Take a minute and answer these questions

  1. Why are you in your current job?
  2. Why don’t you spend your free time on your favourite hobbies?
  3. How did you choose what degree to study at university?

To the first question, you might have said, “it pays me enough money” or “I’m unsatisfied but at least I’m settled”.

To the second question, you may have answered “that would be selfish” or “I don’t have free time”.

And to the third question, you might have thought, “my parents told me to build a career in that area”.

These answers highlight what is wrong about many of the decision that we make in life. We do what others tell us or what we think we are “supposed” to do. Unfortunately, the things we want for ourselves, rarely enter the equation.

So how can you make the changes you need to and start living for yourself and doing what you love doing?

Let me start by telling you something that you might not have realised and that is, our negative beliefs are the biggest obstacle between us and our dreams.

If you feel like you’re an undiscovered pioneer lost in the daily grind of a 9-5 job, you need to ask yourself – what’s holding you back? When you get into the nitty gritty of it, it’s most likely that you’re holding yourself back, or more specifically, your negative beliefs are.

“I can’t work for myself because of the financial risk”

“I can’t work for myself because it will be too hard”

“I can’t work for myself because it’s just a silly dream”

Our beliefs are largely based on the messages we have been hearing since we were children. For instance, your parents might have told you that, you can’t be an artist because they don’t make any money. You should do maths or science or history because it’s more respectable and you’ll have a more stable income. Of course they just cared about your future but the more you hear that kind of messaging, the more your subconscious starts to believe it’s true.

And the result? We shy away from those pursuits that we really have passion for – all because you have been convinced that trying to make money in that career is pointless. And you have convinced yourself that you are not good enough. It’s these thoughts and beliefs that keep you from chasing your dreams.

But don’t worry because you can free your positive self from your negative self.

You can start by reflecting on who you are. Try and imagine that you are a reflecting on a different person and talk to yourself as if you were a friend. Admire your strengths and think honestly about all of the good things you could say about yourself.

These honest reflections can be used as the basis for the new positive you. When you believe that you are talented, that your ideas are worthwhile and that you have something tangible to offer the world, the negative beliefs you have held about yourself with start to cease their grip on you and your future. It’s time to discover the person that you want to be and the future that you want to have.

When we are young, we have an intuitive understanding of ourselves and as we do things. But as we age, we stop listening to that inner voice and start listening to what others tell us. To make your dreams a reality, you need to start embracing that inner voice again – not the negative one but the quieter and more positive one that you have kept hidden.

Once you stop caring so much about what other people think (and what your inner critic thinks), you can start to carve your own path.

Maybe you dream of becoming an author. To become an author, you will need to spend a lot of time writing your book. That means making time for yourself and spending much of your time doing that, whilst holding down a full-time job to pay the bills.

Granted, it is not going to be easy. Sometimes friends and family drift away or berate your dream and there our other pressures like finance. But if you want to achieve your dream of becoming an author, something has to give.

Appreciate yourself for what you are doing and you will find the strength to ignore the comments of others. Our inner thoughts are a very powerful thing and if we can change the way we think and believe, we can also change our actions. They lead us to where we are in life and so by starting to allow yourself to even think about what you might want, you have already made a step.

Visualising yourself as the person you want to be is another powerful way to make your thoughts work for you, instead of against you. By acting as if the thing you want is already a reality, negative thoughts cannot hold you back. So you want to be an author? Start calling yourself a writer. Fake it ‘til you make it!

When we hesitate and procrastinate, we let the inner critic and our fear of failure slow us down. Thoughts like “I’m not good enough” will only hold you back so when your inner critic whispers that in your ear, tell it “I am good enough”. You will feel empowered.

From your friends to your habits to your money, start focussing all aspects of your life towards achieving the life that you want for yourself. Too often, people give up on their dreams when they are just one step away from success. Mistakes and failure are part of the journey.

Editor of American Vogue, Anna Wintour, was fired from Harper’s Bazaar because her photoshoots were “too edgy”. In 2008, she was awarded an OBE for her services to fashion. Author J. K. Rowling was famously rejected time and time again by publishers before becoming a bestseller. She was also fired from her job at Amnesty International because she would write stories instead of working. Lastly, the Queen of Pop Madonna was a college dropout and rejected by a record company, who told her that she lacked material.

What I hope these examples show you is that rejection is part of life but quitting is the only real way to fail. It takes strength to push through the hard times but that is how you can start living the life you want for yourself.

Surround yourself with people who support you and have similar passions. Start every day with something that will help you to reconnect with your goals. Explore new places and networks that can help you to push yourself forwards. Give yourself permission to live your dreams!