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Dreams: what is really holding you back?

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If you are anything like me, there’s a list of excuses holding you back from building your dreams:

  • when I have more time,
  • if I had more money,
  • as soon as I finish.

For those of us that said that we needed more time at home, 2020 has provided many of us with a lot more time at home. Now we get to find out that this wasn’t holding us back!

Perhaps you said you needed more time with your kids to build stronger relationships. I don’t know how it’s working out for you, but my experience is that I am finding out just how little patience I have for teaching a six-year-old how to write, do her social studies and mathematics lessons!

Today, I am avoiding her play area, because I cannot bear to see the mess it is in. I am restricting myself to cleaning Friday, Saturday and Sunday: otherwise, I will use cleaning as my excuse for not getting things done in my business. Things that make me uncomfortable.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”

What is holding you back from following your dreams?

Perhaps you are held back by your lack of curiosity. Many of us hold our dreams at bay, sticking with the status quo. But let’s be honest: the status quo has been majorly disrupted! I don’t ever see it coming back! Are you curious about what you could create in the void? How open are you to exploring new ideas and perspectives in the changing world?

Do you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve this year? I know – 2020 is disrupted! So, maybe you revisit your plans: keeping the end in mind, what do you need to do now to achieve it?

Are you willing to fail trying something new when everything is up in the air? What if you create a website while you are stuck at home and no one finds it because you haven’t learnt how to use SEO? Is that really failure? How much of your time and energy are you willing to invest in learning a new skill?

You procrastinate. We all do it. I procrastinate cleaning the house. What’s your favourite excuse? The reality is that we do something else (within our comfort zone), instead of creating and manifesting our goals and dreams.

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I use the word “manifesting” widely: not in the sense of sitting and holding an intention and visualization, but in the sense of seeing it, creating a plan, and then executing the plan! Manifestation requires action, however small. To use an example from gardening: it’s the sowing we do in order to reap the harvest. The whole process begins with seeing the crop, but then we go and we get the seeds, we prepare the soil and we plant.

Obviously, once we’ve sowed, we may have smaller tasks to complete: watering, weeding and making sure that there are no slugs eating our crops. Some crops require more effort and attention than others. Some dreams & plans do too.

Then, we wait. We trust that what we’ve planted will grow and that there will be a harvest.

Are you letting your doubts get the better of you?

Unfortunately, if you harbour doubts about whether your dreams are feasible, you are unlikely to succeed.

In fact, I’ll bet you don’t even start!

100% chance of failure when you fail to start! Your actions, and lack of action, impacts your results.

Suzy Kassem
“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.”

Do you even believe you could be that person that achieves greatness?

Or do you spend your time catastrophizing and awfulizing?

At a time like this, I understand the urge to make mountains out of molehills! The world appears to be upside down. People are panicking. Are you buying into their fear and doubts? Do you allow that to feed your fears?

Our minds are brilliantly creative: designed to make up stories. That same creativity can get out of hand, with imaginations running wild.

When you invest your time and energy feeding your doubts and fears, you will convince yourself not to even bother. I have a friend that regularly wants to come over and tell me about their problems. They have an amazing capacity to create obstacles and challenges that don’t even exist yet! Unfortunately, when I ask them to turn that creativity into looking for solutions for the actual challenges before them, they shy away. They allow their doubts to create imaginary obstacles in the future, that they fail to face the smaller challenges they actually have before them in the moment.

It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: “This will never work out“.

When you doubt in your heart:

What do you want? Today, for this month and this year?

Can you trust your heart to listen to what it wants and desires? Are your dreams formed in your head “this would be a good idea” or does the seed begin in your heart: I dream of being happy, free, bold and fulfilled.

Vincent van Gogh
“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”

Many of us second-guess our desires because we choose to “think it through”. Unfortunately, this often means that we tell ourselves “no” before we’ve even studied possibilities with curiosity.

Dreams: I shouldn’t want this, because it’s unrealistic

How many times have you abandoned a dream, without taking a single step? Perhaps you heard your mum or dad’s voice in your head “be reasonable” or “you can’t always have what you want”. Whose voice do you hear?  Does this person get to decide what you “should” or “shouldn’t” dream of doing or becoming?

Consider for a moment your inner dialogue and what it tells you about who you are and who you should be.

Sven Goran Eriksson
“To wish you were someone else is to waste the person you are.”

It’s easy to should yourself into oblivion.

Telling yourself “no” stops you from being curious and looking into it. Perhaps the first idea you have is a bad idea, but that doesn’t mean that the dream should be forgotten. Most of us want to start at “amazing” and “awesome”, forgetting that we are beginners when we start anything new.

Perhaps what you should do is expect to make mistakes at the beginning.

Doubts for your safety and security

I don’t know about you, but I regularly avoid failure. If I’m honest, I’ve sat on a draft of this blog post for over two and a half weeks! It was hitting too close to home.

When something takes me outside of my comfort zone, into a place where I might make a mistake, my natural instinct is to preserve the safety of the status quo. It doesn’t matter than I know (head knowledge) that endless procrastination inevitably leads to failure and defeat. I defeated myself because I didn’t put in the effort.

