I’ve been keeping a journal since September 2002. I don’t write in it every day and its pages lack the titillation and gossip associated with some diaries. However, over the years, it’s been a vital companion as I’ve transformed myself from lonely, directionless, psychosomatic illness suffering young man to confident, driven and dream achieving adult.
My journal is handwritten and spread across multiple notebooks. I’m not a huge fan of technology and, since I started in 2002, before the proliferation of laptops or terms like ‘digital nomad’ ever existed, it just seemed like the easiest thing to do.
As a result, a few years ago, I found myself with a mountain of notebooks – about 18 in total – and a slight concern about what would happen if they were damaged or lost. To pre-empt this problem, I decided to transcribe every one of them into Word.
Recently, I reached Thursday 25th October 2007. Why is this date significant?
Fortunately, he gave it his seal of approval and offered to mentor me through the writing process. However, it was still early days and I had many doubts about the validity of what I intended to do.
My main concern was my sanity. Was I crazy for pursuing a dream to become a best-selling author? Furthermore, what right did I have to think I could write something that good or become that influential?
After all, I was a nobody. I hadn’t been blessed with exceptional writing talent and I had no audience or following to speak of.
Instead, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to say I was delusional. With my degree in Politics, and having two parents who were lawyers, my focus should have been on forging a professional career. Instead, at the age of 27, I had the audacity to believe I could dispense life advice and write a self-help book.
At this point, it’s probably best I hand you over to my younger self. Read the following entry and I’ll then address some of the questions and fears that every dream chaser will face.
Thursday 25th October 2007
I’m feeling a little frustrated with my life at the moment. The inability to move my life forwards is raising some doubts in my mind. I’m starting to wonder if I’m on the right path or whether, in fact, I’m crazy.
Usually, I’d respond to these thoughts by thinking that I should ditch everything I’m doing – coaching, hypnotherapy, book – and live a conventional life. However, now, I can feel my attitude changing.
I realise that this is a battle within me and running away to a conventional life won’t change a thing. I’ve got to overcome these demons inside me and I’ll be faced with these wherever I go.
I’ve come a long way with my book but am I being unrealistic? My goal for the book is for it to become a bestseller and make me a millionaire. What are the chances of that happening?
My curse, or blessing, is that I have an overwhelming desire for something greater than the ordinary. I know I won’t be satisfied with anything less. However, greatness isn’t easy to achieve and I’m putting my whole life on the line in its pursuit. Relationships with women, and money, have been indirectly sacrificed as a result of what I’m doing and who I’ve become.
What’s your dream? If it’s anything outside the remit of what society considers normal, or appropriate for someone of your background or education, then you’ll have, undoubtedly, experienced the same uncertainties that I went through. How will you handle them?
First, you must understand that it’s perfectly normal to feel this way. The way you choose to live your life, and the goals you’re chasing, are different to over 95% of the people around you.
It’s hard being on the wrong side of this statistic. You may feel arrogant for assuming you are right and the majority are wrong. Furthermore, you may question your judgement. Despite your instincts telling you one thing, it can be hard to stay true your dreams when the people around you are telling you another.
This dichotomy can create doubt about the validity of your dream. You might think nobody will accept what you’ve created or have to say. If this doubt intensifies, you might catch yourself echoing society’s thinking as you challenge yourself with recriminations like, “Who am I to think I know better than others? There’s nothing special about me.”
Thinking this way can be a death sentence to your dream. I’ve already mentioned that I began writing my book in 2007.
When do you think it was published?
5 years later!
When did I first have the idea of writing it?
5 years earlier!
Do you get the point?
Self-doubt is a bitch and will destroy your dream. Or, if it doesn’t destroy it, it will cause such a delay that you miss out on many years of living it.
For these reasons, the first thing you must do if you ever question your sanity is to give yourself some breathing space. Remember, it’s understandable to feel a little daunted by having a dream that, in its infancy, other people may not believe in or understand. However, you must never allow this uncertainty to turn into doubt.
Know that you are right for wanting to pursue a path that brings inspiration and love into your life and has the potential to do the same for others. This is how humanity, the planet, and perhaps even, the universe, moves forwards. Inspired individuals, and groups, bring light into the world and, by doing so, cast out the shadows of fear, hatred and confusion.
Martin Luther King immediately springs to mind as an example of a man who went through this process. At first, he must have thought his dream for racial harmony in 1950s and 1960s America was crazy. However, by staying true to his path, he illuminated the minds of millions and helped foster love and understanding throughout an entire nation.
Following your dreams is, perhaps, the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Undoubtedly, you’ll face many moments like the one recorded in my diary above (I still do).
When experiencing them, there’ll be a strong temptation to think about returning to the world you used to know. My knee jerk reaction to facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, or failing to advance, used to be thinking about quitting tennis coaching, hypnotherapy and writing, and retraining to be a lawyer or a teacher.
At the time, it seemed like the easy way out. However, who’s to say turning your back on your dream and following society’s path will actually be easier or provide the reprieve you’re seeking?
Actor and comedian Jim Carrey makes this very point when giving a speech to the graduates at the University of Mumbai at their commencement address in 2014. When mentioning his father, who also had dreams of becoming a comedian yet chose to work as an accountant, he had this to say (click on video below).
Are you ready to take that chance?
If you do, just remember that the battle you must fight, and the journey you must travel, are within. To a degree, the external world doesn’t matter and neither do your dreams (after all, they can sometimes change and be refined).
What does, though, is that voice within you that wants to experience, and express, all forms of love. This must be heeded and, if it’s telling you to take a course of action, even if it’s one society deems crazy, then you must follow. It’s the only path to inner peace I know.
(image taken from Anthony Starks’s photostream on Flickr)
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