In today’s episode, Anna asks: What is The Dream? What does that actually look like? What are you trying to achieve?
Again and again, I see people and I see clients coming to me and they’re getting all caught up in, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly do this,” or, “I’m getting stuck… How do I do xyz? How am I ever going to achieve this?” Before they really know, before you really know: WHAT are you trying to achieve? What is the dream? And the question is, “What if it all works out?” So I want to give you permission this week – not that I need to give you permission, you can always do this, but perhaps at least a reminder – to ask yourself those “what if?” questions. I know it can seem naive and perhaps your partner, your friends, your family, and others – not to mention you yourself – will say, “You’re being too idealistic!” There’s no point in dreaming big, right? Because you have to pay the mortgage, take care of the kids, etc etc. and I’ve got the children… Okay, fine. We can, and must, and will look at the practical considerations… but what’s the point of all of that if we’re not allowing ourselves to dream, to imagine? What if it all works out?
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
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What are you trying to achieve?
Hello. Hello there and welcome back as we continue to reimagine success in the next stage of your career, your business, your life in 2021 and beyond. So this is going to be a good one. It’s an exciting one. I hope you will agree. We tend to and certainly, I like to get into detail on, okay, how do you do this? Last week, we looked at criteria and parameters, and we look at business plans, and models, and looking at our beliefs with this, and strategies, and consistency, and showing up, and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, building your brand, the business, and everything. That’s really important.
However, as I hope you’ve already heard me say before and I’m going to say it again now, it’s really important to put the what before the how. So again and again, I see people and I see clients coming to me and they’re getting all caught up in, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly do this.” Or, “I’m getting stuck. How do I do that? What am I going to do here? How am I going to achieve this?” Before they really know, before you really know: what are you trying to achieve here? What is the dream? And the question is, “What if it all works out?”
So I want to give you permission this week – not that I need to give you permission, you can always do this, but perhaps at least a reminder – to ask yourself those what-if questions. I know it can seem really naive and perhaps, your partner, your friends, your family, other people, and even you yourself will tell yourself, “Oh, I’m being so idealistic and that’s ridiculous. There’s no point in dreaming because I have to pay the mortgage and I’ve got the children…” Okay, fine. We can, and will, and need to, look at the practical considerations, and that’s what we were looking at last week as well with the practical criteria, the parameters for your decision…
But what’s the point of all of that if we’re not allowing ourselves to dream, to imagine?
Something that might seem impossible to do right now, really far off in the future, if you take little steps now in that right direction, you’re going to get there. Five years, 10 years from now, actually, I feel quite confident reaching my big goals with that time horizon. Next week, next month, maybe not so much. So it’s a matter of perspective of shifting how long you get to invest in these dreams. But, of course, still we need to take those steps in the meantime. Even if we decide to or we don’t manage to reach that ideal perfect dream (which, of course, doesn’t exist anyway), we will still be taking steps in the right direction in the meantime. At least we have that clarity. We have the conviction so that we’re feeling motivated, energised, and we are focusing on the right things.
So really important to put the what before the how, but then the question is, “What is that what?” What is it you’re actually trying to achieve here with this business that you’re working on, with these changes that you’re making for the next year, that’s what we’re looking at the moment, but also beyond for the future? What is the dream? What is the dream? What if it all works out? No worrying about, “Oh, but I’m going to have to do this and that’s not going to work, and it’s going slower than I thought so I’m not getting clients.” Fine. But, what if you do get the clients? What if you do get the help you need? What if you do find out which things you need to focus on? What if you do take consistent action and over time, what if you do get the results you want? What are those results, and why is it so important to you?
I’m not probably talking about when I say results, “Oh, I’d like to have 100 clients. And I’d like to have this many programmes and so on.” But really the dream, painting a vivid picture of, “If it all works out, I’m going to be running this kind of business, living in this kind of place, working with these kinds of people, and above all, living this kind of life.” I’m keeping it vague because I don’t want to put my own words into your mind. I’m sure deep down if you dare to admit it to yourself, let alone to other people, you’re much clearer than you think or that you dare to admit to people on what exactly the dream is.
The example I always give, and I worked with one of my first coaches… In fact, I think the first coach ever paid for. So shout out to Naomi Jane. Thank you so much, Naomi. I met her at a conference in Greece many years ago. I worked with her on, in fact, I can’t even remember what we worked on at the time, but lots of business goals, and life changes, and so on quite early in my transition. But the big insight she called me up on and something that I have never forgotten was that I was talking about something else, which evidently, I have now forgotten, and then I said, “Let’s say my dream were to be a best-selling author living by the ocean.” And then she said, “Hang on. Anna, stop. That is your dream, right?” “Oh, yes.”