What safety and security are you craving at the moment that is keeping you paralysed? Stop looking down and start to look up, with a wider and bigger perspective. If you are physically safe at the moment, what more could you be doing if you invested your energy in your dreams instead of your doubts?

“The gap between what we do and what we’re capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”

At the very first sign of any problem, we quit. Of course, perhaps that’s the moment to roll up our sleeves and show what we are truly capable of.

“No” rarely means “impossible”

When we drum up a little more courage, we realise that “no” simply means “harder”. There are obstacles and challenges. But tell me a time in your life when there were no obstacles and challenges. Can you think of a single period of your life when you weren’t forced to step up and into becoming something more?

At this moment, we are all being asked to step up and out of our comfort zones. The stakes are higher, the challenges are bigger. Your dreams are just as important now as they ever were!

The challenge I put to you today is what would change for your life, your family and loved ones if you dared to step past your doubts and into what you are capable of?


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Security and safety: change is a daring adventure

Helen Keller
“Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

Is our need to stay in the security of our comfort zone overrated? We know that change is constant and inevitable, yet most of us resist change. We even resist the change that is for our good.

When things are bad, we are quick to accept that things are continually changing and will get better. Nonetheless, when things are going well, we try to convince ourselves that things will stay as they are. Even so, change happens, whether we like it or not.

It can be unrelenting: changes in the economy, life marches on, relationships in flux as people grow and move on.

“Change is the only constant in life.”

We can choose to approach it with mindfulness. How do I feel about these changes? What emotions am I experiencing about this situation or my future? This awareness needs to even extend to feelings that we may have about the past.

I want life to change, but I don’t want to change!

who wants change, who wants to change, who wants to lead the change

I recently heard Michael Beckwith say something along the lines of people always want life and their situation to change, but they are not willing to change! It reminds me of the comic that we have all seen:

Most of us want to see environmental changes, but how many of us are willing to make personal sacrifices and lifestyle changes that will have an impact? Many of us talk about political reforms and then choose policies that favour us, rather than voting in favour of the greater good.

Even in relationships, we want the relationship to improve. But are we willing to improve our communication, our listening and our empathy in the relationship? Are we willing to admit that we are 100% responsible for the current state of the relationship? The relationship that we have is simply a reflection of how we have expressed ourselves so far with this other person.

In very much the same way, we want our business and sales to improve in a company, and yet we look for “innovative ways” to continue doing what we have done for the past twenty years. We like the security of our comfort zone, rather than genuinely disrupting the way we’ve always done things.

Sometimes the changing times requires that we change our actions, responses and even thought processes.

The paradox that we face is this: we are always changing and yet never change. Think of how many times you have promised yourself that you will change. Then you didn’t. You started a new routine for two or three weeks and then fell back into your old routine and habits.

Nonetheless, if you look at who you are today and who you were ten years ago, without a doubt, you have changed!

What security do I lose if I dare to change?

One of the biggest challenges for change is our identity: “Who am I?” It is much easier to change what we do than it is to change our identity “who I am”.  When we mix in identity, it gets all complicated. We start to measure our worth and value by how we consider we are living up to that identity.

Nonetheless, we also start to complicate our identity with past versions of ourselves that we unknowingly protect. Our ego seeks to protect “this is who I’ve always been”. We fail to accept “this is who I am becoming”. It’s a scary world when we start to redefine identity, and we get scared and uncertain.

One of the things I love about mBraining and mBIT coaching is that it offers my clients a discovery process. Through the techniques used, we can explore who you are, in the present moment. We can differentiate past versions of identity and all the value and worth that they bring to who you’ve now become. We can even explore your “becoming” and how you envision your growth.

The invitation is to find your security in growing into yourself: think for yourself, listen to your heart and needs.

But understand that as you grow and change, there are risks of things around you changing as well.

Our relationships change and evolve:

Every relationship I have is in constant flux, even my relationship with my six-year-old daughter. If I’m honest, especially that relationship! As she grows and discovers her independence, I have to adapt and evolve my parenting style. The conversations that we have now are so different from a year ago!

So, while we accept that my six-year-old changes and grows, why is so hard to accept that in a year a thirty-year-old or a fifty-year-old will change and grow?

If you are focused on your personal or professional growth, you may outgrow some relationships. Are you holding them lightly or grasping them tightly? The same way that you cannot force a six-year-old to mature before their time, what makes you think that you can drag another person along your growth path with you?

Consider something simple: a decision to join a gym or a running club. How will this change in lifestyle impact your relationship with a sedentary family member or friend? If you were able to find time before to go to the movies twice a week, will this new active lifestyle take away time from the activities you previously pursued? And how will that change in priorities and time impact the relationship?

Every relationship is in flux: continually changing.

The question we have to ask ourselves in each relationship is simple: are our values and priorities still aligned? We grow apart when our values diverge, and we begin to spend our time differently.

Consider any relationship where you find you have grown apart: what values did you have in common that you no longer hold so dear? And how are you going to allow your relationships to define you?

