On occasion, we all tend to come up with great ideas that sound amazing in our heads. They're ideas that excite us and make us want to stop what we're doing and begin working on it as soon as possible. But then that little nagging voice pops into our heads. You know which voice I'm talking about - the one that starts giving us all the reasons in the world as to why we shouldn't tackle that idea.
Let me know if that describes you; I know it describes me perfectly.
I can't mention how many times I've come up with something that I want to do, but start thinking about all the other things that are happening in my life. I think about my responsibilities, so I'll believe that I won't ever have enough time to work on the idea. Or when I consider how much money I would invest, I conclude that I don't want to spend any disposable income on this. I even think about where I'll be working on my idea - my apartment has too many distractions, my co-working space doesn't have all the things I need, and so on.
These are all valid concerns to have. There are occasions when you genuinely don't have a minute to spare, or money to spend, or the space needed to make your idea come to life. But be 100% honest with yourself - are the things you perceive as problems really a problem? Do you honestly not have any moments to spare, or are there times during the day that you can minimize like watching TV or playing video games? Is all your money accounted for, or are there non-essentials that you can cut back on? And is your apartment too distracting, or are you too quick to label it that way?
You're not the only one
More often than not, a lot of these problems are self-inflicted problems. You tell yourself so often that you have a problem that you don't even bother to look for a solution. Most issues have a solution if you spend the time to find a way around it.
One tactic I recommend is to find others who are in the same boat as you are. If you spend enough time looking for others who are dealing with similar issues than you - whether it be lack of time, funds, or anything else - you'll find someone who succeeded in spite of their perceived problems. There's always someone who will have gone through what you're going through now.
As an example, my main issue for never completing projects in the past is that I never thought I had enough time for anything. Between getting enough sleep, having a full-time job, doing chores around the house and spending as much time as I could with my wife, I always thought that I would never have time to do anything on the side. So I always let my ideas sit untouched or slip away.
After a few moments of frustration over this, I began paying closer attention to what others were doing to deal with my issue. I started to read interviews with people who were doing the same things that I wanted to do. There were plenty of people who had a lot of free time, like self-employed workers who could set their schedule, or students who only had a handful of classes.
But I kept on noticing one thing - most of the people who were doing the same thing that I wanted to do not only had similar responsibilities than I do, but they had much more!
Seeing that truly surprised me. How could a father of four manage to have a business on the side? How could someone have built and sustained a project while going to university on a full schedule and working to cover their tuition at the same time? Here I was, thinking I could never build upon my ideas, yet there were plenty of others with much less time than me doing it.
That made me realize that I was thinking I didn't have any time, but when I took a good, hard look at my day-to-day life, I noticed a lot of areas where I could put my time to better use. However, the moral of my story is not that we can overcome our obstacles. The actual realization I came to is that I had put the idea of lacking time in my head because I was scared.
Don't blame your circumstances, blame your fear
We often tend to lay the blame on any number of circumstances around us. In these cases, you blame your lack of time, money, or space for not setting out on building the life of your dreams. But deep down inside, there's an excellent chance that the real issue is that you have a lot of fear. That fear is what should take the blame, not what's happening around you.
There are a few common fears that prevent you from taking steps towards your ambitions and desires:
- Fear of what others will think of you: You might be afraid of what others will think of your decision to pursue a goal. You'll feel people will think you're crazy because you won't be able to tackle your goal, or people will make fun of you for choosing such a purpose. These thoughts can quickly stop you from taking on something new.
- Fear of failing: No one wants to fail at something after working hard. Not only will you have wasted time and money, you think you'll have nothing to show for it, leading you not even to begin what you want to do.
- Fear of what others will think of you if you fail: This is a combination of the previous two fears, but it's a separate issue. Not only do we not want to fail, but we also don't want others to think that we're failures, making this a double-whammy that can paralyze anyone.
You might not be actively thinking to yourself "I don't want to do this because my family will make fun of me / I don't want to fail / I don't want my friends to think I'm a loser. But those thoughts can easily be disguised as an excuse, buried deep down in your mind without you noticing it. It's dangerous if kept inside you for a long time.
If you do notice one of these fears, here are two secrets for you: you'll be able to recover from failure, and no one cares about what you do as long as it doesn't directly affect them.
There's nothing to fear but fear itself
If you're afraid that you'll fail at something, why is that? There are very few failures where recovery is impossible. If you set out to learn something and fail to do it, you won't be in a spot where you can't study something different. If you build a business and don't succeed, you'll lose money, but unless you didn't pay attention racked up massive amounts of debt, you'd be able to regroup and try again in the future if you want to. Sure, it might set you back, but you can get back to where you were eventually.
The same goes for caring about what others think of you. As I mentioned, people will not pay much attention to any new endeavor you take. Your close family and friends will care, but unless you're doing something risky that will directly affect them, like your wife worrying you'll lose all your savings, what you do won't bother them.
That said, there may be some people who will initially react less than favorably in the beginning. If you're concerned about this, know that it will only be an initial reaction, so you shouldn't let it prevent you from taking action. If you want to become an entrepreneur and you're scared that your family will be upset, they will get over it. If you're interested in dancing classes but think your friends will laugh at you for choosing to spend your time on that, they probably are reflecting their fears of not doing something they're interested in themselves.
In most cases, whatever you do, the people who matter the most in your life will support you or come around if they're not on board with your decisions immediately.
Small steps for your Practical Good
If there's something you've wanted to accomplish but can't seem to get yourself moving because your head prevents you from doing so, ask yourself the following questions to make your reasons clear:
- If you think you don't have time or money, can you think of ways to get more of either/both? Often, when we have these kinds of thoughts, we believe them and don't search for ways around those issues. Instead of letting these problems stop you, think about how you can solve them. It can be either finding ways to get more money or time (like a better paying job, selling unused items, deferring tasks to others) or being creative in getting the most out of what you already have (like not spending money on non-essentials or stop watching TV).
- Are your thoughts excuses covering your fear of failure or fear of being made fun of? Imagine that you have unlimited money and all the time in the world to do the thing you want to do - If you strip away all other reasons for not starting something, what comes up to the surface? There might be some hidden fears underneath it all. It's okay to have these - only then will you know what you're dealing with and can put a plan in place to take it down.