If you want to be more adventuresome, dream smaller. Boo, you might be thinking, that’s not inspiring. But here’s the thing: while big dreams make exciting fantasies, they’re way harder to pull off in this juggling life we lead. Then we just end up berating ourselves for our failure to make them happen. Sure, an accomplished adventurer can ‘live their dream’. We read about it all the time. It’s thrilling stuff. But if you’re a relative beginner in the area of doing things you haven’t yet dared, or if you’re a little rusty, baby steps are your key to success.
Halvorson and others have established that goals that feel both challenging and achievable are far more likely to become reality. And the big bonus:
Once you’ve accomplished the smaller thing, you have new tools and confidence that help you go for the bigger thing.
If you haven’t worked out in twenty years and you suddenly decide to start going to a gym, the personal trainer isn’t going to start you off with 100 stomach crunches. You’re going to start with what you’re able to do and work up to running the marathon or entering weight lifting contests over time. It’s the same with exercising your courage muscle.
Example: Having spent decades singing Bach and the like in choirs, I fantasized about singing lead with a rock band. Not in a big, professional, be-the-opening-act-for-Lady-Gaga way. Just a bar band kinda thing – but still terrifying. Imagine trying to sing Bruce Springstein’s ‘Fire’ like you mean it when you’re a post-menopausal woman who wears cardigans, and you’ll have an idea what I’m talking about. Way outta the comfort box.
Then League of Rock offered a little, doable Sunday afternoon trial session (they put wannabes into bands so you can play at being a rock star). Not only did I not die during this small trial, it was a ton of fun. Given that success, I asked a friend if I could warble with his amateur band. At some point, we might actually face an audience. Bit by bit, my courage and my skills to do this are improving.
It’s not just my experience. I’ve seen this pattern come through in lots of the stories I’ve read from women who have done daring things. So if you want to dream big, start by dreaming small.