How to Follow Your Dreams in 15 Steps
How to Achieve Your Dreams With No Support or No Money
I finally realized the secret ingredient to success. We've all heard the expression "Fake It 'Til You Make It." Yes, this is true, but the most important aspect of this saying is making sure you believe in yourself. If you believe in you, others will too, no matter what it is you are trying to do in this lifetime. I know because I've been there.
Perhaps you want to become a photojournalist, maybe you want to kickstart a startup—you may have dreams of becoming the next big YouTuber, revolutionizing the world with a new philosophy, traveling the world working with animals, or writing your book. A lot of great high-achieving people were in your shoes too—they had no support. I've been there too. This is what I learned to live by:
How to Achieve Your Dreams
- Fake It and You Will Make It
- Play the Part
- Delight in Rejection
- Trust the Universe
- Find a Mentor
- Follow Through
- Make Yourself Important
- Be True to Your Reputation
- Give a Little to Get a Lot
- Ignore the Haters
- Invest the Time
- Have a Portfolio
- Be Flexible
- Keep Dreaming Big
You Can Be Great Even Without Support
Your definition of support may be financial, may refer to your parents, your family, your husband or wife, your children, your coworkers, your business partner, or major investors . . . no matter who or what you define as your "support," the good news is that there are solutions: You are your biggest force.
I recently resigned from my career working with animals full-time to start a film project on marine life conservation. When I finally left my job, I used my hard-earned money to attend a huge film conference with some of the big players. I was totally clueless about the industry, but I made myself a "media" business card, planned out my professional outfits, and showed up. Here's how I got my foot in the door and started to pursue my dreams.
Not trying is the easiest way to fail.
1. Fake It and You Will Make It
You need to wake up and tell all those voices in your head—your negative self-talk and those closest to you—that you are done. It doesn't matter who thinks what of your ideas. The greatest achievers in the world pursued their dreams and passions when everyone else thought they were crazy.
You need to start identifying with your future. If you are passionate about photography, start following and being influenced by photographers. Surround your living space with things, images, and related propaganda that convinces you every morning you wake up what it is you are trying to achieve.
2. Play the Part
Get yourself a business card. You need to sell yourself every minute you are out there. It doesn't matter if you are shy—I was. I literally had severe social anxiety, especially when I thought about talking to big people in the industry. When you start to feel shy, look back inside yourself and think about how much you believe in you! It is your job to communicate that to the outside world.
Check out websites like Moo.com. They make great business cards for fairly cheap (they look super professional) and have professional designs to choose from. What you present on the outside will only feed your success.
3. Delight in Rejection
Rejection is actually great. First off, get past the sensitivity to it. Let me remind you, Oprah was rejected many times before she found her path. Steven Jobs quit college to do great things. Rejection actually drives success, and it drives you in the right direction.
For instance, I've been rejected from receiving grants for my film project. I've even had my stories rejected—only to have publishers come back to me and ask if I wanted to write it! No joke. If you don't get that grant money, maybe there's a reason for it. Maybe there are strings attached, or the timing isn't right. You need to trust that the universe has your back.
4. Trust the Universe
Yes, the universe has your back. You need to trust in timing. Sometimes the biggest challenges allow us to do the biggest growth. I had a friend who was rejected from veterinary school her first year applying. She was totally qualified in so many ways (academically, resume), but she was young and needed more social development.
I convinced her over and over that she would be fine and that sometimes you just need to be tested. Sure enough, she got in her next year and is now working full-time as a licensed veterinarian.
Trust that the universe has your back. The timing might not be right, and it might look better a month or a year from now. I've seen this happen in my life . . . far too many times to detail.
5. Find a Mentor
You need to find a mentor that you can trust. If you have great ideas, you want to be smart about how much you share, but if there is someone in the industry who can offer you guidance, go with them and give them a little reward as your advisor.
I work with a more experienced film producer sporadically. We often meet up and have chats with each other via video conferences. We are both of the same age, similar demographic, and they often give me industry advice.
You need to find someone like this. Don't find someone so far out of your league that you will exhaust them (because they are so busy doing "bigger and better things"). Find someone who is a little further along than you but someone who will show you similar respect. Offer them carrots along the way, like mini projects, mini freelance jobs, compensation for their time, etc.
6. Follow Through
You need to show up and show people you are serious. When I was first launching my conservation project, I thought people would see right through me and blow me off. Stop thinking that way. When you make an appointment or propose keeping in touch with someone, you have to follow through. Demonstrate to everyone how serious you are. Be annoying (not too annoying) to show people you mean business.
