Have you ever had a time in your life when you had a dream of achieving something, but it never quite took off?
Is there something you want to do, or somewhere you want to go, but you keep putting it off?
Well, imagine right now if you were able to have the courage and confidence to follow through with your dreams and make them a reality.
Life is not a dress rehearsal; we only get one shot at getting it right. So, when it comes time to look back on how you have lived your life…… ask yourself the following questions:
What do you want to have experienced?
What do you want to have achieved?
Who do you want to have been?
Who do you want to have loved?
Where do you want to have travelled?
How do you want to be remembered?
"One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises,
I never used to dream big. I had struggled with anxiety from such a young age and the thought of being outside my comfort zone was too scary. So I played small, I played safe.
I would like to take you back to 1981. I was 11 years old. I was at school, sitting in my usual spot at the back of the classroom, in the corner. My English teacher was about to choose the next person to go to the front of the class and read a passage from a book. I was trying to make myself as small as possible, so he wouldn’t pick me.
Then I hear my name. I could feel my heart racing. My face was flushing. My palms were sweating. I sat rooted in my seat, unable to move. He called my name yet again and told me to come to the front of the classroom NOW.
I felt that familiar drop in my tummy, that feeling of nausea. I tried to make my way to the front of the classroom, but my legs were like jelly, and I was aware that I was shaking. I stood there awkwardly, trying to find the passage in the book that I was meant to read.
I could sense the classroom was getting bored waiting for me to begin. I knew my face was bright red, as usual. Could they see me sweating? And then I started to read. My voice was shaking, I stumbled over my words and could hear the other children laugh at me.
I tried again but I couldn’t make out the words on the page. It was like they were all moving about and all I could focus on was the sniggering from the classroom. My teacher told me to start again. And again. And again. And again. I couldn’t do it. I asked to be excused to go to the toilet and ran out of the classroom before he had time to respond.
That was when I had my first panic attack.
I vowed I would never speak up again.
But as I grew up and left school, I started to get curious. A friend had asked me to travel on the train with her to London as she had arranged to have an interview with a job agency. I had never been to London before, even though it was only a 30 minute journey. I was petrified but she assured me I would be fine. We got to the agency and I was handed a clipboard and told to complete my details. We were both then sent to one of the big banks in the City and I landed my first job. Yikes!
I had planned on being a typist in my Dads company, this wasn’t my dream!
Slowly and surely, I was able to start building up my confidence. I took baby steps, often going backwards as well as forwards. With each promotion, I was able to start believing in myself. Realising that I was far more capable than I thought I was. As I was coaching my staff, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one that was often struggling.
Deadlines were often getting missed due to procrastination, overwhelm, perfectionism, the need for control and the fear of failure. I worked in many European cities as well as the United States, and I noticed this same pattern everywhere. So what did I need to do to get my teams to be the best version of themselves, therefore increasing productivity without increasing costs. What I didn’t realise at the time was that by helping my teams, I was actually helping myself too.
To get to where we need to be, we need to know where we are right now. Life can be a bit like a satnav when we are driving. If we enter the destination and don’t know where we are right now, we wont know which direction to start heading in.
So ask yourself the following questions:
What Am I Passionate About?
What really lights you up? What are you often doing when time flies by because you are enjoying yourself? What did you like to do when you were a child? What would you want to be doing if you had more free time?
What Are My Core Values?
By this I mean what is really important to you. It may be honesty, kindness, love, fun, family, career ….. anything you want it to be because they are your own values!
Many of us may struggle with finding direction, making big decisions, and even knowing how to act in day-to-day situations. When you take the time to consider your core values, these things become much clearer.
It is like having a compass in your pocket at all times as they shine a light on the path to your life where you will thrive. Your core values will provide the foundations k for your actions, decisions, and behaviours.
When what you value the most is congruent with what you do, you are standing in your integrity.
What Are My Core Beliefs?
Meaning what do you believe to be true? Our core beliefs are our most deeply held assumptions about ourselves, the world, and others. They are integral to the way we think and talk to ourselves, significantly shaping our reality and behaviours. What we tell ourselves can hold us back in life and limit what we believe we can do. Our beliefs create our negative thoughts about ourselves and others.
However, we often get these beliefs in childhood, and carry them with us for the duration of our adult lives. They may come from an experience we once had, or even from other people, but we take them to be truths. They are self-perpetuating and like magnets, we look for evidence that they are true which makes them even stronger and stops us from challenging them.
But it is possible to change them once we become aware of them.
If you are struggling to identify yours, tune into the voice in your head and notice what you are telling yourself.
Are They Serving My Vision Of My Future Life?
