Here we go again; another year that’s just beginning, one full of promise and possibility. Where grand ideas get casually tossed around and discussed with exuberance—without much thought to the actual execution of them.
“I will visit three new cities by June!”
“I’m going to increase my small business revenue by 60%!”
“I’m going to move abroad, to a country I’ve never even been to!”
Why is it that it, then, that when we start thinking about the reality of things (aka, how these grand ideas might actually fit into our everyday lives) that almost all of us end up throwing in that proverbial towel?
In other words, why do we tend to give up so quickly on our larger-than-life dreams, rather than persist and see them through?
The honest answer is, as one might guess, mostly fear-based. And while making changes can be scary, dreaming big can actually provide you and your small business with a platform for future growth, helping to accelerate your respective success.
After all, in the words of the beloved Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Articulate Your Dream
We know, we know. Big dreams don’t come easy, and realizing them certainly doesn’t happen overnight. And let’s face it—if everyone could snap their fingers and make their dreams come true, where would the challenge be in that?
So, the first rule of thumb for keeping these big dreams alive and kicking is to first identify what those dreams actually are.
Perhaps a rather tempting (and predictable) answer would be something along the lines of: “I’d like to have one new client by March” or “I’d like to have $XX.XX saved by so-and-so date.”
While these answers aren’t necessarily wrong, they’re not exactly right, either. Remember, if you want to dream big then hold yourself accountable and stop dreaming so small! Think of it this way: If your dreams stay small, so will your business. Start thinking about what you really want even if it seems rather impossible or too far off in the distance.
We recommend starting with a grander vision of where you’d like yourself and your business to be. Once you maintain this crystal clear focus on what you ultimately want to transpire, you might be surprised at how it all manifests. Remember, this dream/vision should be something that really stirs your soul and gets you up in the morning—so don’t you dare settle for anything less.
…Now Share That Dream
Once you’ve come up with this big dream of yours, now it’s time to share it with others. Perhaps you’re wondering, “But I don’t want to make a fool of myself! What if people think I’m crazy to expect to grow my teeny tiny business by 30% in 6 months?”
Au contraire! Dreaming big and articulating that dream out loud does just the opposite. Instead, it helps attract others who see value in that dream, who might very well share it themselves or feel empowered by it. Whatever the case may be, shouting your oh-so-lofty dream from the rooftops can create an instant support network around you to spread your word, stand in your corner, and hold you accountable if you happen to fall off track.
This way, if tough situations do arise, you can always take a step back and put the focus back on your big dream; this allows you to refresh your priorities and/or decide on that one step you can take in the interim in order to realize that dream.
Identify What Scares You
If the thought of dreaming big scares you, take a moment to ask yourself why: Is it because you might fail? That you might appear foolish to others? That you didn’t succeed? That you aimed too high?
Whatever your response may be, being afraid to dream big, just because you might fail, is a bit like saying, “It’s best not to swallow, for fear you might choke.”
Failure is essential to success. Why? It not only helps build character but also garners self-introspection, a skill highly necessary for any sort of substantial growth. Even Thomas Edison echoed this sentiment when he said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
When you let fear limit yourself and your dreams, you’re not able to reach your full potential. And, if you’re not exactly where you’d like to be there’s often a strong temptation to abandon your ambition. You might listen to others around you, advising you to be more conservative with your dreams so as not to feel too disappointed if you happen to fall short of them. While they may have your best intentions at heart, you need to pave your own way and learn to start fearing less. Sure, announcing your dreams doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll reach them right away but not setting them at all will almost certainly guarantee you won’t. Now that’s something to be scared of.
Patience Is a Virtue
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
This very same thinking should apply to your dreams. The key to realizing them is to recognize that it takes time, and a heck of a lot of patience. Your best course of action? Keep your eye on the prize but focus your attention on how attain that prize, little by little, day by day.
And who better to illustrate this concept of patience than the renowned ballet dancer Misty Copeland? Although she was the first black woman ever to be named principal dancer in the prestigious American Ballet Theater, as a teenager, Copeland often felt discouraged from pursuing her dream to dance given her skin color and modest background. However, over a period of many years she chose to persevere, eventually redefining what it means to be a female ballet dancer and serving as a role model for young women all over the world.
While we’re on the topic of perseverance, let’s revisit the I’d-like-to-increase-my-small-business-by-30% idea. Sure, it may seem overwhelming (and entirely improbable if you’re just starting out as a solopreneur) but think of breaking down this overarching obstacle into smaller, more doable challenges like deciding each month you’ll secure at least two new clients. When phrased this way, everything seems a whole lot less daunting, right? Now, to make those dreams actually come to fruition, here are some concrete ways on how to actually make it happen.
As an overall recap, it’s perfectly OK (and encouraged!) to think, aim, and dream big but just make sure you’re not struggling to force yourself to live up to unrealistic expectations. By taking a more calculated approach to your budding business (i.e. taking smaller steps) you’ll be sitting pretty for a grander future.
Are you ready? Check out our next article on how to make your dreams come true.