Friday, February 12, 2010

Take the reigns - follow your dreams {Zanesville OH Photographer}

Most mornings I wake up before the rest of the house, work out, take my shower, and sit down at my desk with a cup of coffee. I start off by checking my email, and other places that I receive client correspondence, such as Facebook. Doesn't sound very exciting, I know, but Facebook is a daily reminder of just how blessed I am to be living smack dab in the middle of my very own dream! Do I have fortune, and fame? No. But I get to homeschool my daughter. And I never miss any of my kids' important moments. I schedule my own hours. And when I DO go to 'work' I LOVE every single second of it, because I am passionate about it. I realized a dream, and I set goals to achieve that dream. (If you haven't already, you can check out my own dream at Bella Valentina Photography)
Many of us have dreams, yet too few pursue them. Going after the dream can feel so daunting that it just feels easier to dream it than to live it. The thing is, none of us want to get to 75 and look back with sad regrets, and emptiness. I want to know I've lived all the life I've been given, whatever that means. So what are your dreams?

And what's holding you back? 

For many people its several things... A fear of public humiliation, fear of letting others down, not knowing where to start, not having enough confidence, or thinking they're too old, or that they don't have enough time. The thing is, its ok to be afraid. Fear and anxiety are natural feelings so don't expect to be entering a new venture without some pretty intense emotions. You have to decide whether you're going to give them more room in your head than the excitement, anticipation and joy that are equally present. If you listen too much to the anxious feelings, they'll tell you to stop before you begin. Get an image in your head of you at your most successful and let her have more room than the 'little' you that will keep you small if you let her. Draw a self-portrait of your successful self. Start a vision board or scrapbook and put her on page one. Fill it with your drawings or poetry (yours and others), clippings from magazines and newspapers, anything that helped you define your dream.

Identify the skills you already have

Being a homemaker requires courage, tenacity, planning, determination and flexibility. All those qualities are also required for any new venture. For one month keep a journal in your scrapbook of everything you do in your daily life and the qualities and skills you use to do them. Then imagine yourself in your new activity and list the skills you'll need, marking a tick next to the ones you already have. In some cases you may need retraining or some education, but in most cases  people already have the skills and qualities they'll need for a new vocation.

Have a support system

Find someone (more than one if possible) to be a support person/group, and touch base with them on a regular basis. Part of their purpose is to help keep you on track. At the beginning tell your support group your long-term aspirations and at least one short-term goal per week. Other people's jobs are to encourage, brainstorm new ideas and tell you you are wonderful. This is no joke. When the going gets difficult, you need to have people on your side. A few good words from someone you trust can brighten anyone's day. Make sure you do not include anyone who will tell you why your ideas won't work. It's fine to have someone point out some of the pitfalls, but you do not need negativity – it just feeds the little you.

Be grounded

Be realistic. You may dream of being a football star at 50, but it's unlikely to happen. However, you could get involved in the back end, coaching, sponsoring, or any number of related areas. One of the problems that people with impossible dreams encounter is that they make them so big, that not only is it unlikely they'll be able to achieve them, it is equally likely that they will be the best excuse never to begin. I'm a great believer in impossible dreams (I have them myself!), but make sure they can be broken down into 'bite-size' chunks, so that you can see a beginning, middle and end to each chunk. If my dream is to be a top selling author I can stay in my head autographing novels and never start writing the first page. Or I can keep a journal every day, send a short piece into the parish newsletter and write letters to the editor of my favorite magazine as a way of practicing my skills as a writer.

Start networking

Go through your address book and see if there's anyone amongst your current friends, relatives and acquaintances who knows something about the area you are interested in. Don't think in terms of what they can do, rather what or who they know. Identify who's already doing what you want to do and ask to pick their brains. It may seem quite a bold thing to ask but, in my experience, people are usually quite generous about telling others what they know (good for their ego too) and will give not only useful pointers but will alert you of pitfalls as well. Don't forget the internet! Join a forum related to your dream. What better way to learn how to be a great author than to surround yourself by others making a living in the same field?! Its all expanding your network!

Learn to sell yourself

If you don't think you have something to offer, why should anyone else? You don't have to wave a banner to sell yourself, but self-deprecation won't do it either. An exercise to do with your support group is to imagine yourself as a product. What's special about you the product? Why would someone want to 'buy' this product? Who are your 'customers'? How will you reach them? Odd questions to ask yourself, but they will put a new slant on looking at yourself more objectively. Then you need to create a Marketing Plan to launch this new product onto the world.

About that marketing plan...

I know this sounds obvious, but the number of people I've met who have huge dreams and no plans astonishes me. The best way to make a plan that I know is to start with your end point and work backwards. Begin with your goal and think of what would have happened just before you reached it, then what would have happened just before that, and so on till you reach the present day. Draw a graph of what needs to happen when and be clear about the milestones – those key elements that must be in place for your plan to work well. Put people's names next to the milestones. And most important of all, make sure you create a budget so you know what resources you'll have to call upon at each stage. A plan should make you feel supported, secure and freed up. If it feels like a burden, you've got the wrong plan.

Celebrate your small wins

Small steps lead to big accomplishments. But sometimes we can be so fixated on the end result that we don't enjoy the small triumphs that happen along the way. Every phone call, every letter, every new idea, (however far-fetched) I look upon as a win. I suppose one definition of a win is that it something I haven't done before – whether it's successful or not. The mere fact of me giving it a try is my success. Set small, easy short-term goals, and give yourself breathing room. Double the amount of time you think it will take to achieve any of your goals.

Be willing to change your dreams 

Few get it right the first time. Ask any bank manager and they will tell you that the majority of new ventures fail in the first year. That's as true for new businesses as it is for a small home industry. It's actually the journey that counts as much as the end result. If the goal is everything then it's unlikely you'll take pleasure in how you get there. The true accomplishment is in the trying. You may find that half way through setting up your retail furniture shop that you don't really have the temperament to work with the public all day long. You could look on that as a failure. However, at the same time you might have realized that your real passion is for interior design. Changing you mind does not mean you are a failure. It means you've changed your mind!

The point is, if you don't take steps towards realizing  your dreams, no one else will. Take the reigns, and steer your future in the direction YOU want it to go! I'd love to hear your own success stories, or stories about any of your own dreams and what you are doing to achieve them!


Megan Bailey said...

Just what I needed to hear today. Great piece. Thanks.

minconn77 said...

beautifully said... I'll keep my chin up til I hit my sweet success‼♥ Thank you in multiple ways my photo fairy...