Do you want to keep these beliefs or change them? What would the opposite of that belief be? What needs to happen to challenge that belief?
Having A Helicopter View
It may also be helpful to look at your life from a “helicopter view.” The Wheel of Life template will help you to do this as it is a way of representing your entire life. You may wish to change the headings, and that is fine. There is no right or wrong way to complete this. The purpose is solely to give you an indication of how satisfied you are in your life right now.
Map where you currently are in each of the areas on the chart, with 1 being really not great, and 10 being living the life where you thrive. Here is an example of how to complete it, of course, yours may look very different to this.
Notice how your life is looking. How do you feel about it? What needs to happen for your Wheel to reflect what is important in your life?
So now we know where we are, how can we live a life where we thrive?
We need to be curious. It is often hard to imagine ourselves being too different to the way we behave today. However, we have all evolved incredibly since being born. But because everyone else is growing up around us, we forget to celebrate how well we learn and transition through everyday situations.
So to help you dream big, who do you know, either in person or a celebrity, who you admire and is living the life you want.
What traits do you think they needed to get there?
How do they walk, and talk?
How do they think?
How do they behave in their businesses and careers?
How do they behave within their relationship?
If you were able to meet them for a conversation, what would they tell you?
I am not suggesting you try and be someone you are not, you need to remain authentic to your true self, however maybe you can take on and adopt some of their traits that will help you live a life where you thrive.
And the beauty is that you don’t need to find all the traits in the same person! Its like a mix and match of who you want to become.
Now in case anyone is thinking what a load of rubbish, have a think about how you have become the person you are today? You will have mirrored your parents' behaviour, your peers, perhaps your teacher and professors, maybe your colleagues, and possibly your partners.
Visualise Your Dream
So I would like to invite you to do a visualisation exercise with me. Take a minute to get comfortable in your chair and take three deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Close your eyes
I want you to imagine your dream life in 10 years time. Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? What can you see around you? What can you hear around you? How do you feel? Are you feeling motivated? Are you living comfortably financially? Are you happy with your friendship group? Are you feeling fit and healthy? What is putting a smile on your face? What is important to you right now?
And when you have finished, try putting pen to paper and capture the life you imagined and the feelings you have associated with it. You can add to your dreams whenever you want. Look at it frequently to remind you of where you are going
Ask yourself the following questions:
What do I need to do to live my dream life?
Who do I need to be to live my dream life?
Who can I ask for help to enable me to live my dream life?
According to Aristotle, courage is the number 1 virtue that we need to possess because it makes everything we want to be possible.
Living courageously and getting out of your comfort zone is the fastest and most direct path to reaching your full potential.
So, now that you have recognised your limiting beliefs, you might tell yourself that you are no good at something. In my case, it was public speaking. But this belief was based on the one experience I had at school. I let this define me, I labelled myself in this way and I never spoke up again until I was in my 50s. I spent my entire corporate career over, 30 years, avoiding hosting any presentations or standing up speaking. I didn’t have any belief in myself.
I was coaching my clients to get over their fears, but I was not addressing my own. So I signed up to a speaker school. I broke down the tasks into tiny steps. Researching, then making the phone call, then turning up. I had already overcome my fear of walking into a room full of strangers so instead of panicking about what was ahead, I kept reminding myself how far I had come with my anxiety.
When it came to speaking up, I was stuck. I couldn’t get the words out initially, but I was persistent. I practised and practised until it became natural. I have now won 2 awards for public speaking and I really enjoy spreading my message!
If you are facing a challenge right now, or avoiding doing something, acknowledge the fear.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What is it trying to protect you from?
If it is failure, what evidence have you got to support the fear?
What evidence have you got to contradict it?
In my case, I could obviously speak. I was fine in my own circles where I felt safe and secure. I could also talk in a board room when sitting down. I needed to confront my fear and I recognised that standing up and speaking was the challenge by doing my research and making a phone call.
Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor was key to my success, I knew I was giving myself the best chance of becoming a professional speaker. I was able to put my faith into someone that believed in me more than I believed in myself.
Use Positive Selftalk
On the first day of the Speaking School Masterclass, I used positive self talk to remind myself of all the challenges I had already overcome. Why did this challenge need to be any different? The truth is, it didn’t.
There Is No Such Thing As Failure, Only Results and Feedback
I knew I didn’t need to be perfect. I had set myself this challenge because I wanted to face my fear. I had to embrace failure, knowing each time I messed up I was learning and growing. I became comfortable with being uncomfortable. It wasn’t easy at first, but then I realised that I was OK, in fact I was actually enjoying myself!
