6 Tips on Finding the Courage to Pursue Your Dreams


The Long Road Home
Following your dreams can be tough. Not only do you have to go through many years of hard work, self-doubt and pain, but also deal with the uncertainty of actually getting to where you want to be. It can take a lot of courage to keep going.

When I look back on the goals and dreams I’ve accomplished, I can see how important courage was to their success. Finding courage can give you an inner strength to continue despite setbacks and keep going even when you want to quit. If you imagine persistence as the engine of success, then I see courage as its fuel. Fortunately there are some things you can do to instill your own courage as you pursue your dreams.

1. Realize Fear Will Never Go Away

You can’t eliminate fear; you can only control it. Fear and risk avoidance are natural functions of the brain. According to recent studies, risk aversion fully develops around age 25. So by the time you reach that age, you’re less likely to do something risky such as starting a new career or business.

This is important to note since all dreams have an inherent risk to them. Any dream you have means breaking out of your comfort zone or taking a chance on an uncertain future. Part of the power of finding courage is in being able to recognize your fears and do what you need to do anyways.

2. Understand the importance of persistence

Nobody is successful overnight. Ask anyone who has reached their dream how much work they put into it and you’ll hear about all the years they struggled through. Your dream will be no different. You have to think about the long term.

Take the story of Michele Hoskins. She bottled and sold her grandmother’s syrup recipe to local grocery stores. However, she was more interested in selling it to the restaurant chain Denny’s. They told her they weren’t interested.

Michele wasn’t deterred though and called them every single Monday at 10:30AM for two years. Eventually the needs of the company changed and she got the contract. If she had given up right away she would have missed out on an opportunity that made her a millionaire.

3. Surround yourself with people who believe in you

We all need a little encouragement sometimes. Finding people to support you in your goals can really help you find the strength to keep going. When you have self-doubt, they can remind you of your potential. They can also remind you how far you’ve come.

And even though a group of supportive people is helpful, the most important person that needs to believe in you is yourself. How is anyone suppose to believe in you if you can’t even do that? When you believe that you can reach your dreams, courage comes naturally.

4. Ignore doubters

There will always be people that will doubt your ability to reach your goals. They might think you’re not talented enough or lucky enough to succeed. It’s important to ignore their comments and continue towards your dream.

Depending on how negative they are, you might need to limit your contact with them. It already takes a lot of hard work and belief in yourself to get where you want to be; you don’t need someone filling your mind with doubts.

5. Understand the role of failure

The role of failure and success are often misunderstood. Most of the time, you can’t have one without the other. This idea goes along with persistence in that you can’t succeed in the pursuit of your dreams right away. Dealing with failure is inevitable.

But failure is actually an important step on your way to reaching your dreams. It’s a great learning opportunity to figure out what went right or wrong so you can take a different approach next time. This feedback is invaluable.

In fact, many companies celebrate their failures. The Tata group, a large Indian conglomerate, awards an annual prize for the best failed idea. Proctor and Gamble encourages employees to talk about their failures along with their successes. They’ve all realized that failure often paves the way to success and you should too.

6. Find value in challenges

It’s no secret that reaching your dreams will mean overcoming challenges. How you view the challenges you face can seriously affect the amount of courage you have. If you look at them negatively, you’ll naturally try to avoid them. And all avoiding them does is make the challenges more difficult.

Find value in the challenges you face. If you value challenges, it will be easier to face them. This little change can really make a big difference.

Finding the Courage

Chasing your dreams can be difficult. I’ve been experiencing that difficulty firsthand as I make my way through grad school. Over the past two years, I’ve had to deal with almost every one of the items on this list. Believe me, it’s been a long struggle.

But no matter what comes my way, I still find the courage to continue. Finding that courage has been really helpful in the pursuit of my dreams. Hopefully these tips will give you the courage to pursue your own. Even though it can be hard, there are at least some things you can do to make that dream a reality.

Do you have any other tips on finding courage? Have you used any of these before in the pursuit of your dreams?
photo credit: Stuck in Customs

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  1. It’s pretty simple, really. Mess something up a few times and you know one more thing not to do. Keep on going, and you’ll eventually get it right.

