09 Mar How I Stopped Dreaming and Started Doing
Let’s face it. We are all dreamers.
Some of us dream about a tropical paradise in the middle of a harsh winter and others dream about riches that can unshackle them from the miserable life they are trapped in.
However, only a chosen few among millions of dreamers get to realize their dreams. These are the dreamers who became doers and also probably got lucky along the way.
Why are some people destined to get what they dream about while most others cannot seem to make any progress?
While luck or the hand of God does indeed play a role, the path towards realizing your goals starts with a few small changes to the lifestyle that anyone can master.
Now that’s a bold statement to make.
But when I look back at the changes I made to my own life, I believe anyone can do what I did. Five years ago, I was just an average Sipho with a better than average, comfortable 9 to 5 job in Cape Town. I left my job and relocated to Gauteng, the province of my birth, and bootstrapped a business. I am still struggling to get it off the ground, but I have no regrets.
Five years ago, I stopped being a dreamer and became a doer and here are three things I did to make the switch.
1. I defined my dreams
Looking back at my own transition into an entrepreneur, I realized that the first step in the journey to achieve your goals is to paint a vivid picture of your goals.
If you have always dreamed of becoming a full-time scuba diving instructor in Durban, you need to start thinking about how much money you will need to live in Durban, what would it cost to become a licensed diver, how are other diving instructors promoting their business, and where will you learn to become a diving instructor?
I had a comfortable job and a good life in the beautiful Southern Suburb. But something wasn’t just feeling right. I was always dreaming of running my own business and doing anything else seemed like a compromise. However, it seemed strange that most of my friends had similar dreams yet they remained chained to their regular jobs. I decided to stop dreaming and start working towards my dream.
Here is what I did.
I nailed down the details of what I dreamed about. If I were to start a business, what business would it be? How much money would I need to start the business? How will I get my first customer? Who are my competitors? What skills do I lack that will stop me from starting or running the business? These were just some of the questions that needed unambiguous answers.
Finding answers to these questions gave me a clear set of goals that did not seem like an impossible dream anymore. Clarity of thought helped me figure out what it took to achieve my dream and identify the gaps or hurdles that I needed to clear in pursuit of my dreams.
2. I changed my habits and learned to focus
Once you have given a concrete shape to your dream, the next step in your journey from being a dreamer to becoming a doer is to break down the goals into a series of incremental actions that will eventually add up to make a dent in the hurdles you may be facing.
Coming back to my own journey of becoming an entrepreneur, I worked on several small ticket items (seemingly disconnected) that came together to help me say goodbye to my 9 to 5 job.
Here are a few things I did.
I started reading books about successful entrepreneurs to help motivate myself.
I started saving up money aggressively by cutting down on frivolous expenses.
I was spending a lot of time using products that my ‘future competitors’ already had in the market just to understand how I could possibly do better.
I started dabbling in areas that I was uncomfortable in, i.e. coding and accounting.
I was doing all of this while still holding on to the reality of working in a 9 to 5 job. I had to make sacrifices and bring about changes in my habits and lifestyle in the interest of laying a solid foundation on which I wanted to build a new reality.
3. I treated setbacks as blessings
Getting what you want is not easy and that’s why most of us are trapped in an unpleasant reality. If I were to pinpoint a single trait that will help someone magically transform their dream into reality, it is resilience.
Life will throw curve balls at every turn. However, as long as you recognize that setbacks are actually blessings in disguise, you will move forward in your quest.
Here are a few things that happened as I was preparing to start my business.
I fell sick with a mystery illness that confounded every specialist physician that examined me! I was feeling listless and drained 24X7 and it was a nightmare to go through with the unending lists of tests and scans.
I did not let this setback stop me from working on my new habits or focusing on my dreams. In fact, I saw this set back as a sign from above that told me to focus on leading a healthy lifestyle. After all, what good can come out of realizing your dreams when you can no longer have the health to enjoy it?
Setbacks have now become a way of life! But they haven’t stopped me yet. When I mustered enough courage to start my business, I realized that whatever assumptions I had about what I will be offering as a product did not hold good anymore as the market had changed!
I took it as yet another challenge in the series of hurdles that I should be crossing before getting my business on track to profitability.
Looking back, it was my determination and conviction that helped me survive seemingly insurmountable odds.
Don’t let your dreams remain in the realm of fantasy. The only way to make the transition to becoming what I call the “Action Hero” is to start thinking through the details of what you want and knocking down incremental action items relentlessly.
I am by no means a successful entrepreneur yet and I know very well that I may fail. However, I am now living my dreams.
Are you a dreamer? Share your goals and outline your plan to make it a reality in the comments below.