I see this magnet every morning when I make my coffee.
Don’t be too timid or squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
But sometimes, I actually pay attention. I read this brilliance of Ralph Waldo Emerson and think to myself, “when am I going to take a courageous step, and stop being so timid and scared?”
Have you had a dream that you’ve pushed so far away in the back of your mind, that you hardly remember it’s there? Maybe as a kid, you had a particularly keen eye for beauty and expression of life, and you took pictures with your polaroid camera, wanting to spend all of your days capturing special moments. Maybe you’ve always wanted to be that photographer, and throw all of your energy, inspiration, and time into honing your craft. But this subtle voice of doubt always said: “That isn’t practical. You’ll have to claw your way through the competition. How will you find clients? Better stick to your “safe” job, and “steady” paycheck. You have to eat, remember?” Well I think that voice of doubt is full of crap. And even though I think it’s rubbish, know it’s not really true, and know there are ways to succeed and make your passion work for you in a financially sustainable way, doubt continues to checkmate me. I get so close to winning the game, and then doubt taunts me, making the final move that I wasn’t confident enough to see. Freezing me into inaction and disappointment.
I think that’s part of the problem. Not seeing past the doubt to the truth. Not taking small, courageous steps toward your dreams each day. Allowing society’s measure of “success” to dictate what you do with your life. If you know what you’re capable of, and know that you have to take a stab at achieving you dreams, because anything else just feels like a distraction, the first thing to do is to determine your own definition of success.
I’ve thought about what success means to me quite a bit lately. There have been times in my life where I subscribed to the traditional, Americanized version of success: becoming a doctor, lawyer, or fabulously wealthy entrepreneur; owning a house so large that the smallest sounds echo; driving fancy, gas-guzzling “look at me – I have money!” SUVs. There have been times where I felt unfulfilled, and I tried to fill that void by shopping, buying clothes and shoes and purses I didn’t need. None of those material things made me fulfilled or happy. In fact, they made me feel bloated with the hangover of excess. Somehow, this didn’t seem like right living. Not when there are children in parts of the world that don’t own a single pair of shoes, and eat dirt cookies dried in the sun to fill their bellies.
Success to me, is about real, heartfelt connections. It’s about giving the best parts of me to the world. A sense of community and unity. It’s about people helping people. It’s about doing my very small part to heal and create change. Success to me, is having the freedom to curl up under the cozy covers with a book, with my dogs snoring softly on the floor nearby. Success to me, is staying continually in awe of nature. Success to me, is having a beginner’s mind.
It is only a matter of time before the urge to become who I’m meant to be becomes so strong, that I will have to forego what I’ve been doing and change my life completely. In the meantime, I’ve begun to change right where I am. I’ve done this by making a conscious effort to connect with people at work, even if it’s just with eye contact and a genuine smile, or asking about their children and really taking the time to listen. Offering someone undivided attention and presence is powerful. With our electronically-dominated world, this is becoming a rare and needed gift. More often, I step outside of my bubble and make small talk with the person bagging my groceries. Giving and connecting, and being radically grateful for all I have, has made all the difference. I’ve ditched my victim mentality, I’ve stopped belly-aching about the trivial, and I’ve started getting REAL.
And guess what? I will silence that voice of doubt. I will go for it, fully, and with abandon. The only question that remains, is…when? And when will you go for your dream? Let me know, I’d love to hear your story, your dream.