Now, it’s a pretty vague dream and, of course, there are many facets to this and many things I dream of. But the truth is I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve romanticised that notion, as many of us have, of writing books, and being an author, and a best-selling author. I’d love to live by the sea. In fact, I’m working on that at the moment. So, yes, to be honest, if I admitted it to myself, that was the dream. Now, of course, to be a really compelling dream, I’d want to break that apart. As another sort of metaphor that I’ve thought about before and again, I think somebody suggested this to me. Unfortunately, I now can’t remember who it was, but it’s really stuck with me and I always tell my clients this as well. If you imagine your ideal dream up there in the crystal, perfectly pristine, it’s on the shelf, you maybe now and then take it down and look at it and go, “Oh, it’s so beautiful.” And put it back up there, but never do anything about it, that’s actually quite soul-destroying.
In a way, it’s safer. You stay in your comfort zone. You can glance at it. You can dream about it. You can tell people, “Yes, I’ve got this dream. I’m going to work towards this.” Maybe you don’t tell people, who knows?
But it’s not going to happen, let’s face it. Maybe it shouldn’t happen because maybe that isn’t a real dream. It’s a pretty idealistic, theoretical dream that you haven’t really considered or broken down. Speaking of breaking down, what I’d recommend instead if we’re taking this metaphor further, is to take that crystal, pristine dream off the shelf, dust it off, more than that, throw it onto the ground, break it apart, shatter into a million pieces or at least a few pieces, and really see, “Okay, what does this consist of? What exactly is this dream? Why is it so important to me? What is it about being a bestselling author that’s so important? What is it about being an author or a writer that’s so important? Why do I want to live by the ocean?”
I’m sure I’ve shared this many times. We’ve done workshops on the specific question of writing books and so on. But the dream for me, at least, and for most people is not to be JK Rowling or Stephen King. Perhaps, that is the ideal dream, in which case, by all means, have that. But if you break it apart, if you really ask yourself, you’ll most likely find that there’s something more meaningful underneath it. “I want to write. I want to have my book physically in my hand. I want to be working flexibly. I want to be probably doing more than that. I want to be speaking about the things that I’m really passionate about. I want to be…”
Actually, in my case, I love now running a business and helping other people find their dreams and so on. I want to live by the sea because I want the fresh air. I want the nature. I want to go for a run along the beach. I want to have that kind of lifestyle and for my children and so on. So really dusting it off, breaking that apart, and understanding the constituent parts, “What’s really important here? What’s just perhaps a naïve, idealistic goal that I had when I was younger and I don’t understand what that really means? And how could I begin to construct a dream for the future?” So that’s just an example.
Again, I think if you dare to admit it to yourself, you probably have something like that. I’ve had clients again and again, after initially dancing around the topic, eventually, they’ll say, “Oh, there is this one idea I’ve had for a really long time.” Or, “There is this one thing I really like to do.” Then there’s often a battle, “I’m not quite there yet, and I don’t quite dare to admit it.” But once they do, that’s incredibly exciting because that’s when we go, “Okay, let’s look at this theoretical dream, this longstanding idea you’ve had, this kind of idealistic thing that you think might not be possible that you haven’t dared to consider. Let’s consider it. Let’s break it apart. Let’s look at the constituent elements and see what could that look like? What could you also, of course, do as a next step to get closer to that dream?”
So break apart your dreams. First of all, admit them to yourself. Admit them to me. By all means, I’d love to hear your dreams as well. So get in touch and just look at them, examine them, and ask yourself, “What if? What if this were something I could achieve, were something I could work towards?” That’s really exciting and really empowering. Again, I think the what-if question, “If I were to achieve this, this is what would be possible. I would feel this way. I would have X, Y, Z. I’d be able to do A, B, C.” It’s sort of distancing yourself a little bit to make it a little bit more feasible because it’s not saying, “Okay, this is my dream. This is my goal. I’m working towards this now and it has to happen step one, two, three in the next six months.”
Take a step back, distancing ourselves a little bit, going, “Okay, what if everything works out? What am I actually trying to achieve here?” Especially, by the way, this could be a useful exercise if you’re still stuck in the reeds of your corporate job, and something you’re not very happy with, and your work-life situation, it could also be and would also be useful if you’ve been hustling away on your business and your ideas and you’re getting a little bit caught up in the details of, “Oh, people aren’t following me here.” Or, maybe you are being successful and people are signing up and so on but, “Hang on a second. I’ve forgotten what it was that I was trying to achieve in the first place.” It’s easy to get sucked into, again, the hamster wheel, the conveyor belt, whatever you want to call it, and that hustle, which I’ve talked about many times as well.
