By Valerie Young
Sometimes signs arrive when you least expect them. On a recent dog walk along the Connecticut River, I spotted a large white sign tacked to a tree on the opposite shore. The sign contained a single word: Start.
This simple but powerful word got me thinking of all the different places someone who wanted to change course could start. Here are 6 tips to get you started on getting started:
1. Start where you are.
The great tennis player Arthur Ashe once said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Let’s say the main thing holding you back is money. You might start by downsizing your life now so when you do take the leap, you’ll be better prepared to earn less in the short term.
Or, you could start by setting up a special savings account to fund your dream. The psychological impact of saving for a dream can be as powerful as the actual monetary earnings.
2. Start hanging out with the right crowd.
A client named Eve had been a teacher for 20 years. Whenever she talked about the things she’d love to do – travel, work with dogs, start a summer camp, her voice would fill with excitement. This initial excitement, though, would though always turn to resignation, “I know this is just a pipe dream,” she’d sigh.
The fact that I never see dreams as unrealistic made me think that Eve was probably hanging out with the wrong people. People who have always worked for someone else tend to have a status quo, play it safe, the only way out is to hit the lottery type mentality. Entrepreneurs on the other hand are possibility people. They think “what if…” and “why not?” and then they go out and make it happen.
Where do you find entrepreneurs? You don’t have to be a business owner to join your local chamber of commerce or another organization like Business and Professional Women (BPW). Even though I’m not an inventor, I joined a local inventor’s group just to be in the company of “yes you can” type people.
3. Start tuning into your gifts
For the record, you don’t have to travel to Ecuador LINK or even leave your home to figure out how to get paid to do what you love.
There are lots of good books to choose from in the Changing Course Bookstore. Two of my all time favorites are Barbara Sher’s Wishcraft and Barbara Winter’s Making a Living Without a Job.
Nor to do you need to spend a lot of money. For example, it costs nothing to start a business idea brainstorming group with friends or via Meet Up.
You can also sign up for one of the very limited free initial consultations with a trained Profiting from Your Passions® Career Coach. It’s a great way to test the waters to see if a full idea-generation session is right for you.
Last, you can sign up to be on the pre-notification list for a fun day-long creative brainstorming event I’m planning in New York City sometime the first week of August called Brainstorm Nation! Sign up here – then watch for details!
4. Start listening more to yourself and less to others.
Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Unfortunately, even in childhood, our dreams too often get dismissed by others.
Once you discover the thing you want to do, do your homework. Then when you are ready to act, heed the advice of a very wise client who said, “listen to your heart because your head will tell you differently.”
5. Start letting go of the idea that everything has to be perfect
Perfectionism is the bane of dreams. So is striving to be the “expert” who has to know everything there is to know about a subject before you can take action. And like perfectionism, striving to be the expert can slow you down or, in some cases, bring your goals to a screeching halt.
Why? Because if your definition of competence is “needing to know everything there is to know” then there will always be one more book to read, one more class to take, one more presentation to make, one more book to write, one more degree to earn before you dare pronounce yourself “qualified.”
6. Start taking action
The important thing is that you must put yourself in a position to be open to possibility. Sometimes changing course happens in phases.
Not quite ready for a big change? Then start small. Read a book, take a course, talk to someone who is doing work you’re drawn to, research how other people are making a living from their love of animals, cooking, writing, travel, art, or wherever your own gifts lie.
If you’re waiting for inspiration to strike first, don’t. As Frank Tibolt put it, “We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.” When it comes to changing the course of your life, the key is always simply to start.