"Dream big. Reach for the stars. The only limit is in your mind." How often do you hear these words? We're filled with the power of positive mantras in motivational texts, books, and seminars. The problem with expansive thinking, however, is that too big can be just as much of a problem.
The problem of thinking too big, however,
is that you’ll forget to get started.
Or you’ll become afraid of getting started.
The more you dream, the bigger it becomes, the harder it can be to begin. And sometimes, dreaming can get in the way of taking action. Over time, the practice of not starting becomes the best habit you have—another day to practice not starting, not doing anything.
Action is difficult. Deciding is painful. Manifestation, by definition, requires limitation. In order to make something real, you need to carve out and throw out all of the possible ways that something will not be. To make requires substance and grounding. It requires physicality and reality. It inherently means you limit the dream.
As you sketch your dreams for your life and career, you can have multiple jobs. You can own multiple businesses. Make multiple projects. But dwelling in dream land can hinder action.
The longer you hold onto an idea, the more the idea becomes a part of your identity, and the more wrapped up you become in making sure that idea is what will become the reality. The more goal-oriented and dream-oriented, the harder it gets to start. And if you hold on for too long, that idea of perfect execution becomes so big and monstrous, that if you take action—especially if you take action and fail—you’ll have killed or damaged part of your identity, part of what you’re yearning and hoping for. By chasing the dream with action, you put yourself in a scary place: a place where you might not get what you want.
Making dreams become real is a scary business. Ignorance can be a blessing. You sidestep the part where you get distracted by all of your fears of failure because you haven't been able to imagine them yet.
Sometimes hope and patience can turn a dream into an enormous mental glorification, resulting in the worst sin of all:
Specifically, not starting because of fear of failure. Because if you fail, you’re not what you thought you would be.
Our minds get in the way sometimes. Stop that thinking.
Big-picture thinking has its place. So does action. Sometimes you have to get out of your head, into the world, into the making, and start testing. Start building. Make a small thing, make a bunch of mistakes, shake it off, keep going. Over time, you can iterate. Test a couple ideas.
Worry less about getting there and more about being here.
But if you don’t start—you won’t go anywhere.
Want a bit more motivation? A few years ago, I put together a mini-book on motivation with hand-drawn notes, quotes, and words to get you going. The book is available by donation or for free through Gumroad. If you want a copy, grab your own—it's free if you'd like it.
Coming soon! The Writer's Workshop and Content Strategy for Thought Leaders, as digital self-guided courses. Available in the Fall. Early-bird registration will be shared first to my private email list.