In my 24 years at Changing Course I’ve grieved the premature death of hundreds of perfectly viable business ideas.
Ideas which were totally possible – some even brilliant.
Ideas which, if acted upon, could have sprung their owners from job jail… and made a difference in the world as well.
But sadly their owner let them perish.
There are two main ways to kill a dream.
Death by Discouragement
For starters, you can believe the life-long cubicle dwellers who love to tell you that being your own boss is just a pipe dream.
Or, you can become so overwhelmed with the thought of acting on your great idea that all you want to do is zone out in front of the television.
Or you can become consumed with the “what ifs.”
- What if no one wants my art, repair service, writing?
- What if I fall flat on my face?
- What if I don’t know enough to be a [fill in the blank]?
That’s what happened to Dave.
Today Dave has a corporate job. But as a child he spent time in foster care
Dave’s dream was to open a sports camp just for kids in foster care.
Family and friends had lots to say about Dave’s dream.
“Never work.” “Too much liability.” “Where would you hold it?”
Sadly, Dave became so discouraged, overwhelmed, and fearful about what might happen if he failed, that he never paused to consider what his life and the lives of the campers would be like if he was successful.
Death by Silence
The most common way to get away with murdering your dream is to keep it to yourself.
After all, if no one ever knows about your big idea they can’t possibly judge it… or you.
If you don’t share your business plan… then no one will know that you didn’t lift a single finger to get it off the launch pad.
If you never let your idea see the light of day, never show your art or share your writing or perform your comedy act… then no one will expect anything from you.
In other words, when you’re accountable only to yourself, then there’s no real consequence for failing to follow through.
Or is there?
When you murder your dream you’ve made the decision to spend the rest of your life in job jail.
If you think that price is too high, then you have a choice.
You can continue to slowly starve your dream to death through sheer neglect.
Or you can decide to get off the misery-go-round.
If you wisely chose the latter, here are two simple steps you can take right this very minute.
Step 1: Publically Declare Your Intention
For five years I produced a fabulous two-day workshop called Work at What You Love which I co-led with my friend and author of Making a Living Without a Job, Barbara Winter.
At the end, I’d ask each person to publicly declare an intention.
One by one upwards of 150 people rose, microphone in hand, and declared their dream to a room full of people.
“I’m going to spend summers living on a river barge in the south of France.”
“I’m going to write the biography of my grandfather’s life.”
“I’m going to open a bike repair shop.”
The ground rules of a public declaration are simple:
- It must be summarized in one sentence.
- It can’t begin with “I’d like to…” or “Maybe I will…” or “It would be great if I could….” Instead, your declaration must begin with the words “I’m going to___”
- It must include a commitment to act.
So you have a choice. You can murder your idea and no one will ever know.
Or you breathe life into your dream by going on to social media or emailing your closest friend and making your own public declaration now.
Step 2: Do your homework
In the beginning, you don’t have enough information to be excited or scared.
You need information.
Who else is succeeding at the thing you want to do? After all, if someone else is doing it, then there must be both a need and a way.
Had Dave done a search for “summer camps for foster kids” he’d have found many examples of thriving enterprises.
A simple online search for “camp insurance” would have led him to dozens of companies that offer quotes for sports and non-sports camps.
As for how to begin, this is just one of many “how to start a summer camp business guides” Dave could have found to get the ball rolling.
Take five minutes now and see just how much you can find out about your dream business.
Step 3: Find people who want to see your idea succeed as much as you do
The forces of fear, self-doubt, and overwhelm are mighty.
That’s why you need a team of people who want to see you realize your dream as much as you do.
People who will be there to support one another, to hold each other accountable for making slow steady progress, to offer new ideas and solutions, to help one another overcome the inevitable setbacks, and to celebrate the wins big and small.
Left on your own and you can feel hopeless.
But when you’re in a group of supporters you feel empowered.
You become almost “bigger” than you usually are.
You feel a confidence that’s sometimes impossible to muster on your own.
Yet with this network of supporters cheering you on, you’re inspired to go on… to plow ahead with a certain audacity that you might not normally feel you have in you.
As importantly, your productivity will soar.
With a dream team behind you, you will get more done in six months than you would otherwise accomplish in six years!
The people on your dream team can be friends, like-minded co-workers, even total strangers. You can meet in person or via conference call.
Regardless of who’s in your group or how you communicate the key is commitment.
After all, a dream is a terrible thing to waste.