From as far back as I can remember, I have always loved the instrument known as the ball-point pen. Thoroughly enjoying English composition in school, and writing everything from short stories to essays, actors’ scripts, poetry and so on – since then. Writing has always been a dream I have thought of, and often spoken of pursuing to those that know me.
But as the case is with many of our dreams in life, ‘reality’ sets in and we shelve them. There’s not enough time to write that article, there’s not enough money to start that business, there’s not enough people to help us, not enough information and a whole myriad of other reasons why the dream cannot be pursued. Days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months and before you know it, it’s December the 31st and you’re listing the dream again as one of your ‘New Year’s resolutions’ for the following year.
I had one of those moments of truth you have on your birthday after turning a year older, and you start reviewing your year. You know…the ones where you find that the list of unmet goals, unfulfilled dreams and resolutions is longer than the one with actual accomplishments. Even though ‘Success’ is relative, I still had to ask myself why after all these years I had not actively pursued many of the things I claimed to be so passionate about. Like writing. And the answer was the same as what most people say when it comes to these things. That I was waiting for the right opportunity, the right conditions, to meet the right people and so on and so forth. And true to form, those ‘Right conditions’ never materialized.
Other than the fact that what we call ‘patience’ if we were really honest with ourselves, is often laziness in disguise, I’ve also come to learn that for many things in life….there is no perfect moment. There is no ideal situation or circumstance where the stars all line up and declare that you start your business today or that you can go back to school and finish your Grade twelve or whatever it is you aspire to do. You simply have to take a leap of faith and start. Or in the words of Nike, ‘Just do it.’
I guess the fact that you’re reading this post means I eventually did just that. Picked up that pen and started writing. Or more honestly, the laptop and started typing. I had to let go of my excuses, I had to stop being lazy and I had to take the first step towards the destination I’d always wanted to reach. I cannot say it has been easy, but the fulfillment that comes with knowing that I at least tried and gave it my best shot is priceless, and the fact that I now have fewer ‘What if’s is also comforting.
There have been some common invaluable lessons I have learned along the way and gladly share them below, in the hope that they will be of help to you in your own journey towards fulfilling your dreams:
- Know yourself. Be sure to have honest and realistic knowledge of what your passions, strengths and weaknesses are, with obvious bias towards the first two. My pursuit of automotive mechanics for example, would prove futile because I have neither the passion nor the knowledge to pull it off successfully. Do also settle within yourself beforehand the motive for your pursuit. The ‘Why’ is just as important as the ‘How’.
- Identify key resources. While we would all love to be Einstein and invent our own ‘success,’ often there’s already someone out there who has done what you intend to do and successfully so. Find those people and learn from them. Most individuals I admire and would like to emulate for one reason or the other have been quite forthright and encouraging of my ambitions, when approached for counsel. And in the rare instance when such individuals are not readily available, one can always buy a book on the said topic of interest. Worst case scenario…’Google it.’ A lack of knowledge in this day and age should really not be an excuse.
- Flesh out the goal and everything you need to get there. Itemize if necessary and make a list. You may need to do some research to make sure you have a comprehensive picture of what you’re signing up for. A clear understanding of what it takes and the steps required to get there will save you precious time and money in unfruitful experiments.
- Capital. What will it cost to get started? Most things require money, which you may or may not have. While other things require a sacrifice of actual labor, time or adjustments in lifestyle and so on. Either way…there is a cost that needs to be paid, as there are few things that actually come to us on a silver plate. If there is no external support coming your way, look at what is already in your hands. I know someone that started a business supplying snacks to restaurants with only K30,000 (6USD) in hand at the time. She bought a packet of bread rolls, a unit of eggs, a bottle of cooking oil and a few onions and tomatoes. She made ten egg-rolls which she supplied to a shop to sell for a day. Needless to say they were all bought, and she did the same thing the next day, and the next. She could have continued to stay at home polishing her business proposal year in and year out waiting for the day that a bank would see her potential and buy into her grand restaurant idea, or she could start where she was with what she already had in her hands. She chose the latter and her station in life greatly improved. Which brings me to my last point.
- Don’t be afraid to start. Determine what the first step is and take it. A journey of a thousand steps begins with simply putting one foot in front of the other, and repeating that process the next day. And the next day and so forth. And be sure to not despise this humble beginning. Not everyone may cheer you on. Not everyone will understand your motivations. You may have to swallow your pride sometimes and give up on ‘keeping up appearances’, but do something today that your future self will thank you for. Always keep your end goal in mind. You’ll be glad you did.
- And don’t forget to email me with your success story once the ball starts rolling. Iron does sharpen iron after all, right? 😉
All the best!