So, really powerful question to ask yourself. “What if everything that I’m now currently hustling on, working away on, what if it does work out? What does that look like? By the way, does that look like what it is I’m actually trying to achieve?” Or, “Hang on a second. No, even if I get everything that I’m now currently working towards, that’s not really what’s important to me. That’s not my big dream.” So, what is the dream? I don’t even want to give you any exercises or tools here. I just want you to sit with it. You can meditate. We’ll talk about vision boards, and themes, and exercises you can do, freewriting, journaling, go for a walk or run, have a bath. I always say have a shower, whatever it is that works for you. It might just be something you want to sit with for a moment and just, “Hang on. Hmm. That’s a great question. What if it doesn’t work out?”
Really imagine, where are you living? Who are you with? What are you doing? What has changed? What have you achieved? What are you working on? What’s your day-to-day look like? How do you feel? What are you having? What are you being? What are you doing? So lots of really specific questions you can get into, but really sit with it, feel it instinctually, and really get to grips with, “Okay. What if it all works out? What is that big dream?” And that’s so incredibly powerful.
Again, I can teach you all sorts of tactics and strategies for your business but unless you really own that vision for the future of what you want for work but also for your lifestyle more broadly, unless you feel committed, and convinced, and inspired, and motivated to work towards that vision, you’re probably not going to get there with all these little things here and there, or post everyday on Instagram, or this is the business strategy should follow. You’re not going to be really owning that vision. You’re not going to be working towards. And when you get there, you’re not going to be, “Well, where is there?” There isn’t where you wanted to be. So really, really powerful exercise to do.
Imagine, envision, feel, paint that really vivid picture. Of course, again, if you’ve been part of my community for a while, you’ll know that that picture of your dream of where you want to be is not just, “I’m running a six, seven-figure business and I’m earning this, that, and the other. I’ve got this many clients, and this is what the business looks like, et cetera. Also, I’m a thought leader in the space.” That’s all very well and good, and that’s really powerful, really exciting to have and by all means, very admirable. We all know that’s not the only thing that matters, right?
So really think holistically. Think, okay, maybe you want to have children if that’s on the cards for you. Maybe you do want to meet your partner. Maybe conversely, you’re in a relationship that isn’t working, and actually, you want to have some time to yourself. Who knows what that looks like. Maybe you want to be living close to your extended family. Maybe you want to get away from them. Maybe you do want to live by the sea or the countryside. Maybe you want to live in the buzz of a big city. Maybe you want to live abroad, whatever that looks like. Maybe you want to be travelling all the time. Maybe you want to really get to grips with your health, your well-being, and really take care of yourself, and be your fittest, and healthiest, and happiest self. All these things are so important.
You want to be learning and growing. You want to be thinking about all those other aspects, not just, “I want to be earning this much.”
Those are, again, important goals. Yes. They will be part of it. But really, ultimately, that’s not what matters. That’s not, “Okay. I want to be any that much. Why? Because it’s going to allow me to live in a gorgeous house by the beach, and I’m going to be able to give my kids the experiences I want them to have. I’m going to be able to live my best life and enjoy travelling, and I don’t have to worry about money and whatever it is.” So really dig deeper, of course.
We’ve talked before about the five whys, really asking yourself, “Okay, I want to live by the sea.” “Why?” “Well, because I want to be a…” Why?” Or, “Yes, I want to be a bestselling author.” “Why?” “Well, I really like the idea.” Why?” So keep asking you those questions until you really get to the bottom of the reason for why it is you want to do that. But, again, I don’t want to make this sort of a really serious and I guess heavy exercise. It’s really, for once, completely open, exciting, imagining, envisioning, feeling, thinking, really exciting, “What is the dream here? What is the dream? What if it all works out? What does that look like?” I hope you have fun with that.
Of course, it’s a good time at the end of the year as you have a bit of time off, perhaps, from work and so on, you don’t want to be anyway sitting and doing all the detailed strategies, and tactics, and things. It’s a really great opportunity to anyway, be with your family, hopefully, be with your loved ones. In between the gaps, often when we take the step away from the day-to-day hustle, that’s when the big insights come. So hopefully, this question is something that can just sort of sit with you in the next few weeks, and then we’ll see what we can do with that tangibly as we move forwards. What if it all works out? What is the dream? Thanks so much for listening, and I’ll see you next week. Bye for now.
If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:
Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation
Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall
Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com
Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5
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