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