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Dream big, achieve more, Origineurs podcast episode hosted by communication expert, Loretta Milan

Dream big, achieve more

The problem with being realistic.

Imagine what would happen if, throughout history, people allowed their dreams only to be as big as what felt realistic at the time.

Maybe we’d still be commuting by horse and carriage, powering boats by sail or curing headaches by drilling skulls.

The reason so many things have progressed is because people have allowed their concept of limits to be stretched. They’ve had the courage to dream big and go for it. Sometimes this has been in increments, other times in huge leaps.

Yet too many ideas and dreams collect dust. Why? Because of the limits we place on ourselves rather than immovable barriers.

And, one of the biggest enemies is the most commonly used forms of goal setting. The SMART goal is not always so smart.

It’s time to free yourself of unnecessary limits so you can dream big and achieve more.

The source of many limitations.

When I was a kid – back in the days when we thought it was okay to play on building sites – I loved to shimmy my way along a horizontal piece of pipe in a pair of wellies. Unless I was distracted, I was confident I could get to the end without toppling off.

But one day – when I was a bit older – I noticed a piece of pipe raised up on some scaffolding. I had a realisation. If someone asked me to shimmy along a piece of pipe thirty feet in the air I couldn’t do it.

But why not? It would be the same piece of pipe, the same pair of legs, the same me in motion. All that had changed was the elevation. So, why wouldn’t I give it a go?

I knew the answer. I felt it shivering down my spine and making me shake at the thought: Fear.

When the pipe was on the ground, there were few consequences to me falling, other than hurting my pride. But, higher up, although I was capable of doing the task, the risk of injury was now far greater.

Our minds are designed to protect us from stupidity. Shimmying across a piece of pipe thirty feet in the air is probably not the brightest idea – although possible. And, you’ll be pleased to know, I didn’t do it.

But our minds can make mistakes. It can place limits on us based on dangers that we’ve outgrown, can mitigate against or dangers that are simply so unlikely that the risk of inaction potentially outweighs it.

In fact, often, you are your only limit.

The 8 most common limitations and how to overcome them.

There are eight common ways we place limits on ourselves but there are lots of ways you can raise the ceiling and so you can dream bigger.

1. Letting history dictate the future.

Just because something hasn’t worked previously for you or someone else, doesn’t mean it can’t work now.

If you’ve made a mistake, failed or been told you’re not good enough in the past, that’s history too. You are today you. You’ve come a long way and you’re going to keep growing and developing.

You change, people change and the world changes. Or it can with the right actions.

Look at things now. Really look at them with an objective eye. Can you make things work with the skills and resources you have today or what do you need to do to acquire them?

One thing’s certain, you deserve your ambitions, whatever’s happened in the past. So, what can you do today to move things forward? Now is a great time.

2. Creating ‘no go’ zones.

Fear can create ‘no go’ zones in your life even when something hasn’t happened yet.

Do you ever find yourself speculating as to the potential consequences of doing something and letting that stop you? It can be overwhelming to think of all the things that could go wrong and it can feel safer to stay where you are now.

The question is, would you want to be where you are now in five years, ten years or more. Or do you want something more?

It’s wise to look at consequences but rather than letting them stop you, a more constructive approach can be to instead focus on your resourcefulness.

What’s the likeness of any of these events occurring and how could you plan to manage these things should they happen? With enough time and thought, it’s surprising just how many challenges can be overcome. 

3. Letting disbelief override.

Believing something will never work or that you will never be able to do it, can stop you before you’ve event started.

Many times, disbelief is your mind trying to protect you from failure, embarrassment, hard work or other fears.

Don’t stop yourself before you’ve even got off the starting blocks.

Instead allow yourself to be curious.

Ask yourself…

  • What if it could work?
  • What if you could do it?

Picture what this would look like and the actions you would be taking.

If you don’t have the immediate solution, it can help to collaborate. When you bring the right people together to generate ideas, it’s surprising what you can make happen.

Could building a team or support system help you make your ambitions a reality?

4. Sticking only to what you are good at.

Often, the advice to lean into what you are good at is helpful. Our natural gifts can make things easier and enjoyable.

But, if we only stick to what we’re good at, life can be very limiting. It can be an excuse to stay in a safe zone.

Our minds and bodies are remarkably adaptable. If something doesn’t come naturally at first, it doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to do it. Some things simply require more dedication and perseverance.

