During last month’s blog “In Due Time”, I mentioned that some of us (really, all of us) have a seed (dr
eam) planted in us...and now is the time to pursue it. It was a pretty awesome blog with a statement about my dream and what I’m going to do for 2023. And, I want to know what you are planning to do too.
So, as I’ve been watering my seed and making sure it gets enough light (in other words, pursuing my dream), I’ve found myself being more anxious and scared than years past. And, when I reflect (review the past) and introspect (examine the inner parts of myself, motivations, triggers, correlations, etc.), I acknowledge that I tend to have an increase in anxiety when I'm pursuing big dreams. In fact, in 2017, my physician prescribed Lexapro to me because I was in the midst of writing my dissertation and pursuing a dream of becoming a doctor. It was tough. I mean, I had a lot of chest pains, headaches, constricted breathing, more easily agitated, and drinking way too much wine (I would drink wine while writing)...and I realized the wine was depressing my nervous system and anxiety…but causing a lot more issues like a fear of dependence on substances (addiction is the main health issue in my family’s history), increase body changes (weight, skin, energy level, libido, etc.), lack of presence in spaces where I needed to pay attention (convo with kids, wife, money management, etc.). So, I decided to take the medication because the life without the medication was causing me to be more anxious…not just about pursuing this dream…but pursuing life in general (not in a suicidal way but more in a mediocre way).
So, here I am, with his big and lofty dream and literally scared AF. Like really scared.
Now, in general, I am a pretty confident person. I mean, most of us are confident in at least 1 main area of our lives. We may not be confident in everything (chile, it's been a process to find my rhythm and my cooking cadence) but there's usually one area of our lives in which we are confident (like academics, or a specific hobby, or being outspoken with our family, or our style and creativity, or even our sensual moves in the bedroom…or car for my Scorpio friends 😊) But yeah, one...at least one. And in those other areas, where we don’t feel as confident…well we tend to accept it and move on or keep trying until we get better. And both can exist at the same time…and both can be healthy decisions, as long as acceptance doesn’t yield to avoidance.
So the question is: What happens when we get scared of a dream…that is actually within our normal realm of confidence? And, that was me in 2018…and apparently me, now.
See, I'm a nerd. School, reading, writing, learning, synthesizing, has always been my jam. I'm confident in those spaces. And, I’ve always been a public speaker. I mean, it wasn’t called that in elementary or high school. But I was always selected to read something aloud during the awards ceremonies at school or church…and I was a top achiever in my speech and debate team. Yet, I am now pursuing a dream as an author and public speaker (both within my area of comfort and confidence) only to find myself scared…anxious, actually.
As a therapist, I’ve gotten into some of the roots of my anxiety - like, what was once a hobby (writing or talking) was now going to have actual weight on my identity, my reputation, my family (and legacy), and my time management and finances. You see, when something is a hobby, you can do it when you want, how you want, and at your own pace…because hobbies are for you…so there is very little at stake with a hobby, and the emotions that we mostly feel are positive. But a lot of times, these dreams are for more than just ourselves and the stakes are higher. We start thinking about the impact and the fact that we can fail. And, who wants to pursue a dream and think about failure. Yet, it seems inevitable. And that instructive thought…that thought of failure…that thought that something that was once light and fun is not a task to be completed, measured, and judged by others…can feel daunting. Well, for me at least…and I suspect it's for you too.
And, sometimes it's hard to, “just move on,” or “get out of your head,” or “just do it.” Sometimes, you (and/or me) need a bit more support to address the fear and anxiety…in a healthy way. Because, what I know is…we will feel really bad if we give up on our dreams because we were scared.
So here are the things I’m doing to address my fears as I pursue my dreams.
I acknowledge the fear.
We have to SEE before we can DO. We have to accept that there is something there before we address and change it. We can’t heal, what we hide (check out the Broke Budgets blog)
I find 1-2 resources that can be helpful to combat the fear.
I didn’t come into this world alone (I clearly needed my mom and dad to make me) and I decided I wasn’t going to live in this world alone. I don’t have all the answers so I don’t pretend that I do. So, I lean heavily on my therapist, Maya…my business coach, Dr. Consuelo Grier, and my Publicist, Jessica Poulin. And, in the past, I leaned on my Physician and my Dissertation Chair.
Humans, as resources, are my go-to, but you may have other resources for your dreams.
I identify and utilize replacement behaviors.
Reading and writing are my hobbies…yet writing a book has more weight. Therefore, I’ve added a few new hobbies to my arsenal so I don’t get burned out from writing and begin to resent it…My replacement hobbies are planting and…talking less (ahahahaha. Bet you didn’t expect that one)
I make reasonable and measurable goals towards my dream.
I wrote a dissertation in 9 months. I spoke with my friends who are authors, and they wrote their books in 6-12 months. I was certain I could write my book in 7 months. And, then, I started tracking my anxiety and realized it was increasing as the dates were getting closer. So, instead of aiming to write my book quickly and changing everything (including priorities) in my life, I decided to give myself grace and add a year to the timeline. So, now the goal is to have a completed manuscript by December 2023 instead of December 2022. And, that feels reasonable (so I'm not rushed, stressed, or resentful) and measurable (because I have a self-made deadline).
I do something daily towards my dream.
Since I know that I’m being reasonable and I have a measurable date, I do something daily towards my goals. It may be as lofty as writing a full element of a chapter (each chapter will have elements) or it may be as simple as jotting down some ideas that could be formulated into a chapter. Or, it could be a prayer for God to open my eyes and let me see the next step. But daily, I do something…so Im productive and avoid procrastination that will make me more anxious…later down the line.
So, here we are…you and me…stating our dreams, acknowledging our fears, and putting plans in place. And we are winning, together.
See you next month! 😊