“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”
Sarah Ban Breathnach, Author, “Peace and Plenty”
A few years ago, on a lazy Sunday afternoon on the Upper West Side of New York, I found myself reminiscing with two old friends in a small crowded diner. Talking about times past, one friend recalled a moment in time, over a decade earlier, when I had just moved to Los Angeles. He reminded me of a comment I made sitting on the bare floor of my new rented studio apartment: “I feel so lost. I feel as though I’ve been placed in the middle of this huge forest, with no compass, no guidance and no way of knowing how to get out.”
You see, in that moment of time, I was faced with a professional rejection that felt very personal. It ran me off of the perfectly structured course I had designed for myself. It was very hard for me to overcome the constant negative thoughts in my mind. Over time, I found my way out of the “forest” and accomplished all of the things in my young adulthood that I wanted to, just in different ways and journeying down more challenging paths.
Being reminded of my long ago comment made me realize that, although I had accomplished the goals of my young adulthood, I made it very, very difficult for myself because I was letting the past affect my present. I was still holding on to that fear of rejection and failure like a bad friend who has betrayed me one too many times. I needed to change my mental models, my internal symbols and representations of my external reality.
According to “Trends in Cognitive Sciences”, Byrne and Johnson-Laird explain that “mental models are based on a small set of fundamental assumptions” and that individuals can “infer that a conclusion is valid if it holds in all the possibilities.” And if failure was a reality for you in the past, it is certainly a possibility for you in the present and future. But on the other hand, so is success, and we often do not let our mental models perceive that possibility. It’s just simply harder to do.
There are many, many goals I have for the near future and beyond. And instead of talking about my dreams and goals, I realized that I have to be about them. I encourage you to let go of any fear you may be holding onto (and the laziness that often accompanies it) and be about pursing your goals. Don’t look to anyone else to encourage and motivate you to start doing – that is all up to you. As Henry Ford once said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”
My two dear friends from the diner and I have let go of residual fears, and are living successful lives that we are passionate about. It is not always easy, and often times laziness will trump vigor, but that’s really all up to you, now isn’t it?
What are your personal and professional goals? How will you positively align your mental models to implement them? Make today the day you get out of your own way and start doing!
Too many times we let our goals become mere dreams. I know I have let that happen more than once and when goals become dreams they eventually fade away. Gandhi said “you must be the change you wish to see in the world” and I think that applies to an individual life as well.