.
Third, look at the gap between where you are now and who you need to become to reach your dream and focus on narrowing that gap. Choose one or two areas to get started on.
Finally, do some more research and find out what training you can take to develop these new areas. There are so many different options to get training and education, whether free or paid:
- Interviewing experts in the field
Step #7 – Surround Yourself With People Who Will Help You Follow Your Dreams
Even though this is #7, this is really important… Because unfortunately, not everyone close to you may support your new goals and that can be tough.
The lack of support may be subtle or overt criticism.
Regardless, you absolutely need to have people – whether family or friends or other support – in your corner during a transition or transformation to cheer you on.
For, as Eric Hoffer says, “we think well of ourselves only in rare moments… We need people to convince us that we are not as bad as we think we are.”
I would suggest that these three things are some of the most important qualities to look for in your support:
First, a person who will believe in your potential and remind you of that when you lose sight of your dreams.
Second, look for those that will cheer you on even when you’re discouraged so you don’t give up. Often times, people don’t achieve their dreams because they give up too soon.
And third, find someone who will give you some honest feedback. Some dreams are way out in left field or don’t match our gifts, talents or abilities and we need people in our lives who will kindly point out the truth.
Step #8 – Move Toward Your Dream By Stepping Into New Opportunities
Practice, practice, practice!
Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 medals and he would train 6 hours a day, 6 days a week, even if a training day fell on a holiday like Christmas. He didn’t win those medals by accident — he trained.
Step out in your new area (or practice right where you’re at).
Although this is similar to #3, now that you know what your passion or purpose is, this step is more focused. So it’s about being intentional about which opportunities you pursue.
“Some of us have great runways already built for us. If you have one, take off! But if you don’t have one, realize it is your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for yourself and for those who will follow after you.”
– Amelia Earhart
As you move toward your dreams, new opportunities will begin to move toward you but first, you need to take action.
Remember, your dream won’t be handed to you. If you want it, you have to go out and make it happen!
Step #9 – Begin Building Your Business
By now, hopefully, you’ve decided whether you’d like to turn your passion into a business or keep it as a hobby.
There’s no right or wrong answer for that, it just depends on what you want and what works for you and your family.
If you’re going to keep this as a hobby or volunteer activity, then you can skip ahead to #10. On the other hand, if you’d like to make your dream into a business, then keep reading.
Now, I’m not going to go in-depth about this topic as there’s already a lot of other great resources out there. Here’s a list of just some resources that may be helpful:
- Christy Wright’s podcast Business Boutique – teaches women how to make money doing what they love
- Amy Porterfield’s Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast – teaches people how to build email lists, create online training and webinars.
- The Jennifer Allwood Show (podcast) – teaches creatives how to make money online
- ProBlogger (blog) – helps you to make money blogging
- The Smart Passive Income Podcast – learn how to build a business with passive income
Step #10 – Look For The Right People To Work With
You’ll likely want to find the right people to work with both if you want to make it into a business or if you’d like to keep it as a hobby.
If you want to create your own business, then you’ll want to develop relationships with people to partner with (to help promote your business) or to potentially work with you down the road.
Start building these relationships before you need them as with any type of relationship, they take time to develop.
This is an ongoing challenge for a lot of organizations but at the same time, the law of attraction is at work here. So the more you develop your leadership skills and character, the more you’ll be able to attract the right fit for your organization.
Another reason to begin looking for potential team members in advance is that it gives you time to test the waters (even if they don’t know it) and see if they might be a good fit. Look for people who are strong in areas where you’re weak because you want them to compliment your skill set, not duplicate it.
However, what’s even more important than skill set is finding people who share your values.
Even if you have a hobby, you still may want to partner with people so you’ll want to look for like-valued people.
Step #11 – Intentionally Spend Time Around Like-Minded People
This is slightly different from #5 and #7 because here you’re looking for peers to learn from. This would include like-minded people in your industry who are further ahead than you that you can model yourself after. Ideally, these people will encourage and challenge you.
For example, if you want to be a coach, find people who also want to be coaches but are a bit further along. That’s why my husband and I joined the John Maxwell online coaching certification. We found mentors (expert coaches) as well as like-minded people (other people taking the program).
Another reason to surround yourself with like-minded people is that you’ll gain a more accurate picture of your dream instead of what you just imagine it’s like.
Don’t let anybody fool you – there’s a cost for everything… you can’t have it all.
For instance, if you want to juggle a family and a career, you can do both… however, you can’t work 40 hours/week and then be home with your kids for 40 hours/week too. (I don’t recommend giving up sleep!)
The last thing I want to mention is that being around people who are further ahead than you can give you a picture of what success could look like for you. And knowing what success looks like is important because if you can’t visualize what success looks like to you, you won’t get there.
Step #12 – Bringing And Keeping Your Spouse On Board
This is a much bigger topic than I can cover here as it depends so much on where the relationship is as well as your circumstances (ie; debt, kids, ageing parents, other commitments, etc).
However, one of the most important things you can do is to keep listening to your spouse’s needs, wants and what he (or she) cares about. Staying connected with him and helping him to feel a part of the journey can help him to be happy with what you’re doing.
Even when you’re busy, make it a priority to stay connected.
Marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman discovered that successful couples spend an extra 6 hours per week together (used to be called the Magic Five Hours). These moments were often small moments that couples were intentional about connecting at the beginning, in the middle and end of their days. All these small moments add up to 6 hours by the end of the week.
My husband and I practice a high/low exercise each day and this helps us to continually discover new things about each other. We simply ask these questions:
- What was the high point of your day?
- What was the low point of your day?
- What was the God moment of your day?
Keep communication lines open and discuss shifts in roles. If you pursue this dream or goal, then who will pick up the kids? Who will cook meals, do laundry, etc?
What To Do If You Don’t Have Support From Your Spouse
Again, this is a much larger topic than I can address in one blog post for the reason that if you don’t have support, there’s a reason for that.
So, as a starting point, I would suggest to keep growing and learning wherever possible with where you’re currently at. However, don’t put so much time or effort into your dream that it raises flags with your spouse.
Here’s the thing, you can grow a lot in the beginning without a lot of money:
- online courses (ie; The Great Courses)
- youtube videos
- books from the library
There’s SO much good free information you can use to grow.
Also, I would also suggest focussing on working on your marriage at the same time as you invest in your personal development.
Because if you achieve your dream but you lose your family, then what have you really gained in the end?
You don’t have to sacrifice your marriage and family to follow your dreams and transform your life.
We love to hear from you! How are you chasing your dreams? Share in the comments below.
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