Letter From The Editor: How to dream big without being too afraid to try

Around this time last year I was giving a talk at a Belle De Jour event. I can’t remember what the topic was exactly, but it’s somewhere along the lines of mistakes I made that brought me where I am today. (Note to self: I must share that here too!) There was a Q&A portion after the talk. Somebody asked: how does a person know what their dream is?

My mind went blank while I was on stage. This is something that I’ve never had to think about before. I mean, shouldn’t every person have some idea of what their dream is? Nothing is too ridiculous, really, because dreaming is absolutely free. We fall asleep and likely we dream. We wake up and likely we think of the life we want to have, the things we want to do. The plausibility of the dream is of course an entirely different thing but the thing itself has zero cost.

The lady in the audience, however, seemed to have no idea what her dream is. Maybe she’s an exception. I actually come across more people who have a dream but are paralyzed by fear to even try exploring it. If you’re in either two categories, then allow me to offer up some of my insights in the year I had to think about this.

#1: You change, constantly, as a person. Your dreams are supposed to change too. Some of you may know that I have a degree in Political Science from the University of the Philippines. I dreamed to become a lawyer, but then I discovered how fun blogging can be! And when I was still a blogger, I did not in any way even imagine that I will be an entrepreneur today. The truth is, we are never the same exact person - life happens, a catalyst is thrown upon us, and we transform. It’s totally okay to have a new dream and change your path no matter how far you are along on a different one.

If you don’t have a dream yet, my advice is to constantly seek out new knowledge, experiences, people, and places. You’re bound to discover a part of yourself that yearns for more. If you’re feeling miserable where you are because you don’t want to be there anymore, and you feel too anxious to even consider being somewhere else, don’t let that fear stop you. You’re allowed to change your dream. It’s only natural that you do, unless you’re a piece of stone. You can even have a lot of dreams at the same time!

#2: Dreams and goals are not the same thing. Dreams are free. They’re the first step to creating a goal! A goal is a clear idea of your dream (mission and vision), a plan by which you can achieve it (step 1, 2, 3, etc.), and a deadline for doing so. I find that writing these down helps with at least having a general outline. Then, you can refine it along the way as you learn from the journey. The key to getting from Point A to Point B successfully is constant and honest reflection and self-evaluation. Which brings me to my next point.

#3: You’re 100% going to fail at many of the things you try - but failure provides valuable information that you could use in your next steps. It’s more useful than any education, any learned advice that you can find. You must view failure not as the final and irrevocable result; this is not a grade that you get at the end of a semester, or a lethal car crash at the end of the road. Think of failure as…rocks strewn in your path. They might seem large and insurmountable, or painfully sharp to step on. But the path goes on, and so should you.

To get closer and closer to your goal, you have to be able to learn from every failure. Think how you failed and how you can avoid it next time. This means that you’ll need to be honest with yourself. Every single ugly truth will reveal a better path ahead.

#4: Fear will always be part of the equation. Every successful person is afraid of something, but acknowledges that fear is just an emotion. What we do in spite of it is what translates to real results in the real world. Sometimes, when I’m in a room full of important people, I fear that I will be exposed as fake. Maybe I’ll say one wrong thing, or dress the wrong way, or not understand something which I should know. Maybe they’ll realize I don’t belong there. Ultimately, however, I don’t let that fear stop me from showing up. What we feel is one thing, but what we do about it is what defines our life and who we are as a person.

These are all things I hold to be true. If you can do, too, then I think you can move forward and dream with less fear.