As kids, most of us lived our lives on impulse. If we wanted to create a work of art on the wall in the living room, we got out the crayons and started scribbling until someone came to stop us. If we wanted a cookie and the cookie jar was there for the taking, we stuck our grubby fingers in and ate cookies until we couldn’t eat any more.
Over time, though, we learned (through negative reinforcement) what things were socially acceptable and what things we might get out butts whooped for. Over time, we learned how to ask the question, “should I do this or not?” before taking action. For the most part, that sort of premeditation isn’t a bad thing. It’s important to think things through before you act.
Except when it comes to things like our dreams.
When it comes to deeply personal goals like your bucket list, there is no room for “should.” (Unless you put “rob a bank” on your bucket list, that is.) Since these are your unique dreams, there’s no way you could ask someone for advice on whether it’s OK to do or not. Why? Because they’re not you. If you ask your risk-averse, couch potato best friend if you should take off a week from work to go skydiving in Thailand, she’s probably gonna ask you what drugs you’re smoking.
The appropriate question to ask of your dreams, then, is not should, but how.
‘How’ is an empowering word. It gives you something to do instead of just trying to think your way into action. ‘How’ gives you the freedom to explore your options and ask other people for help, not advice (yes, there is a difference). When you ask ‘how’ instead of ‘should,’ you end up with questions that actually get you closer to your big dream. Like these:
- What’s the first step I can take?
- What ‘s one thing I can do today to move forward on this goal?
- How much money do I need to save before I can do this?
- What resources do I already have that can help me accomplish this goal?
For instance, if you already know you want to quit your job and become self-employed, you’re just wasting time asking all the people around you if you should. It’s more productive for you to start creating a plan for how you can begin to lay the groundwork for that particular goal.
Second-guessing your dreams is the easiest way to guarantee that they won’t come true. You don’t need anymore advice. You just need to get to work.