The question is, how much to you want it and are you willing to stick at it and make it work even on the days it feels tough? And, how will you feel when you enjoy the rewards of everything you’ve made happen?

5. Not feeling the part.

Some people hold themselves back because they don’t feel the part. Maybe they don’t look, sound or behave like someone who they think normally pursues a particular path.

The question is, what is normal? Your differences, your originality, is your opportunity to bring something different to the game, to stand out and shine.

If you feel you’re not good enough, it’s simply not true. Skills and experience can be acquired – and it’s wise to consider what you need and to take steps to gain this – but you absolutely deserve your dreams and your place in the world.

Check out our episode on why you are good enough.

6. Believing opinions are true when they aren’t.

Feelings of being inadequate or ill-equipped for your ambitions can sometimes come about because of the opinions of others.

But opinions are not always reliable.

If someone gives you constructive advice – great – you can take that on onboard during your journey. Check out this great episode on handling advice.

But sometimes people try to crush dreams. It could be because they care – they worry about your being hurt, failing or facing some other consequence. In which case, you can reassure them about your resourcefulness and the steps you are taking (if it’s someone you want to share this with).

Other times, dream crushing is done out of jealousy, malice or hate. Some people feel bad when they see others taking action to make their dreams happen when they are not, or simply like causing trouble.

You don’t need to believe everyone’s opinions. Look at the evidence to stay grounded. What matters is that you believe in your ambitions.

7. Waiting for a better day.

How many times have you said I’ll do that tomorrow, next week, next month or maybe I’ll do it next year?

I’m a big believer in the saying ‘Tomorrow never comes’. Unless you truly decide to do something, write it down and plan to do it, it doesn’t start to become a reality.

I know this, because if I forget, I find tasks stacking up pretty quickly!

Being firm with your commitments matters most of all with your big ambitions.

If you wait for a better time like when you move to a different job, live in a better place, the kids are older, all you are doing is de-prioritising yourself. And you matter.

Rather than focusing on what you don’t have. Look at what you do have. Even if you only have a small amount of time daily or weekly, that’s enough to start.

8. Smashing goals to fit reality.

Finally, I wanted to say something about SMART goals – or specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound goals – depending on the variation you’ve heard.

SMART goals can be useful in many contexts and being specific with your goals is always important.

But there’s a problem with how many people approach SMART goal setting. They can start with the ‘realistic’ and ‘time’ parts first, which can lead them to smush their ambitions into these constraints.

A better approach is to begin with your dream or vision. What do you want to make possible? Make sure you can picture this really clearly. That’s your focus.

Then you need to work backwards from there. How much time do you need to make it happen? If you don’t personally have that much time, who do you need to bring on board or what resources do you need? Get creative. It’s surprising what’s possible.

Some of the greatest achievements in the world didn’t look particularly realistic at the outset. They were approached with limitless thinking and determination that a solution would be found.

You are resourceful and great solutions are within you when you believe your big ambitions are possible.

Give yourself permission to dream big.

Start with where you want to be and don’t let the end be the only part you focus on.

We don’t watch films just to see the ending. We don’t read a great book just for the final line. Equally, we don’t go out for meals, just to enjoy the final bite of pudding. Every bit matters.

When it comes to your ambitions, try to design a journey that you will find fulfilling most of the time. Sure, there will be parts that will be boring and tedious and you’ll have to push through. But make sure the idea of most of it motivates you overall.

Because, just like when you go on an amazing road trip, when you love the journey, you’re more likely to stick with it. And, when you stick with the things that matter to you, big things happen.

Key takeaways.

  1. Throughout history, and throughout the world, if we’d always stuck to what felt realistic at the time and never pushed the limits, we’d never benefit from all the advancements we have today. Likewise, you can dream big and achieve more by raising your limits.
  2. There are eight common ways we place limits on ourselves. Letting history dictate the future. Creating ‘no go’ zones. Letting disbelief override. Sticking only to what you’re good at. Not feeling the part. Believing opinions are true. Waiting for a better day. And, smashing goals to fit reality. Now that you’re aware of these limitations and have some tips for addressing them, consider where you need to lift the ceiling.
  3. Start with where you want to be and don’t let the end be the only part you focus on. When you create a journey that you will find motivating, you are more likely to stick at it. And when you stick at it, big things happen.

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