You’ve got goals and ambitions. You’re ready to set sail into the sunset and live out those dreams. But before you cast off, here are a few common pitfalls that some fall prey to along their journey. Learning and becoming aware of these potential mishaps early will help you to either avoid or strengthen yourself. Here are some to get started on right away.
Not knowing your strengths.
Knowing not only your strengths but also your accomplishments is a great way to jumpstart your pursuit. Knowing what you’re good at and using those things to create progress will give you the energy and inertia you need to continue forward motion. If you are unsure of what your strengths are, there are a couple things you can do. 1. Review your past accomplishments. Ask yourself why and how you were able to accomplish those things. Thats generally a good indication of what are you are good at. 2. Personally tests. I love these. Maybe too much, but either way, somebody has done the work of creating questions that will reveal your common character attributes and how you respond to certain situations. This can also help with the next point.
Not knowing your weaknesses.
Yes. Your weaknesses can absolutely be a pitfall. Not knowing how you respond in certain situations or your skill level, or even your lack of desire for something, can cause your pursuit to come to a screeching halt. A weakness of mine, is that I easily get inspired by others who are pursuing their dreams. It sounds like a good thing buuuuutttt, basically what happens is I see somebody do something great and am immediately inspired to action for myself, but I have my own things I am already working on and it tends to distract me from staying on task. It is not uncommon for our strength to also be our weakness. So don’t rule that out in your assessment. My best friend likes to also discuss weaknesses as things that make you die a little on the inside when you have to do them. For her, it’s taxes and finances for her business. She would encourage you to outsource those things if you can. That way you can invest your energy in the things that you are great at. Then there are also weaknesses that are absolute career stallers that you may actually need to work on improving. Example: maybe you are wanting to be a fitness coach, but you hate people. That might get in the way of you being successful and people wanting you to guide them. So you invest in ways to overcome, but learning to appreciate people for specific reasons and it helps you see them in a more positive light.
Thinking you don’t have the right resources.
Not getting started on pursuing your passions because you don’t have the right resources such as funds or skill is a very easy way to quit before you even get started. Recently I went to the Museum of Natural History in NYC. As you walk through early civilization and see the tools that were created and used, people found ways to make due with what they had. Sticks turned into spears, spears into swords, swords into bullets, etc. Could you imagine if the first prehistoric families just said, “meh, I don’t have the right resources to take out that animal for my food source. I give up”? No way. Often resources are created out of necessity. There’s a need, gap or opportunity. We are the most intelligent and innovative life form. We didn’t begin at the Iron Age. We worked our way there. Progress had to be made. It’s the same with getting started with your passions. You want to be the best guitar player in the world? Guess what, you do not need a Taylor or a Les Paul to do so. You can find a cheap no name guitar at a pawn shop for $20 and get started. We naturally put unrealistic expectations on ourselves that quickly dissuade us from going after what we set out to do.
Not knowing others who have done what you want to do.
This can be a tough one. How do we do something if there is no one around to tell us how to do it? How do we know if we are doing it wrong or doing it right? It’s hard to tell. The good news is, there’s plenty of people out there who are willing to help. It’s a matter of getting connected. The true solution: Ask for help. The internet is a wonderful thing. And nowadays, there’s a whole focus on the importance of building a platform and people willing to show you how to do it. Meaning, there are people out there who understand the value of helping others and understand that is how they will continue to move along as well. So if you want to be a writer and don’t know any writers, pick out your favorites, shoot them an email. Lots of masters in the field hold “webinars” because thats the hot thing to do right now. There are ways to get connected and learn from others. Don’t set limits on yourself. Ask.
Allowing your message to be convoluted.
I have a coupe friends who are idea machines. They want to do so much and have incredible ideas. They often are frustrated with themselves because they don’t know where or how to get started. They see this picture in their head of this thing and it continues to evolve until they have gone down some other rabbit hole and then they completely lost touch of what it was they were originally on track to do. This happens to a lot of us. Simplifying our message or even our plan of action is imperative. Guess what, nobody else will be on board if they can’t follow you. Not physically, but mentally. People will grow weary in chasing you down your rabbit holes. There are different techniques to remain focused. Just yesterday, I reviewed my passion planner that I began using in the beginning of January. I reviewed the entire month of January and compared it with my original goals I set for the year. Wow, I was way off. By the end of January I had gone down a rabbit hole myself and completely lost focused of my internal message. After reviewing my original plan, it put me back on course and I feel confident that I will learn from it and stay the course during the month of February. So if you are an idea machine or you get distracted, or you’re a normal human who doesn’t think in very simplistic terms, challenge yourself to simplify your message into 2-3 sentences and review it regularly. Not just quarterly, but monthly and weekly. Keep it simple.
Not saying no or becoming distracted.
Similar to the above and becoming convoluted, getting distracted by not saying no to things that take away from your message or your original plan of pursuit is something to be aware of. These are the moments that it is our responsibility to remain in control of what we originally set out to do. When people see you doing things, they will naturally reach out to either learn of what you are doing or to share their own ideas. These are the times where I tend to get pulled off course. Out of good nature, I want to help. Which then lends to over-extending myself and losing track of my own goals. I’ve talked about this many times before, have an anchor. Keep it top of mind. If your opportunities don’t align with your anchor, it’s time to say no.
Convincing yourself it’s pointless.
Or even, “Somebody else will do it.” Noooooooo. What if Martin Luther King Jr. thought that way? Or Steve Jobs or Abraham Lincoln. We each carry a gift to give to the world. I’m convinced of it. Some of us finish our lives without ever sharing it. We wait for others to step in or convince ourself it’s not worth the effort or the battle. But there is always purpose. I promise you. What we do has as much weight as we are willing to assign it. My best friend is a Wedding Photographer. She is incredible at her craft. She recently had an opportunity to photograph an infant who was very ill; who may not live very long. She used her craft to do a photoshoot of this child so that the parents would have something to remember, had the baby not made it. She gave them a gift. It also brought fulfillment to her. Had she given up her craft when it became difficult and assumed there are plenty of other photographers out there, that moment, that opportunity may not have existed. For either of them. Opportunities present themselves. We assign the depth of meaning.
Lack of self discipline.
This is probably the number 1 dream killer. And really, if we are honest, if pursuing our dreams was easy, everybody would do it. The pursuit takes dedication, constant focus and re-alignment and a ton of self discipline. I believe if you can get in control of yourself; your thoughts, your habits, your actions, your words, you are capable of doing anything. ANYTHING. In America, we don’t have a lot of it. Many of us are used to getting what we want without having to work too hard. And because of this, there is a glass ceiling that many of us don’t even have a desire to attempt to break through. We are comfortable. Why try harder when I drive a nice car already or have all the latest gadgets on credit? Why go on a diet and exercise when I can just have a surgery that forces me to lose the weight? We are a culture of finding the easy way out. But that is not what got us to where we are. That is not the type of thinking that advances the world or a people. And it sure isn’t the type that brings deep fulfillment. Playing it safe rarely accomplished anything of real importance. And so why should you? You have one life to live. One life to do it the way you want. One life to bring your gift to the world. So what are you doing right now, consistently and in the face of adversity, to be able to present it to us? What disciplined steps can you take right now to make forward progress?
Go do it.