7. Make Yourself Important
That's right. This goes along with fake it 'til you make it. Make yourself an online presence (start small, it takes time). Websites like Squarespace and Wix will set you up with a professional template and a cheap domain name. You need to create a presence so that when people look you up you have some clout.
When you attend conferences, introduce yourself and be serious. Don't be overwhelmed by the big dogs—too much praise and admiration can actually lessen your value in their eyes (truthfully). Your time is just as valuable as anyone else's.
8. Be True to Your Reputation
You want to maintain a "good" or consistent reputation. By "good" I don't mean perfect, composed, and classy—unless that's what you're going for. If you are an advocate for women's rights, feel free to be vocal and even reactive, just be sure to stay consistent and engage with people, things, and events that support this belief. If you are a wildlife advocate, for example, don't follow designers that use fur, leather, and rare animals for luxury clothes on Instagram. Simply, be mindful.
9. Give a Little to Get a Lot
Unfortunately, many of us who are dreaming big have to work hard to get our feet off the ground. So many great people had to invest some of their own money into themselves before making it big. This is true for business as well. If you can, I highly encourage that you start looking for funding.
If you have a strong mission in mind, look for grant opportunities. If you need to get your business off the ground, establish a means of passive income. Looking into crowdfunding. Maybe you decide to put away $100 every month (cut that gym membership you never use) and save up for a vlogging camera. I've even sold some of my belongings to afford plane tickets to conferences, etc. Do what you have to do to survive and make it.
Part of succeeding is being adaptable. Adaptability equates to survival. Be resourceful, take your opportunities, and keep an open mind.
10. Ignore the Haters
As you're becoming great, some people are going to try to bring you down. These people are either jealous or live in fear. They either wish they had dreams and aspirations like you do, or they simply don't like to see people succeed. Recognize these people, and keep them at bay.
When I was pursuing my crazy ideas, I had a lot of pushback from my parents and often times felt "crazy" in my coworkers' and classmates' eyes. This is totally normal and totally B.S. No one knows what you're capable of but you. Silence the negativity. Compartmentalize those people in a little box, and let your dreams be outside of that box. It's fine to keep them in your life, but just laugh them off when they add their opinion. They don't know.
11. Invest the Time
You need to give up some of your free time to make it big. That means that if you want to work with animals, start interning one day a week on the weekend. If you want to start a baking business, open a booth at the farmers market every other weekend. If you're a photographer, do a couple of photoshoots for free to add to your resume. Same thing if you are a writer.
When I first started writing for my dream publication, I volunteered my story and my time. I didn't take pay. But, I did prove myself as a writer and the doors opened up. I now am able to approach people and have a resume to show. It's time you do too.
12. Have a Portfolio
You need a portfolio no matter what it is that you are doing. If you are designing products, you need something to show. If you are an advocate for children's education, you need to keep track of all of the events you participated in. Your portfolio is essential, so be sure to document everything.
I volunteered hundreds of hours at wildlife centers—this included training sessions. Keep the papers you collect from the training and events and use them to create, write, maintain, or assemble your portfolio.
13. Be Flexible
For the longest time, I had my eyes set on a particular nature publication. I thought, "This is it—nothing else." Months through my development, I came across a new publication. When I picked it up off the shelves, I thought it was the most incredible nature magazine I had ever seen. I held onto that publication for 1-2 years before I finally got up the courage to ask the editor if I could write for them. A year later, I am still writing for them, and every person who comes across the publication has nothing but praise.
If your dreams point you in another direction, roll with it. You have to be flexible. Part of succeeding is being adaptable. Adaptability equates to survival. Be resourceful, take your opportunities, and keep an open mind.
14. Keep Dreaming Big
This is the most important tip of all. Never, never, and I repeat, NEVER let go of your dreams. Ok, so you are afraid of failure? Things are getting tough? You think it's impossible? Nonsense. Nearly every great achiever has been there. Let go of your fear. It's toxic. Keep your dreams in mind at all times, keep your eye on the prize. Hard work DOES pay off. So stick to it, develop your resilience, and keep plugging along. You will get there!
15. Never Give Up
This last one is pretty simple. People who made it never gave up and didn't let "no" deter them. No matter what and no matter how long it takes, keep pushing. Do what you came here to do in this lifetime. Good luck.
© 2018 Layne Holmes