    Hopefully sooner rather than later.

    But who cares how long it’s going to take when you’re trying to achieve your dreams.

    • That’s a really good point. Who cares how long it takes as long as you keep going towards your dream? After all, you only live once so why not spend it chasing a goal that makes you happy. Even if you don’t make it, you’re bound to have some great adventures along the way. Hopefully you do make it though, sooner rather than later.

  2. Hi Steve,

    I like to define courage first.

    Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the ability to do things despite the presence of fear.

    People like me are natural risk takers. But it still took me some form of personal crisis before I decided to be courageous and strike out on a different road. Many people on the other hand, simply prefer to stay status quote.

    One way to build courage is to become widely read in the things we can do in life. There is really so much out there. Staying put for comfort is certainly a very sad way to experience life. When we can imagine all the good things out there, we will be able to find the courage to get going despite all forms of fear. What is there to lose?

    • Hey Jimmy,

      That’s how I would define courage too. I don’t see fear as something you can get rid of, but as something you can overcome.

      You’re right that read a wide variety of things can build courage. When I read about someone doing something amazing, it inspires me to do something similar. It can give you a great idea of all the things in the world there is to do and see. You can probably get inspired from certain movies too. Anything that can get someone out of their status quo and break through their comfort zone would work. Thanks for sharing that.

  3. Steve,

    Thanks for these awesome tips. I found the most value in…well all 6 of them. Understanding that fear will never go away is huge. For some reason people think by taking the first step towards reaching their goals is enough to keep them going. It’s not. Fear is continual and is something we must constantly overcome.

    The best way to challenge fear is to continually go after it. Continually. This was great. Thanks Steve!

    • Hey Frank,

      I love the idea of challenging fear by continually going after your goals. In fact, I think that is a big part of what motivates me to continue going a lot of the time. When things get rough, I like to persist so I can prove to myself that I don’t let fear run my decisions. So far it has worked pretty well.

  4. Hey Steve,
    I notice that whenever I begin to pursue a new venture that my “fear” and uncertainty will begin to kick in.

    I have learned through the years to act in spite of these feelings because the feelings are a sign of growth.

    • I think viewing fear and uncertainty that way is helpful. I know that there have been times when I let fear and uncertainty make decisions for me before. Many of the times, it made me miss out on some opportunities. But after I changed my perspective on fear and uncertainty and saw them as good things, I have become much better at taking risks and getting those opportunities.

  5. Surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people is definitely a must. There are too many nay-sayers in this world, but NOTHING is impossible!

    • Hey Liv!
      Even when we say ‘nothing is impossible’, there’s still negativity hidden underneath, so say it ‘everything is possible’. You come across pitfalls, you want to quit at somepoint, you FEAR to face all the hurdles, but you’ll surely overcome if you’ve faith in yourself and your hard work.

      • Hey Jo,

        I like the spin you put on that phrase to make it a little more positive and uplifting. That’s how I’m going to phrase it from now on.

    • There really are too many nay-sayers in the world. I find it interesting how de-motivated I become when I hang around them too much. It’s so much better to surround yourself with positive people who believe in you.

  6. I think #4 is so important. It’s amazing how many people try to squash your dreams (even when they don’t realize what they’re doing)!

    • Yeah, many people can put you off your dreams without realizing what they’re doing. Perhaps they’re responding to their own fears or insecurities. You can try and help them overcome those obstacles, but sometimes you just have to let them figure it out on their own.

  7. I’ve just started learning to fail. All because of Carol Dweck’s book on Mindset. It’s really has changed my life – for instance I have been trying to learn the keyboard on and off for 15 years but always got stuck at hard bit and gave up trying to stretch myself.

    Since reading Carol’s book I’ve managed to move beyond the difficult bits and play with more confidence.

    • Hey Chris, I haven’t read that book yet, but I’ll check it out. Your struggle with the keyboard sounds like my attempts at learning the guitar. I’ve played it off and on for years and I can play a few tunes on it. I’m not as good as I’d like to be though. Thanks for sharing.

  8. very inspirational! I need more of this nowadays. thanks for sharing! :)

  9. Awesome article, really wanting to take the plunge, need this..thank you

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