Live Your Dreams or Live Your Excuses

I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve had with people who passionately talk about their long-term ideas and dreams, but the conversations always end with ‘soon, oh soon’ or ‘if only.’

I feel like everyone I know has an idea, a concept that floats in and out of their consciousnesses – truly brilliant ideas and concepts that address both current and future needs and gaps. Like Biggie who wants to open a high-end classy Ghanaian restaurant, and Josephine who wants to embellish shoes and manage an interior design shop, RB who wants to start an online Ghanaian grocery shop; and the list goes on. My friends are like incubators of ideas, but we’re guilty of one big thing – most of us are stuck in ideation mode.

I’ve dubbed 2011 the Year of Doing. Every time someone starts to say something to me, I listen to them and say – so do it, 2011 is the year of doing, menn. Just do it (yeah I know, I need to pay Nike for using this phrase as often as I do). Let’s be real though – enough with the talk, people!

I know it’s easier said than done. Most often, we need to be realistic, practical and plan our futures. We can’t just make hasty decisions and throw caution to the wind, but we can’t let practicality hold us back forever, because it can. I’m a huge planner. I feel like I need to plan and script every waking moment of my life. However, for this year, I’ve decided to go for it and take more risks with my future.

2011 is the Year of Doing, and part of my action plan is to drag you (feel free to kick and scream) out of your rut. It’s time to wake up.

Top Five Excuses People Make That Prevents Them From Following Their Dreams

  1. The Economy is bad – Yes it is, isn’t it? It can also be a blessing. It’s a bad economy but you’re still living your life, aren’t you? I’m still watching movies each weekend and I’m still doing 80% of what I was doing three years ago before it all tanked. Even in this recession, there are opportunities that can be capitalized on. It also means there are some resources or inputs that you need that could be cheaper, but if you don’t make an effort to seek out these opportunities or resources, you’ll miss it. Apparently, more millionaires were created during the great depression than in any other time in history! Think on that.
  2. I have a good job that pays me well – I’m not advocating that you leave a cushy job without plan and foresight. I am saying, don’t let your cushy job hold you back forever, especially if it’s not what you want to do and you hate it. Time is short and you can never, ever get it back. Take advantage of your job now and you can do that in several ways – save that money, set aside a little strictly for your future dream; use the resources at your disposal, yes, I mean printing, photocopying and all the other unspoken employee benefits; find creative ways to use the official employee benefits, such as training, school reimbursements, etc; and become a little more interested in the business, what is the business model, what works, what doesn’t. Take advantage of your job and don’t lose sight of the end goal.
  3. I don’t have the money – The top three reasons are all tied to money. Money, money, money. We can’t deny how important it is. And I won’t tell you it doesn’t matter. All I can say is start small. In this day and age of digital, it’s become even easier to do that. I told Biggie that if he wants to own a high-end restaurant one day, he should start a food critic blog and build up the expertise. I told Josephine that if she wants to design or embellish shoes, she should simply buy one pair, design it and then post it on Facebook and solicit responses. Basically, start small. Sometimes, all you can think about is your idea in its complete form. I have an idea I’ve nursed for a while, and I feel like with that particular concept, it would be a waste of time and money to start small, but now I’m rethinking my whole approach. So if your idea seems like a capital-intensive venture, think of variations of that idea that you can start with.
  4. I don’t have the time – Right after the various money excuses are the various time excuses. Trust me, I feel you on this one. Last week, I got home after 9pm consistently each night. Over the last two weeks, I’ve gotten home close to 11pm more than three times. Just this past weekend, I spent all day Saturday and Sunday working on a PowerPoint presentation. I don’t have time. Maintaining my full time job, this blog, and other projects is seriously time consuming. I really don’t have time. It’s not an excuse. I acknowledge it but I don’t let it hold me back. It’s 8:14pm on Tuesday and I’m writing the blog. I thought about postponing it altogether since I couldn’t post on Sunday but nope, 2011 is the Year of Doing. It’s tough to find time to make things happen, but you have to prioritize, that’s the key. Treat your passion or dream like work. When you have an assignment at work, you prioritize and you get it done, because if you don’t do it you could lose your job. Treat your passion the same. Make it a priority.
  5. I don’t know what my passion is or I’m not sure it’s viable – Yeah, this is a tough one, right? Don’t force it. Sometimes when you wait too long to pursue a dream, you forget how passionate you were about it to begin with. But if you feel you’ve never really been passionate about anything, then that’s different. One thing I’ll say is people tend to relegate ‘career passions’ or ‘life passions’ with the creative arts, things like writing, painting, photography, fashion, acting, music, etc. Passion is simply what makes you feel fulfilled, satisfied and truly happy. Passion is what you wish you could do if you had all the money in the world. Passion is what you’d do if you had no responsibility in the world. If the answer is you’d maintain your job now, kudos, you’re passionate about it. Loving a corporate job can be a good thing, don’t feel bad that you love your job and there’s nothing you’d change. Even with that, think about the next steps, what more could you be doing in your role, maybe aim for CEO? No matter how mundane your passion seems (e.g. when you ask people if you had all the money in the world, what would you do, a lot say traveling), you can make a living out of it. If you enjoy it, then it’s not really mundane is it?

So let’s stop with the million and one excuses, shall we? Pick up a pen and paper, or computer and figure out how you can kick that passion or dream off – start small, but please, just start.

Check out the video below. I hope it inspires you. (It takes a moment to load, but be patient, it’s a good piece.)