“Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine.”Roy T. Bennett
Do you ever dream of quitting your job and following your dreams, do that thing in your heart you’ve always wanted to do?
And, yet, something is holding you back. You’re afraid you don’t have what it takes. You’re afraid you’ll fail and make a fool of yourself. You’re afraid of making the wrong call and pursuing a dream that may never go anywhere.
I know because I’ve been there. I’ve dreamed of becoming a writer for as long as I can remember. Yet, I’ve let all these fears hold me back for 15 years.
That’s how long it took me to build the confidence to follow my dream. And once I did, I kicked myself in the butt for not taking the plunge sooner!
I don’t want the same to happen to you. You have a purpose to fulfil on this planet and the sooner you start to pursue it, the richer and happier your life will be.
How I Followed My Dreams
I’ve always had a pen in my hand. As a little girl, I’d scribbled all my thoughts and dreams in my secret diary, pen short stories about what my toys were up to when I was sleeping, and write articles for a women’s magazine I’d distribute to my family members.
But, as I grew up and realized that writing wasn’t a real job, I put my pen aside and studied to become a teacher. I thought it’d be the perfect fit for me: I’ve always had a desire to help people and share ideas that can help improve their lives.
But, something was missing in my life.
It was only when I started my beauty blog that I realised how writing really matters to me. Little did I know, that decision would forever change the course of my life…
Step 1: Rediscovering My Passions
I started Beautiful with Brains in the summer of 2008. I thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to combine my passion for writing with my love for all things beauty and make new friends along the way.
I kept it a secret from everyone I knew in real life. I was afraid they’d criticize my writing skills (I knew I was rusty), think the things I wrote about were shallow, and tell me I was wasting my time.
But I kept writing because I enjoyed it. The more I wrote, the better I felt. Instead than hitting the snooze button every morning, I’d wake up earlier, excited to post another article before my daily commitments took over.
My writing improved, too. People started emailing me to tell me how much they enjoyed my articles and my fun, no-nonsense approach to beauty.
Maybe there was something here?
Step 2: Developing New Skills
I knew that if I wanted to turn my hobby beauty blog into my full-time job, I needed to develop new skills.
My writing was good enough – and something I practiced every day. But I had no idea how to build a business, market my blog and make money from it.
I started taking online business and blogging courses that’d teach me all the skills I needed to take my blog to the next level.
I started adding ads and affiliate links to my blog, redefined my niche, and got serious about using Pinterest to attract new readers.
I’m not gonna lie: in the first few months, my traffic barely grew and I made almost no money. Once I paid my hosting costs for a year, there was nothing left.
But I was committed. I knew that if I showed up every day, kept doing the work, and mastering new skills, the results would come.
It happened sooner than I thought…
Step 3: Taking The Leap
By this time, I was working as a personal assistant to an up-and-coming fashion influencer in London… and hated every second of it.
My original plan was to keep the day job until the blog grew enough to replace my entire monthly salary. But things came to a head sooner.
Let’s just say I was asked to do something that went against my values. I had a choice: do I stick to the original plan and suck it up for a few more months or do I take a pay cut and quit now?
My blog was now making enough to pay for basic expenses, like rent and food. But I knew things would be financially tough for a while…
I did it. I took the leap and quit the day job.
I was terrified. And more committed than ever. Without that safety net, I didn’t have the luxury to procrastinate or do busy work (you know, the routine tasks that don’t move the business forward).
I doubled down on what was working for me – creating articles that solved my readers’ problems (and had lots of affiliate links) and promoting them on Pinterest.
Three months later, I was making more money than at my old job!
Let’s be clear: I’m not saying you have to quit your day job now. If my blog hadn’t made at least enough to pay my rent, I’d have looked for another day job before quitting.
There’s following your dreams and there’s being irresponsible. Just saying…
But you have to take the leap before you’re ready. Because you’ll never be ready. You’ll always have doubts and insecurities trying to hold you back.
I recommend giving yourself a target. Maybe it’s a earning a certain amount with your side hustle three months in a row. Maybe it’s a six month period to master new skills.
Whatever it is, when you’ve reach it, take the leap. You won’t regret it.
How To Build The Confidence To Follow Your Dreams
Wondering how you too can find the confidence to follow your dreams? Here’s what helped me:
1. Silence Your Inner Mean Girl
Your Inner Mean Girl is that nasty voice in your head that tells you you don’t have what it takes to follow your dreams, makes you second guess every choice you make, and worries about what other people say about you.
If you want to follow your dreams, you need to silence your Inner Mean Girl. Or, better yet, get her on your team.
Truth bomb: your Inner Mean Girl is just trying to keep you safe. From the sting of criticism. From the pain of failure. From the heartache of loss.
Thank her for her concern, and then gently tell her you’ve got this. You’re a big girl and you can deal with it. Everything will be alright in the end.
Treat yourself – and your Inner Mean Girl – like you would treat your BFF.
Trust that you wouldn’t have this dream if you also didn’t have what it takes to make it happen.
Be compassionate when you make a mistake. Accept you’re gonna screw up, things will take longer than you planned, and that not everyone will understand what you’re doing. That’s ok.
Don’t know how to silence your Inner Mean Girl? Click on the image below to download the “Silence Your Inner Mean Girl” cheatsheet to turn your inner critic into your biggest supporter.
2. Keep Learning
Sometimes, you don’t get started because you have no idea how to make it happen.
Maybe you dream of becoming a writer, but you have no idea how to find a publisher for your books. Maybe you want to start a business, but you haven’t got the slightest idea how to find your first few clients. Maybe you want to become the creative director at your magazine, but you lack the necessary qualifications.
That’s ok. No one is born knowing everything. But everyone can learn everything. Take a course. Find a mentor. Read a few books on the subject. Ask someone for help.
I’m not a techy person and had no idea how to set up a blog. So I spent a month reading everything I could about it until I was confident enough I could do it without breaking anything. Problem solved.
3. Take Imperfect Action
It’s ok to learn as much as you can. But, at some point, you have to put what you learn into practice.
Truth bomb: knowledge without action is useless.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. No one gets it right or perfect the first time. The important thing is to just start, do something.
Confidence comes from action. The more you do something, the better you get at it, the more confident you feel.
And if you fail? That’ll teach you you can fix your own mistakes. It’s a confidence booster, too.
Over to you, now. How do you build the courage to follow your dreams? Share your thoughts in the comments below.