The journey to success is never an easy one. I’ve been told this from the start, reminded with every curveball, and I’ve even whispered this to myself before falling asleep. I will get there. Even if the road is messy and long, I will get there.
The truth about following your dreams is that there’s no roadmap. There’s no person walking in front of you, saying ‘do this,’ or ‘go there,’ or ‘everything will be okay.’ A lot of it is trusting your gut. The rest is having the heart to do it even when you don’t know what the heck ‘it’ is.
In July 2018 I launched my business. This was the first ‘leap’ in the direction I’d been building in my mind for years. It was the ‘saying yes’ to myself instead of listening to the rest of the world, and it was truly believing I could. (Which is the biggest hurdle of all).
Believing in yourself is challenging. Fear plays such a big role, so does self-doubt, negative perceptions from the people around you, and life circumstances. But you can’t let those things hold you back. If there’s a dream on your heart, go after it.
Here are some tips to help you do just that.
1. Understand that you can’t please everyone and it really doesn’t matter in the end.
I’ve lived the bigger part of my life worrying about what people would think. I was always trying to people-please, always trying to make everyone happy. And honestly? Majority of the time, it left me feeling empty.
You can’t please everyone. You can’t be everythingto everyone. And life isn’t about that in the first place.
Whether you’re a designer, artist, poet, product manager, etc. you’re going to have to get over the fact that people won’t like you, what you create, or even what you stand for sometimes. That doesn’t mean you change your beat to fit someone else’s desires, it means you believe in yourself and what you can do. And you do it anyways.
2. Stop seeking approval.
You don’t need someone’s permission to be who you are. You don’t need their approval. And you don’t need to be ‘likeable’ in order to be successful.
There’s a cliché saying ‘find your tribe,’ but honestly, it’s so true! There will be people who resonate with your work, and people who don’t. While it’s infinitely valuable to learn how to take constructive criticism, you also have to understand that someone’s opinion of you isn’t your identity.
3. Replace every fearful or ‘I can’t’ statement with an ‘I can.’
It’s amazing the power of changing an ‘I can’t’ to an ‘I can.’ In fact, this is one of the biggest principles I used as a classroom teacher.
When we get down and negative about ourselves, it stifles our ability to create, to move forward, and to see our own success (even if/when it’s right in front of us!) If you want to be successful, if you have a dream on your heart, if you really want to believe in yourself, you have to be willing to replace negativity with positivity. You have to understand that sometimes you’re your own worst enemy, and the biggest battle you have to fight is the one in your own mind.
4. Make the small steps first.
When I first though about starting a business, I was completely overwhelmed. In fact, I was just talking on a panel discussion with a class of writing students at my alma mater the other day about how I started and how I really had no clue. (None of us do!)
But it all started with the small steps. I built ideas for how I wanted the business structure to be. I made a Facebook group. Then I started branding. Planned my services. Began drafting, etc.
It all started from one small step—everything does.
Although it’s daunting to know where and how to begin, you have to. That’s all it is. Taking one step at a time until you look back and realize how far you’ve come.
5. Stop comparing and start building.
What will stifle your growth the most is falling into the comparison trap. When you’re continually looking around at what everyone else is doing, you won’t recognize the potential you have. If you’re so focused on the person whose page is ‘better’ or ‘has more followers,’ you won’t recognize the audience that’s right in front of you, begging for your attention.
It’s not about how you measure up, it’s about how you build your own entity in this world.
There is no one else like you. There is no one who has the same vision, drive, and uniqueness to their work. Sure, you’ll meet people along the journey that have similar content ideas, do similar jobs, etc. But a large part of believing in yourself is realizing that doesn’t matter.
What matters is carving out your niche, taking up space, and knowing that you have a place here. And you’re going to do big things.
Featured Image Credit: Anika Huizinga
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