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You catch yourself staring out of the window daydreaming.
What challenges are you thinking about? Finding work that feels worthwhile? A happier life? An exciting project? A big life change? Finding love? Getting fit? More balance? Turning your passion into a living?
Daydreaming means Thinking Big about the future – then we need to take actions to make that dream a reality. Getting going is tough, keeping up the momentum is even tougher. I’m sharing six powerful ways to keep going once you commit to a big project and make your dream into a reality.
Eighteen months ago I was daydreaming about making a living working for myself as a professional career coach. The vision was exciting. When the dream became a reality, everything changed.
Suddenly I was faced with a big mountain to climb. I felt a combination of intense excitement mixed with deep nausea. I was climbing my own Mount Everest – what an amazing undertaking. Looking up at the top, I saw the sun glinting on the mountain top, a beautiful peaceful place. I knew that I had to get there.
Getting started wasn’t easy, and in the end I just had to cross my fingers toes and everything else and just go for it. As several of you pointed out, the challenge is how to keep going.
Once the novelty wore off, I sometimes found myself slogging through the foothills. After weeks of hard work, the peak only appeared a little closer, and my starting point teasingly close. The temptation to call in the rescue team and go home teased me. No harm, no foul.
I’ve learned a lot about how to keep going during the last 18 months. It has been a steep ascent, with some rocky patches. Yet there have been some breathtaking vistas and milestones that have kept me striding slowly forward one step at a time. On reflection, here are six big lessons I’ve learned about how to take on any or challenge and keep going:
- Keep the dream alive – I’ve kept that glinting ray of light at the top of the mountain burning bright in my mind. My motivation is to make a living helping others find satisfaction, peace and happiness through meaningful work. When the going gets tough, remembering this re-energizes me and keeps me going.
- Break up the journey – when I started out, the mountain looked huge. I set up some intermediary targets along the way. Creating this blog was one of the legs on my journey. These camps on the mountain provide short-term objectives – to make it to the next station. Breaking up my dream into achievable chunks makes it seem realistic.
- Get support – no one in their right mind would climb a huge mountain alone. I’ve assembled a great support team of supporters, mentors, advisers, collaborators to help me on the climb. They carry my pack for me when the going gets tough, share their oxygen when the air is thin, give me a pep talk when I’m despairing. Without this team, I know I’d have no chance.
- Stop and enjoy the view – at first I often saw the climb as an endless trudge without end. I felt tired and drained. I’ve learned that to stay motivated I need to enjoy every step of the journey. I try to do things that I love as much as possible (still have to do the admin though!). I regularly stop and enjoy the view along the way – looking back on what how far I’ve come and reflecting on how the world has changed already. Enjoying the climb makes it worth continuing.
- Prepare for setbacks – Setbacks are inevitable on the climb. I’ve had my fair share of challenges – workshops with no attendees, prospects who aren’t interested. Now I think ahead to try and see what pitfalls may be ahead and try to plot my path to avoid these. I also have learned to prepare myself mentally for these moments and to find the good or opportunity in them. The setbacks don’t stop me in my tracks and bring the doubt that they used to. I can reflect, find the lesson and move on up the hill.
- Be flexible – there are many routes to reach the top of most mountains and they may be more or less difficult depending on the conditions. I’ve realised that doggedly following the planned path doesn’t always work. I’m more flexible and open to different directions as long as they keep me moving toward the summit.
So where am I on the mountain now? I’ve helped lots of people to find work that they love and am making a living doing work I love. The summit of the mountain is much closer than base camp now.
After all the climbing I’ve done so far, I’m starting to become a life mountaineer. I’ve got through many days when I didn’t know if I could keep going. I know that I’ll reach the summit now.
Are you a life mountaineer? How do you keep going? What motivates you to climb your mountain? How do you maintain progress when the going gets tough?