Set time aside to make your dreams become a reality. If we don’t schedule the time, then your dreams will only be a wish. We need to do whatever it takes to keep ourselves motivated. I created a vision board, and it had pictures of women speaking to large audiences. I visualised myself being a professional speaker every day and I read positive affirmations daily. I was totally committed to proving to myself that I was not the person I had labelled myself as.
What Do You Value?
I value my time and my freedom, and it is important for me to know I use my time wisely.
My mentorship programme was a year long. I had invested a lot of time into the programme and knew my commitment had to be high. It was not an option for me to waste the time I had invested.
Know Your Why
I kept reminding myself why I wanted to do this. I could serve my clients better and prove to myself that I was capable. I would be able to reach more people with my message if I was able to be a professional speaker.
By knowing why I was doing this, I was able to motivate myself with my desire to serve others.
If you find yourself losing the commitment, ask yourself why? If you are afraid, think back to how far you have already come on your journey. What is the next small step you can take to keep moving along your path?
Schedule time in your diary each day or week to focus on what it is you want to achieve. After all, failing to plan is planning to fail!
Talk about what you are doing. Even better if you can find an accountability partner or community to ensure you are staying on the right path with your commitment. I have a fantastic community at the speaking school. We were all able to encourage each other and elevate our commitment.
If you find yourself losing the commitment or avoiding something, ask yourself why? If you are afraid, think back to how far you have already come on your journey. What is the next small step you can take to keep moving along your path? Don’t beat yourself up with should haves and could haves. Notice the messages you are telling yourself and be kind.
Write A Letter
Self-compassion involves treating yourself the way you would treat a great friend. If your friend was struggling with something, I imagine you would try and build them back up if they were to put themselves down. We need to do this to ourselves too.
So try writing a letter to yourself, imagining that your great friend is in a similar situation to you. What would you say to that friend? Alternatively, what would they want to tell you?
People who are more self-compassionate towards themselves often have increased happiness, more life satisfaction and motivation. Their relationships often improve, along with their physical and mental health. They also have the resilience needed to cope with stressful life events.
If we change the way we look at our challenges, then we will change the outcome too.
When we are mindful of our struggles, and respond to ourselves with compassion and kindness, we learn how to embrace ourselves and our lives. We don’t require perfectionism from ourselves and we gain the strength needed to thrive.
Meditation for Loving Kindness
There are lots of free apps that offer meditation. A loving kindness practice opens the heart and mind towards a greater sense of compassion.
If you are unfamiliar with this practice, take a moment to be calm and take some deep breaths. Notice how you are feeling in your heart right now.
You may want to close your eyes as you think about someone you love or hold dear. This could be a good friend, a partner, perhaps an animal. Imagine them sitting in front of you and looking into your eyes. As you imagine yourself looking back into their eyes, say with intention “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe and protected from harm.”
Continue breathing in and out and connecting with your heart. Now think about yourself and imagine your own eyes looking back at you. Say with intention “May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be safe and protected from harm.”
Next, consider a person in your life you don’t know too well. Perhaps they are someone who works in a store that you often use or a colleague you’ve never spoken to.
While imagining that person, repeat the phrase “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe and protected from harm.”
Now bring to mind someone who may have upset you or frustrated you in the past. With the same intention and heartfulness as you had for the person you love, repeat “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe and protected from harm.”
Imagine expanding this same heartfulness to everyone in your street where you live, your town, your city, your country and the rest of the world.
Repeat “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe and protected from harm.”
Now notice how you are feeling?
We are so busy being busy that we often forget to celebrate our achievements, but taking the time to recognise them allows you the opportunity to pinpoint exactly what worked so that you can repeat it in the future.
Taking pride in your successes by celebrating them can also boost your self-confidence and courage, and motivate you to achieve more. Not only that, the positive emotions you experience when celebrating are highly infectious and permit others to do the same themselves.
Celebrate every milestone by recognising and reflecting on how much you have achieved.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What did I enjoy most?
What did I do well?
What strengths did I use?
What skills did I gain?
What do I feel most confident about?
How did I overcome obstacles along the way?
What would I change for next time?
Answering questions like these gives you invaluable insight into who you are, what your strengths are, and how to use those strengths to secure future successes.
I’d like you to take some time to think about how you will celebrate, and reflect on how far you have come.
And then I would like you to go back to the beginning and dream bigger!
So, ask yourself the following questions
What Am I Passionate About Now?
What Are My Core Values Now?
What Are My Core Beliefs Now?
Are They Still Serving My Vision Of My Future Life?
Revisit your Wheel of Life and notice how it is different?
How Do I See My Dream Life Now?
What Traits Do You Think You Need To Get There?
Visualise Your Dream
And you already know what to do next!!
Now you know how to live your dream life where you are free to thrive.
I believe in you. You’ve got this!