You don’t hear that too often, do you?
The Internet is full of “dream big, don’t stay small, manifest your huge goals”.
But what if the size of your dream is the very thing that’s stopping you from making it real?
If the size of the change we want to make is huge, it scares us. When all we see is the big, shiny completed vision, it obscures our first step.
We get scared into doing nothing.
We do need that vision of what could be. We absolutely need it.
But on it’s own, it’s not enough. Great things don’t come in one giant step. They take time and lots of small steps along the way.
If we ask our brain to move from 0 to 100% complete in one swoop, it’s too much. It shuts down and we do nothing about that dream.
This happens all the time when contemplating a career move, or starting our own business. On one hand we see our current reality of an unfulfilling job. On the other we see our perfect future: Us as a successful company owner, non-profit founder, or whatever our big beautiful dream is.
We fantasise for a while, but we don’t think about the steps on the way, so we remain stuck.
We wouldn’t do this in the rest of our lives.
If we were planning to run a marathon, we wouldn’t just attempt it without preparation and training.
Running 26.2 miles is a huge goal, so if we were going to try it, we’d put in the hours of preparation, training and hard work needed to get ready.
But, when we’re thinking about a big career move, or starting out on our own, the way we think is often more like showing up on the starting line for that marathon still wearing our office shoes.
The reality of making a different move in your career is that it can be a process where you take small steps and make incremental progress. We need a plan for how all of those small steps come together. That’s how we start to imagine actually achieving our dreams, no matter how big they are.
Your next move doesn’t have to be a big, scary leap. Yes, there are people who just quit with no plan and figure it out as they go, just like I’m sure there are people who start a marathon with no training, but it’s not the recommended or sensible way.
If you want to ease gradually into doing something else, start small, but start now.
Here are 3 steps you can start right now without getting daunted by the size of the change you want to make.
1 – Start listing ideas
Any ideas will do. Even if you’re sure of what your next step will be, I still recommend coming up with lots of variations of it. It gets your brain in the kind of problem solving / creative frame that you’ll need.
2 – Use your network
Once you have an idea of your next step, start talking to people about it. It doesn’t have to be public, or overtly obvious, but you can potentially find new opportunities, future clients and great tweaks to your idea just by talking to those you know.
3 – Start the new before you leave the old
In the same way as you’re going to train before doing that marathon, dip into your new thing before you leave your current job.
If you dream of quitting to build a software product, start building a prototype.
If you want to move into freelancing, take some clients in the evenings / weekends.
If you want a job in a completely unrelated field, get some experience by volunteering or making new connections.
You can take this as far as you like – some of the best, least scary moves happen by establishing something on the side, so there’s no big move to make, it’s just a natural progression.
Whatever path you choose, don’t see it as a leap of faith. See it as a challenge you can train for, practice and tackle ever-bigger goals in until you make it.