Changes in our health and wellbeing

I have to admit it: until very recently, I struggled with the fact that I am ageing. I am no longer 29 going on 35!

One of the biggest challenges I faced was a failure to change my lifestyle, diet and exercise routine to accommodate my current reality. I no longer have the body of a 29-year-old.

At some stage, we have to accept that the time is now to adopt that healthy lifestyle that we thought we could choose later. I cannot stop the ageing process, but I can embrace it and enjoy excellent health, wellness and vitality at 47! When I finally accepted everything about my body (including Celiac Disease and SIBO), healing started to happen fantastically. I was finally working with the change, rather than resisting it.

Did I have a bit of a crisis before accepting this? Yes!

And I would encourage you to do the same: learn to love and accept your body, health and wellbeing where it is at today and work from there. Accept the changes that have taken place and embrace them.

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Changes in our career or finances

With swings and roundabouts of life, our jobs and funds can have highs and lows. You might be experiencing a career change that involves:

  • more responsibilities;
  • more significant interaction with other staff members;
  • leadership or supervision;
  • delegation of duties you used to take care of yourself;
  • longer hours;
  • more travel;
  • longer or shorter commutes or telecommuting;
  • new company;
  • more remuneration & benefits; or
  • networking opportunities.

Whatever the changes are, they will impact other areas of your life, perhaps even in ways you hadn’t envisioned. Having more money, for example, might change your priorities towards savings or a new home. If you are required to travel more, you might notice the impact it has on your relationships.

Every change you have ripples throughout your life. How mindful and conscious have you been of the effects on change: on yourself as well as on others in your life?  Do they continue to feel safe and secure in their relationship with you? What security do you feel in your finances and career as you change and grow?

May you live in interesting times

Our anxiety levels increase because we want to control not only what we do, but the outcomes and results of our efforts. Nonetheless, if we put our anxious energy to good use, we can focus it into problem-solving and creativity.

If you are struggling to accept change in a given area of your life: consider the cost of the status quo. Where will you be in five years if you make no changes and continue to resist? Does the status quo align with your values and desires?

Or would you prefer to adapt to the interesting times, finding new meaning and a level of security that you don’t currently have?

Finding inner peace in the face of change

The first step is an awareness of the change happening around us and how uncomfortable we are with the changes. What is currently taking place in your world that impacts your sense of security? Are you mindful of the fears that arise for you when you consider the change and growth that is asked of you?

I find it helpful with clients to focus on what they are afraid of: it’s not usually the change itself. Sit with your fear for a moment. What do you value that is threatened by the change? Most of the time, the way is through the fear: accepting all the implications and disruptions that change will cause.

I find it also helps to write two lists on a page:

  1. What I can control
  2. What is beyond my control

Then I have a look at how much time I am wasting worrying about all of the things which are beyond my control. Your point of power and fulcrum on which you can pivot lie only in the first list. When you turn your attention and energy to working only on things that are within your control: you suddenly realise that you can influence the outcome.

The daring adventure of a changing world

H.P. Lovecroft
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest fear is fear of the unknown.”

What if the change isn’t a tragedy that impacts your security, but rather a daring adventure of personal growth?

I invite you to explore these three steps in facing change:

#1 Connection & compassion:

Stay present, open-hearted even, in the face of change. Experience it, all the highs and lows, with compassion for yourself and others. Allow yourself, throughout the whole experience, to be present with your feelings and to notice how others around you are feeling.

For example, my six-year-old has been acting out lately as I have been working longer hours. I’m not only aware of it, but I am also making an effort to connect to her with compassion as she struggles with having less time with me and more time in after-school activities. Being stricter or cold is not the answer. Empathy and connection allow me to recognise her insecurity and respond to her needs.

As you do this, you allow yourself to create more safety and security in your relationships. As you notice your feelings and responses, you can practice higher emotional intelligence: how will I act with this person that feels threatened by the change?

#2 Creativity

A second challenge in the face of change is to tap into your creativity: think outside the box.

Our instinct, when faced with the unknown, is to play it safe. Most of the time, this means doing what we have always done. Unfortunately, this typically is the opposite of what the situation requires for us to navigate change successfully.

Allow yourself to get very present with the current circumstances: what response do these circumstances require of you?

#3 Courage to build a new comfort zone of security

Even if you have connection and creativity – without courage, you may be tempted to do nothing! To successfully navigate change requires courage to create a new comfort zone in which you have peace of mind and security.

Put your plan into play. Be courageous enough to talk to the people in your life that you value and love. Be bold – ask for help, build a new network of support, and create the connections you need to succeed in the changes you are facing in your life.

It’s easy to hope that the change will pass and things will go back to how they always were: but as much as things never change, they are in a constant state of flux, ever-changing.

Have the courage to allow yourself and others around you to grow and evolve with the times.

Are you struggling to navigate change?

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I am happy to jump on a call with you for thirty minutes to discuss how coaching could help you through the challenges you are facing.

Have you signed up for our weekly newsletter? Beth Gray Coach
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