The difference between dreamers and doers can best be summarized in a set of characteristics: tolerance for risk and comfort with uncomfortable.
Everyone has dreams. Everyone wants to be something a little different or better. Everyone wants to contribute to a common good. Many people even take it a step farther and label their dreams as a life passion, calling or purpose. They create vision boards for where they want to be and even journal about a better life for them and their families.
“I really want to get a new job”
“I really want to go back to school”
“I really want to devote my life to something bigger and better”
“I really don’t want to be stuck in an eight-to-five grind”
Where these dreams come to a crashing halt for many is at the blinking-light intersection of risk and comfort.
“But I don’t want to give up my daily Starbucks”
“I’m can’t tell my wife I’m quitting my job to open my own business”
“The classes and studying will put a burden on my family time”
“I’m not about to start at a position lower than my last one”
Risk aversion can certainly become an evil little voice that continually reminds you of the potential for failure and all the negative “what ifs”. Sadly, this voice rarely speaks to the potential positive outcomes associated with a leap towards your dreams or reminds you of the great satisfaction of doing what you were placed on this rock to do. Highly successful people use self-talk to silence or reduce the impact of the voice of doom and actively replace it with the positive outcomes of risk taking. Not that anyone should blindly leap into the unknown but the reminder that all unknowns have an equal or greater chance of being successful as becoming a failure. The risk aversion voice also tends to overstate the failure outcomes as being horrible when in fact, they are nothing more than learning opportunities and everything is recoverable.
Comfort aversion is as damaging as risk aversion to living a purposeful and fulfilling life. Now there is nothing wrong with being comfortable but over-emphasis on comfort will keep you in a complacent, non-growing, non-achieving spot. The comfort lie tells us that some of our creature comforts and vanity desires have become needs. The BMW instead of a Camry, Starbucks instead of Folgers, gated community instead of two-bedroom apartment, Ivy League instead of community college, designer purse over the JC Penny’s version. Again, successful people will truly understand the difference between a core need and those items that simply create comfort. Interestingly, those people in life that have failed and restarted several times have a clearer view of what is really needed versus those comforts that sometimes serve as obstacles to achieving our dreams.
Below are a couple of tactics to help improve risk and comfort tolerance:
- Identify What is Really a Need Versus a Want
Look at basics. Return to an earlier time in your life and describe how you survived and with what.
- Take Small Risks
Develop risk tolerance by beginning with smaller risks prior to a big leap. Note or journal the lessons from failures and the ease in overcoming and recovery.
If you want to achieve a dream or purpose, commit to a course of action complete with timelines and measurable milestones.
Don’t be afraid to share your dreams with others. Seek the support needed to reduce risk and get buy-in on changes to comfort. Quite simply, ask the kids if they are okay with no cable TV or moving to a smaller house.
- Track Progress
Monitor, track and report your progress towards your dream. Vision posters are nice but a formal system to track progress is where achievement rests.