I’m sure you have big dreams. We all do. However sometimes those aspirations feel beyond our reach or too far into the future to seem real to us right now.
And truth be told? Most of us are scared of achieving them.
It’s called the fear of success, and it sounds completely and utterly ridiculous. Why would you fear getting the thing you want most?
I’ll tell you why:
You’re afraid you can’t actually handle it. You won’t be able to keep up. People will judge your motives or abilities. What you fantasize about isn’t all
Honestly, if you were to get EVERYTHING you ever wanted RIGHT NOW you might actually be miserable because you’re not yet the person you need to be to fill that role in your life.
The you of today can’t possibly have the wisdom and experience to be the you of the future AND THAT’S OK.
The problem comes when we self-sabotage or make our dreams smaller so that we feel safe. The problem is when we don’t realize that the gap between who we are now and who we need to be, no matter how large that gap may be, is filled with many smaller steps.
Some steps are easy and some are hard, but all of them are a lot more manageable than the huge void we tend to see between us and our dreams.
How do you know when you’re ready for the next step?
I don’t believe you are ever ready. If you’re waiting to be ready to level up your life, you’ll be waiting a long time.
“Leap and the net shall appear.”
Yeah, maybe… but you also might get banged up by the rocks on the way down. The reason taking that next step can be so terrifying is that you likely WILL fall down a few times.
It’s hard to go from being good at your current level to ‘failing’ at the next one.
Taking the First Step
The first step might not always look like a step. It tends to be more foundational.
Think of an infant learning to walk. They generally start out lying on their backs, eventually finding the strength and momentum to ROLL THEMSELVES OVER.
Just for a second, imagine how difficult that must be for those little muscles that have absolutely no strength buildup or muscle memory. Think of how many times a child must attempt the movement – probably without anyone knowing what they were doing – before they eventually manage the flip.
The loss of control when they get past the halfway mark for the first time and start plummeting back down to the ground face first would probably feel terrifying to many of us #controlfreak adults. Of course, we know what’s coming when we roll ourselves over now, but it wasn’t always that way.
We used to be so brave.
The Hardest Part
Next for the little one comes the step of pushing their torso up enough with their arms that they can lift their heads from the floor. Have you ever seen a baby push-up? It’s all shaky arms and lots of face-plants on the ground until they master the move.
And I’m sorry, but no matter how many play mats or blankets they are on, after a while it’s got to hurt to repeatedly smash your face off the floor day after day.
Sometimes they give up for a couple of days or even a
Do they give up completely? Do they think ‘this is too hard’ or ‘I’m not capable’ or ‘moving with my own free will is overrated anyway’?
No. Again and again, they smash their little faces and their disproportionately-large-to-their-body heads off the ground because they are willing to endure the pain. I mean, who does that?!
We did. At one point, we hadn’t yet learned the lesson that repeated failure is cause for embarrassment and shame. That there was another option: to give up on our dreams and stay where we are because it’s #easier.
So, now the baby is able to hold their head off the ground. It’s still a little shaky and sometimes their arms give out, but it’s time for the next move. The crawl.
This move isn’t as much a test of strength as it is a feat of coordination. Which of course, for a baby, is a whole new world. Figuring out which limbs to move together, in which direction, at which time… it’s hard to imagine how incredibly complicated that would seem. Daunting. Overwhelming.
Many infants start out crawling backwards. They see where they want to go and keep getting further away, but it doesn’t stop them.
Actually, some of these little guys and gals actually discover that if they turn their head to the side, they can navigate themselves exactly where they want to go in reverse. Others, unable to accomplish the hand-knee coordination, will army crawl to their destination. It might not be the fastest or the easiest way to get there, but it works.
It’s still hard, but the progress and freedom feels so good.
Some kids are content to stay crawling for a really long time. I mean, if it gets you where you want to go, why not stick with what’s working?
Eventually though, something pushes them into the next step – standing and walking.
Maybe it’s a toy on the coffee table that is desirable enough to to go for it. Perhaps the child is the last crawler in the play group and is inspired by his or her peers.
Whatever the reason, eventually the baby decides it’s time to pull themselves up to standing position. And often times, it’s not that hard to go from crawling to standing. That’s not to say it’s smooth sailing from here. New skills include balancing on two legs, and eventually taking those sweet sweet first steps.
Yet after all that practice, it can actually come pretty easily. Months of trying to accomplish something new (including repeated failure) and building their strength has prepared the child for this next big step.
Best of all, being on two feet comes with a completely new view of the world.
The Final Step?
Is taking a step the last part of the ‘learning to walk’ journey for a child? Of course not. It’s that destination that they have been aiming for and that they are cheered on about, but there are so many things to learn after everyone says they’ve ‘made it’.
They’ll learn to run, slow down on uneven ground so they don’t trip, watch out for the stairs.
There is no end to the journey.
Support and Judegement
Little do these little ones know they are being judged and compared to their peers and siblings. They are being measured against developmental milestones charts to see if they are ‘ahead’ or ‘behind’ their peers.
Honestly, I think one of the biggest perks of being so young – one of the reasons that eventually everyone figures out how to get themselves from one side of the room to the other – is that they don’t know they are being judged.
Some kids walk before they crawl. Some have siblings they are trying to keep up with, or relatives that give them lots of practice with the whole stand-up-and-walk-while-you-hold-my-hands thing. But no matter which order they learn or how much help they get or how long it takes them to figure it out, they all have to eventually learn how to pull themselves up or crawl.
By the way, it’s OK to accept help. There is no award given out to babies who learned to walk without help from their parents. Allowing or asking for assistance doesn’t take anything away from the win.
As adults, we’re acutely aware of where we stack up compared to our peers and siblings. We judge our self-worth and potential on past performance, accomplishments and how much we earn.
The thing is, developmental milestone charts are meant to track the societal average. What it doesn’t account for is that you don’t have to play in the same ballpark as average.
You can choose to create your own journey where the pace at which you make progress is completely and totally up to you without the ideas of right or wrong or good or bad tied to it.
Are You Ready for Your Next Step?
I’m not actually telling you it’s time to take that next step. Contrary to most entrepreneurial cheerleading and professional development content, I don’t think that now has to be your time to leap.
You might still be learning the step you are on, or you could be like one of those babies who learned to walk before they crawled meaning you might have to go back and build up your foundational skill gaps.
Yet if you’ve gotten pretty good at what you do, you might be subconsciously sabotaging your goals because you’re scared you won’t be good enough to reach them.
Remember that who you are now and what you’ve done in the past is not an accurate indicator of what you can accomplish in the future. Your possibilities are infinite.
What’s been holding you back and what step are you on in your journey to your big dream right now? Let me know in the comments.