When I started my business, I did all the regular planning and strategising but at the start, feeling a wee bit terrified and overwhelmed, I developed a basic motto and benchmark for myself: ‘say yes to my business everyday’.
What that meant was no matter how daunted I was feeling, no matter how low in energy, or busy finishing up a task from yesterday, I would try to do something that demonstrated that I believed in my business, and was moving it forward.
Write a blog post.
Email a potential new client.
Get brochures made.
Start a twitter account.
Write 5 ideas for that thing.
The very idea seemed like a far-out big dream. It seemed kind of unreal. The magnitude of everything that needed doing was overwhelming. There was the very real danger that I would freeze in fright, or run screaming to something easier. Resistance and disbelief were present and very busy having their say about the whole situation.
The intangible barriers – disbelief that I could really do it, shock at the freedom to choose the shape my work took, fear of the responsibilities that would come as I stepped out into the unknown, feeling a changing sense of who I was in the world of work as I established myself in a new field – these are what made doing things hard. Not the tasks themselves.
Taking something that doesn’t exist yet and bringing it into life is a very different prospect than working on something that is already there. It takes courage, it is a giant leap of faith.
So although I had a business plan and a big list of tasks, at the end of the day I considered myself successful if I had just shown up and said yes in a tangible way sometime during that day. I realised that taking any action at all was a huge act of faith and courage. And I didn’t even care which action I took – I let go of the sense that there was one defined way the tasks should unroll.
So when I hear people saying that they have a lingering dream that they can’t yet bring themselves to work on I suggest also that they just try saying yes everyday. No task has to be huge. People are often working and parenting and doing a million other things, and busy like we all are. No one task has to be huge, but if you are doing even a teensy small thing every day you are subtly shaping your view of who you are. The dream feels more real, closer. You are shaping the view of you that people around you have. You are bringing the new identity close and into sharper definition.
Say yes with the little things, say yes with the opportunities that jump in front of you.
Want to start a new business? Want to publish a book? Want to be an exhibiting artist? Want to write a song and have it played by an orchestra? Want to sell your hand made things at a market? Want to start a not for profit? Want to go live on an island? Want to try running your first workshop?
If you have a dream that’s been hanging around making your heart heavy because you’ve started to wonder if it’s even remotely possible or whether you’ll ever take the first step, just find a way to do something that leads you closer to the dream, every single day.
Make a vision board.
Tell someone at your next BBQ or lunch date about your dream.
Find a book written by someone who has already done it.
Find a community group, MeetUp group our networking group that supports people who do this thing, and go to their next meeting.
Sign up for a short course.
Write in your journal about it.
Send that email.
Ask to help someone out.
Fill your house with the equipment you need, the visual reminders of your dream.
Find a mentor.
No single task has to ‘succeed’ or deliver your dream to you on a plate. The main goal is movement and repeated conviction: that you keep showing up and saying (through your words and actions) that you care about this thing, that you want it. And that you are willing to do things to get it.
Anything that helps show the world what you are passionate about, helps connect you with people who work in that field, anything that builds your skills, anything that builds your confidence that you can do one or more of the required tasks, anything that fills you with fun and energy and reconnecting with the dream. Just say yes to the dream, anyway you can, even though it’s terrifying, even though it feels so far away.
Know that if you turn up and keep saying yes soon you will win your own trust back, the small actions will begin to create ripples, and your dream will start saying yes to you.