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When thinking about your career or business, are you dreaming big enough? Don’t worry – I’m not going to suddenly go all “woo-woo” on you now, but I realized that somewhere along the way, I stopped allowing myself to dream BIG. And if I’m doing it, I bet some of you are as well.

Back in the Day, Dreaming

When I was a young kid, I remember thinking that truly anything was possible. I could do anything, I could be anything. At that time, I wanted to be an Olympic-level gymnast. It’s what seemed possible. I was training hard, spending more time in the gym than anywhere else, and was winning awards at top events.

There wasn’t a question in my mind that I couldn’t do. It’s what I wanted – it was my BIG dream. And I knew exactly how to get there. Hard work, dedication, and keeping “the dream” alive.

But I gave up on that dream. I won’t go into all of the gory details about it, but circumstances (outside of my control) led me to literally turn my back on that dream.

I kept on dreaming big though. My next set of dreams was about college and academic achievement. I wanted to be “smart,” earn good grades, and be responsible. So I went after that dream aggressively – I was a Resident Assistant (yes, the dreaded RA), then Resident Director, and graduated a semester early. That dream easily fit into what I was doing… so it happened.

Enter Corporate Life

I am not sure if I stopped dreaming when I entered corporate life, or if my dreams were just more easily conceptualized. There is a very set path or ladder. You enter at the bottom, you see where the top is, and there are several steps along the way to help get you there.

I know that the corporate ladder is usually not a straight line path to the top – in fact, it shouldn’t be. But I was able to dream with the goal of being the CEO, or more “realistically,” a direct-report of the CEO’s. With that in mind, I let go of any other types of dreams when it came to my work – I knew what the desired end result was, and started doing everything in my power to get there as quickly as I could.

And while I was busy focusing on achieving that, I stopped dreaming. Really dreaming. I had a goal, but I didn’t allow myself to think BIG. I just kept moving forward. Until I couldn’t – and then I dreamed of being my own boss.

The Entrepreneur Dream Begins

I won’t rehash the lack of direction I had when I quit my corporate job the first time around – you know all about that already. But I finally had DREAMS that time around – I have a vision of what I wanted, who I wanted to be like, what I wanted to be known for, how BIG it would all be.

It wasn’t “realistic” by any stretch of the imagination. It wasn’t an easy dream. It was big and scary and all about how much buzz I could get, how much money I could earn, how well-known I’d become. (I know, it doesn’t really sound like me anymore).

My second stab at entrepreneurship, was much different. Instead of dreaming big, I only allowed myself to be realistic. When family members told me that I should be the “next Suze Orman,” or asking me why “I wasn’t featured on The Today Show?” I had this response ready:

“I don’t want to be the next Suze Orman. Do you know how ridiculous it is to think I could be that big? And The Today Show – who are you kidding? That show is the hardest one to get on – you’re not being realistic.”

For the last year, this is the assumption I’ve been working under. My dreams were small – I wanted to work with awesome clients, I wanted to earn a living to cover my expenses, I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, and I wanted to be my own boss. That was it.

And this past week, while I’ve already been working on a great new project (more details to come soon – promise), I was chatting with one of my friends who told me her amazing business growth plan. It was incredible – she had BIG dreams for it, all of which she’s making happen!

I was impressed, excited for her, and of course… totally bummed out for me. I didn’t have anything BIG to share. I didn’t have a larger vision for my own business. I left a lot on the table. My vision was extremely short-sighted. I completely left big audiences, ideas, actionables off the table.

Because I was afraid to dream big.

When you work for yourself, while I would advise you to not take everything so personal, it IS personal. So any big win or big failure, you feel it at your core. And I have had so many “failures,” that I started building BIG protective walls – and told myself what was appropriate to dream about and what wasn’t realistic.

Just another way that I’ve continued to let others’ expectations dictate what was possible for me.

It’s Time to Starting Dreaming Again

Yep, I’ve officially declared dreaming BIG, back on! It’s time that we stop being comfortable in our situations, and being afraid of what we can achieve. Or as I call it, GAME ON!

Ready to join me? I’d love to hear what your BIG dreams are – and/or how you’re going to start giving yourself permission to think BIG.

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