The secret to living your dreams
You would be surprised if you knew how many things actually make me nervous before I first do them.
Sometimes calling one of my clients makes me nervous – my clients and audiences are so important to me that I fear messing up and losing them.
Even with nearly thirty countries under my belt, I still get nervous when I first travel to a new place.
And when I go to social events where everyone seems infinitely more successful and intelligent than I am, I get self-conscious and anxious.
Even though all of those things make me nervous, at least at first, I do them frequently. I talk to my clients nearly every day, I travel internationally whenever I can, and I strive to surround myself with the most interesting and successful people possible.
The alternative of course is to do nothing that scares me or makes me nervous. If I did nothing frightening, I would be working a job that I don’t care about, hanging out with people who don’t inspire me, and wishing I were travelling. That is a very real option should I ever fail to face my fears. Needless to say, facing fear is important to my success and happiness and I believe it is the secret to living your dreams.
The best way I’ve learned to live my dreams is to remind myself that I’m going to die. Possibly I’ll die in the next five minutes – it’s unlikely, but possible. More likely I will die several decades from now. Unfortunately you’ll die too. Everyone does.
What I don’t know – and for that matter what no one knows for sure – is what happens after death.
Possibly there is some form of afterlife and we continue on.
Possibly there is no afterlife and our flame is completely extinguished.
Either way, it’s a matter of faith, of belief, and of feeling strongly that one version of what happens after death is more accurate than the other. We know we are alive, we know we die, but we don’t know what happens after that.
And more than anything else in the world, that knowledge inspires me to leave my comfort zone and live my dreams.
I want to share a personal strategy that helps me find the confidence I need to chase after my dreams. It’s a mental exercise I use to remind myself that I’m in control of my actions, and that one way or another, I’m going to die.
I like to go to a quiet place and turn the lights down. I close my eyes and imagine that I’m very old and on my death bed. I imagine that I’m looking over the life that I led, reviewing and replaying the decisions I made and the experiences I had.
First, I imagine that I led a life based in fear. A life where there were a million things I wanted to do – become a professional speaker, travel the world, ask my crush out on a date, etc – but never actually did. And I imagine that each time I thought about doing one of those things, the fear overwhelmed me and I didn’t take action.
I think about what sort of life that would be. I realize that a life ruled by fear sucks. When you live that way, you die with a 1,000,000 regrets.
But then, I imagine something different. I imagine that I’m still very old and on my death bed but this time I imagine that I led a life ruled by passion, one where I chased after my dreams even though they forced me out of my comfort zone. I imagine that I became a speaker, travelled the world, got the girl, etc.
I think about what sort of life that would be. I realize that a life ruled by passion turns into an incredible life. I would be upset that I was dying – life was so sweet – but I would know that I truly lived while I was alive.
After I run through the mental exercise, I wake myself back up and remind myself of two simple things:
2) No matter what, I will die.
Once that exercise is over I always realize that the decision to live a life based in either passion or fear is up to me. Generally, if I do nothing, fear wins. So I work hard to overcome the fear and chase my dreams. I focus on the passion and then live as well as I possibly can. I hope you do too. And if you ever need a confidence boost on the path to living your dream, I hope you try this exercise – it’s done wonders for me.
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