What are the steps that will take you from where you are to where you want to be?
As a coach, I’ve been helping people create a life they’re wild about for almost a decade. Usually that life is one rich with the joy of authenticity, self-expression and creativity and often that creativity is channeled into an entrepreneurial adventure of some kind. If I look closely at the beautiful, determined work that my clients do, I notice some trends, some things that are ever present when they begin to realize their dreams. I share these with you in the hopes of encouraging and supporting you to take your own steps, ones that will bring you closer to your dreams.
Magic not Miracles
Let me say at the outset that the success I have observed is rarely (though not never) dramatic. It’s not a random miracle dropped into your lap, unexpected and unearned. It’s not one opportunity or one decision. It’s not one class or one product launch that out of nowhere takes you from zero to six-figure hero.
That’s not to say there aren’t leaps in progress and moments where we find ourselves deep in flow and whooshing to the next level. There are magical moments when all of our hard work comes together and something just clicks. These moments are highlights on a long, passionate and demanding journey and the magic is something we can create conditions for but that we can’t control, expect or rely on.
So if success is not the miracle of an instantaneous dream come true, a lottery ticket, a winning decision, a 6-figure launch, being discovered, then what is it that gets us where we want to go?
Perhaps the very first thing required for success is belief, a willingness to believe that something other than what is, is possible.
This doesn’t have to be a belief in something specific or big. This isn’t setting a goal such as, “I will be leading retreats in Bali in two years based on the success of the three books that I will have written and published between now and then.” There are many experts out there that recommend this kind of specificity but I believe it really starts with something much smaller. If we have no belief that we could ever leave our day job, if we have no belief that we could ever find time to write (never mind being published), if we have no belief that anyone will be interested in our work, if we have no belief that we can risk giving up the security of what we have, then we stay put and those dreams run through our mind on repeat as we lapse into despair.
For this reason, right at the beginning, we have to find our way to a very simple belief – the belief that something other than what is right now is possible.
Once we believe that it is possible for things to be different, we have to be willing to risk upsetting the apple cart. Moving from how things are to how you’d like them to be involves a willingness to try something new, something that may not work. It means be willing to lose, to fail, to make mistakes, to be embarrassed all in the service of what might be possible.
Being willing to risk not only creates the opportunity for gain but it also gives our self-confidence the chance to grow. We are empowered by taking action that is aligned with our hearts. Our confidence grows, our capabilities grow and our dream-realizing muscles get stronger when we actually give it a shot.
Yes, we all have limited control over the results of our actions but we can feel proud of ourselves for taking them. We prove our strength to ourselves and grow our belief in ourselves when we risk stepping into what just might be possible. In those moments, we remind ourselves of what we are capable of.
That feeling of strength, of progress, of knowing that you are moving towards what you dream of or, more simply, that you are moving towards something that is better for you even if you don’t know what it is, that always involves bravery. Always.
The steps that require your courage may not look like they require much bravery to anyone else (and that might even lead you to underestimating the bravery in you) but nobody can tell you what qualifies as brave. You get to define bravery for yourself; only you know when you are truly heroic.
I saw this demonstrated very clearly in my coaching training. One aspiring coach challenged another to tell 50 people about her new business by the end of the week. Her response? Sure! She was an extrovert going to a conference that weekend. 50 people? Easy! But what happened when later she was challenged to tell her mom? Her knees wobbled! That’s where she had to channel her inner hero.
Bravery is a very personal thing. Whatever is calling you, that dream, that desire, it’s going to ask you to be brave.
Along with belief, risk and bravery is a far less sexy piece to the puzzle, one that is greatly undervalued, especially in our fast-paced online world: effort.
Whatever you want to achieve, become, experience, create, it will involve doing the work, making an effort, being consistent, learning your craft. If you really want to be published, you need to write. If you really want to sell your art, you need to make some. If you want people to know about what you do, you need to share – over and over again. You have to do the work.
What I see in my clients is that week after week after week after week they take steps – sometimes big, sometimes small, sometimes backwards, mostly forward . They consistently show up, say yes, say no, face obstacles, wrestle with fear, find bravery. They chose to risk, to learn, to dare. They do whatever work it takes to keep moving towards what calls.
Choosing ways to honour the work instead of resent it, finding ways to love the work in all of its expressions, staying connected to the value and meaning of the work and nourishing yourself deeply as you show up for it, all of these things, will support you in making the effort.
If you are being being brave and risking, if you’re believing in possibility and you’re making the effort and still the energy just isn’t picking up, if you’re feeling heavy and tired and not in that good “end of the day, job well done” kind of way, if you feel like you’re churning and burning out, change something. Make a move.
I’m not talking about changing your destination (though sometimes you might). I’m not talking about about giving up on your dream, your vision or your goal. I’m talking about dance moves, little shifts in approach, timing, partners.
There isn’t one way to get to your dreams. There isn’t one route or one plan. Because this class isn’t working, it doesn’t mean you are not a teacher. Because this piece keeps getting rejected – that doesn’t mean you are not a writer. Don’t let go of your dreams. Give them a chance to dance and develop in their own way. Stay focused on your direction but flexible on your path. Don’t just take steps. Dance.
I offer up these observations in support of your dreams, in the hope that they will help you on your journey to success. That instead of waiting for a dramatic miracle, you will make your own magic. That you will find in your heart the willingness to believe that something else, something wonderful, is possible for you. That you will find your bravery and risk upsetting the “way it is” apple cart. That you will show up again and again and make the effort of bringing your dreams to life and whenever you get stuck along the way, I hope you’ll dance.