I had a dream last night and woke up feeling like my dream may have been more than a meaningless story I was living out in my sleep. I felt like there was a message I was supposed to receive.
While I never remember all the details of my dreams, I do remember the main elements of this story. In this dream, I was in a room (maybe a hotel room) with my husband. There was a knock on the door, and I remember us looking at each other feeling surprised; we weren’t expecting anyone. Upon answering the door, we saw a group of people, energetic and loud, with scooters or motorcycles or maybe those cool Polaris Slingshots. They were excited and wanted us to join them for an adventure. We had to leave right that minute. But it was cold, and I didn’t have pants. I had shorts on, but I get cold easily so that wouldn’t be enough to keep me warm. I felt a huge urge to go, and at the same time a strong hesitance because I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t planned for this. My husband (who is my biggest supporter) told me, “you’ll be ok.” That was enough for me to make the decision to just pick up and go. And then I woke up.
What was the message? Right now, I’m in a stage in our startup business that has me encountering new things every day. I LOVE to learn, however, many of these things are not on my list of things I want to learn, and they show up when I’m not expecting them and can feel overwhelming. Maybe I’m not ready to run an ecommerce product business, I find myself thinking more often than I’d like to. Maybe I should have kept doing what was familiar and comfortable; that would have been easier, right? Just a few more years, and then I would live my dream.
As I look back over my career, I am reminded that at every company, at least once, I was given a position or project that on paper I was not qualified to do and was not in my plan. Many times, the story I told myself was that I wasn’t ready. But in every case, I had someone who believed in me, with no proof I could do it based on my experience, and who told me I would figure it out. And in every case, I not only figured it out, but those were some of my biggest career accomplishments.
As I look back on those opportunities I realize when you take the leap and follow your heart:
- These are the best learning experiences you’ll ever have.
- It is critical to have at least one person with you who believes in you, tells you what you need to hear and cheers you on; and someone you hug you when that is what’s needed and love you unconditionally.
- Your ability to quickly determine what you know and don’t know so you can build a great team of experts who can help fill your gaps and teach you will make or break you.
- You must ask for and accept help (I used the word “must” intentionally – you can’t know and do it all by yourself).
- There is great power in the stories you hear, tell yourself and others and choose to listen to.
- What you’ve done on paper is less important than your character and potential.
When I decided to leave my last Corporate America job, I knew it was time. Time for me to do what I had been dreaming about for years: starting my own business. But was I ready? I had heard a lot about the ups and downs entrepreneurs regularly experience. Was that what I wanted? It was easier for me to find reasons not to go. The voices inside and outside my head were telling me that status quo would be easier, more comfortable and that it was the most responsible choice. It was the choice I was supposed to make, right? I had been preparing financially for years, but this wasn’t the timing in my plan. Having a plan makes me feel safer and in control. However, waiting until I have a rock-solid plan guarantees I’ll miss some of the juicy, life changing moments that come with leaping.
So, I leaped! I asked my son if he wanted to take a shot building a business and launching the product he designed. He, of course, said “yes.”
Was I ready for this new path? Only one way to find out! I walked out the door with my shorts on, got onto the back of the scooter and rode off into the adventure with my hair blowing in the wind and a big smile on my face. Some days I feel the cold and wish I had waited until I had my pants. Other days, I’m filled with the warmth of a support team that reminds me of my dream and my capabilities and the knowledge that we’re bringing products (and eventually services) that positively impact the lives of kids and their families (https://connectionzoo.com/).
Sadly, when I left my last job, one of the most common reactions I heard was, “I wish I could.” My response, “You can!” I also heard repeatedly:
- “I don’t have time (to look for a new job, follow my dream).”
- “If I stay 1 more year, my resume will be even better. I just need to get this skill/experience.”
- “It’s not responsible to just go live your dream. You need a plan. I don’t have a plan”
- “Nowhere is perfect. I’m sure anywhere else I go will have its issues. Easier to stay at the place I know.”
- “Just a few more years and I can retire. I’ll stick it out.”
Do any of these sound familiar? I’m not saying these aren’t legitimate reasons. However, it’s important to examine if they’re really driven by fear vs. the right reasons to stay. It’s easier and more comfortable to just keep doing what we’re doing, even if we’re miserable and/or being nudged by a dream we wish we could pursue. But what do we lose by staying? And what might we gain by getting on the scooter and riding off into an adventure that feeds our soul? The other thing I heard when I told people I was leaving to start this business was, “Of course you are!” Those are the words I choose to keep with me…”Of course I can. Of course I will!”
As we finish this year and look to the new year, it’s a great time to reflect. Consider these questions:
- What makes my heart sing?
- What urges and nudges did I get from my heart this past year?
- What stories did I tell myself when I felt them pulling at my heart?
- Which urges and nudges did I pay attention to? What difference did it make?
- Which did I ignore or talk myself out of following? What difference did it make?
- What do I notice about what gets my attention and what I am willing or not willing to act on?
- What is one thing I will do in the new year to prepare myself to “leap” in pursuit of my dreams when I am nudged – pants or no pants?
- Who are my cheerleaders? What will I share with them about what I desire in my life? How can they help?
My wish for you is that instead of setting New Year’s resolutions, you set a “New Life” resolution to choose and go after the life you want. There are a lot of things you can do to make it happen; I’ll offer what I believe are the 3 most important:
- Start talking about what you want, your dreams, what you imagine for your life, with lots of people. The messy, really, authentic version that is full of feeling and infectious energy, not a polished elevator speech. The more you say it and see it, the more you’ll believe it; and you must believe.
- Identify the people that believe in you, will cheer you on and hold your hand and those people that will hug and love you unconditionally.
- Focus first on why you should have the life you imagine. If your “why” is strong enough, ask yourself not “should I?” but “how will I?”
Here’s to making choices that fill our heart, mind and soul. Imagine it – Share it – Believe it – LIVE it! Cheers!
Feel Well, Be Well, Do Well,
Co-Founder, ConnectHuman, maker of Connection Zoo
Read the previous Authentic Connections Blog: :