Why We Don’t Go After Our Dreams – and How to Change That (in 5 Seconds)

How many of us have had a dream we’ve done nothing about?

If I were in a classroom now, everyone’s hands would be up.

We all have a dream, something we want to do in our lives. Some of us want to learn another language. Some of us want to travel. Some of us want to go back to school. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or where you live. If you’re a human, you’ve got a dream.

Yet, how many of us actually go after those dreams?

If I were in a classroom now, some hands would be up. Those with their hands up would be nervously glancing around the room to see if they were the only ones. Imagine yourself in this situation. Would you feel happy and proud? Or would you feel guilty?

Motivational writers and speakers Les Brown and Mel Robbins both say that they believe greatness is in everyone, and we have “responsibility to manifest that greatness.”

Imagine if everyone in the world went after their dreams. I believe if everyone did so, the world would be a happier place. Instead of spending time fulfilling society’s expectations or staying at a job that makes people unhappy, they would be doing something they love, and living a life true to themselves. Even when the inevitable challenges come, there would be meaning behind them.

People wouldn’t be without challenges. They’d still need to put in lot of hard work and time. But I’d like to think people would rather put in hard work and time toward something that gives their life purpose.

What dreams do most people have? Most of us aren’t like Elon Musk and trying to build a rocket and land on Mars. I’d like to think most of our dreams are reasonable.

Now, what gets in the way of our dreams?

Look in the mirror. There you go.

Cliché? Yes, but I think we can all agree.

So, how can we conquer ourselves, and manifest our greatness?

That is my personal quest for 2023.

Over the next 11 months, I will be reading one personal development book per month. Maybe two, if I have the extra time. And I will be documenting my journey on this blog. Maybe you’ll want to read along – out of interest, a desire to work on yourself, or for the chisme. Maybe no one will want to read about my journey. That’s fine, too. We need no one’s approval to work on ourselves.

The first book I’ve read in this journey is The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. Here’s what this book’s personal development tool to take away is:

When you have an impulse to do something, you have 5 seconds to do it before your brain tries to talk you out of it.

Count down 5-4-3-2-1, and then GO! Do that thing you want to do.

Our brains want us to be comfortable. Thousands of years ago, this came in handy when we were running from predators.

In today’s world, though, growth happens outside of our comfort zone. The problem is, our brain thinks we still need to run from predators. We’re simply dealing with outdated cerebral software.

So many of us know that we should wake up without hitting the snooze alarm five times.

So many of us know we should get moderate exercise for at least 3 days a week.

So many of us know that we should take the obvious steps toward our dreams. Mel Robbins has pointed out how much of an advantage we have in the 21st century in terms of finding the information we need.

Let’s say you want to open up your own organic keto coffee shop that also serves as a modern art gallery for local artists, and provides modern art workshops. If you have no knowledge of any of these things, the first steps you could take are: read some books about starting a coffee shop, take a business class, research ideas about the décor you’d like to have, talk to a bank about a business loan, and even contact people already in the business of coffee or art and ask them questions.

Do most of us take these first steps?

Sadly, no.

Our powerful yet outdated brains start to talk us out of it.

How familiar does this sound to you?

“Starting my own business sounds so overwhelming.”

“Who would even go to an organic keto coffee shop slash modern art studio? Do people in this town even like keto pastries and modern art?”

“I don’t have time to read these books because I have a full-time job/family responsibilities/school/etc.”

“Who would be willing to talk to me about starting my own coffee shop? Wouldn’t they be mad if I had the audacity to call them and ask for advice, and be their potential competition? They’d think I’m selfish and rude. I won’t even try.”

And we never do anything. Years of our life go by, and we start to resent those who have gone after our dreams. And sometimes, we see someone who dared to go after what we were too scared to do, it’s a hit, and we kick ourselves in regret over and over again.

Don’t be this person. You deserve so much better than this.

Let’s go back to the book The 5 Second Rule. What does this have to do with our dreams?

When we give our brains time to think, we give them time to talk us out of doing what could make us so happy.

But, if we act in 5 seconds or less, without giving our brains a chance to think, then we start going.

And starting is often what requires the most energy. Once we’re moving, we’re good.

And then life starts to happen.

How has the 5 Second Rule helped me so far?

On February 1st, I reached out to someone about an opportunity. I wanted to reach out over a month ago, but I talked myself out of it. “I’m doing a Master’s degree and my student teaching. There’s no way I’m going to have time.” Of course, I’d find a way to make time for it. But the truth was, I was afraid that I was unqualified.

So, I reached out. Turns out that I was qualified for this opportunity, and I should have reached out earlier. I could kick myself, but I won’t. Opportunities are always coming if we know how to look. The next time I see one, it’s 5-4-3-2-1-GO!

I’ve also used the 5 Second Rule to finish a good chunk of my thesis, and hit the snooze button only once in the morning. And I’ve noticed a change in how I think. Now, instead of talking myself out of doing something, I’ll think of the 5 Second Rule. Before I have a chance to think, I stop my brain, and start focusing on how to do whatever I want to do.

The 5 Second Rule is helping me block out the fear, and bring in the solutions.

Challenge 1: Wake up 30 minutes earlier.

Besides writing about personal development and travel (you didn’t think I’d stop writing about my favorite thing in the world, did you?), I’ll be documenting my steps toward applying these personal development books to my life. I’ll share with you the successes, the setbacks, and the trying again. I’m doing this for my own benefit, for accountability, and in case my journey can inspire someone else.

This week’s challenge is to wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual, say 5-4-3-2-1-GO!, and start our mornings. No snooze alarm, no getting back into our warm, comfortable beds.

Mel Robbins says that this challenge is a great way to start applying the 5 Second Rule because: first, it’s hard (it’s the winter – we’d all rather be back in our warm beds, even those of us in the Canary Islands); and two, this task helps shift a change in us. Mel Robbins says that if we can’t take control of how we start our days, then taking control of any other change we want to implement will be a lot harder.

So, this means I’ll have to wake up at 5:30 in the morning for the entire week.

Already I’m sighing in exasperation. Why me?

But why not me? An extra 30 minutes in the morning will give me time to eat breakfast and read, two things I usually claim to not have time for in the mornings.

If you’re curious about my journey, come back next weekend to see how I did. Some journeys may start with a single step. Mine stars with waking up at 5:30 in the morning for one week.

What goals are you leaving aside? What is something you can do to start working on them – in 5 seconds or less? And will you join me in Challenge 1 and wake up 30 minutes earlier?

5 – 4 – 3 – 2- 1 – GO!

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