7 Smart Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success

Nail them before you go chasing your dream.

Image by Syaibatul Hamdi from Pixabay

You’re ready.

You’ll quit your job and do what you were Born to Do: take a new path, be your own boss, travel the globe, make money in your sleep, have the freedom you crave, make the world a better place.

Sounds good, right? I’ve seen lots of people excited by such plans; I’m all for people designing lives that suit them, of being bold and using their precious time in their own way.

But it’s not that simple. For every person who steps up to the dream plate and smashes it out of the park, there are hundreds — thousands — more who strike out.

So, before you suit up, check you’re fully in the zone, that you’re as well-prepared as it’s possible to be.

7 Smart Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success

1. You’re mentally ready to Go Bold.

Chasing your dream is not just about quitting your job — quitting your job (or getting rid of something you don’t like) is just quitting your job. It’s fine to quit your job if you’re in a position to take a risk financially and personally. Or if you’re burnt out and need a change. But check that you’re not more in need of a rest than the challenge of something new — and probably precarious. If you’re going to do something big and bold, you need to go in with a clear mind and a full tank.

2. You’ve done the technical training.

You’re not jumping in cold — you’ve been dipping your toe into your new venture for a while now. Just like in sports, you need to build the knowledge, skills and stamina for whatever you’re going to do. You don’t have to have a 75-page business plan but you need a clear idea of the direction you’re heading in and the first steps you intend to take.

Break your potential leap into three phases: (1) run up (have you got sufficient skill/knowledge?) (2) timing (does your timing suit you, your market and the people you care about?) and (3) positioning (do you have the basics of what it takes all nailed down?) Do you feel solid with all three of these.

3. You’ve done the money maths.

Having no money sucks. Only people who’ve been poor know the harsh truth of this: I don’t know anyone who has actually managed to “live off the smell of an oily rag.” You need less money, and possessions, than you think to live, but you do need some. You need to eat things other than 2-minute noodles. So be honest with yourself about your finances: beware of making yourself so poverty-stricken it hurts.

4. You really LIKE what you’re going to do.

Too many people step out into their “dream world” and find they don’t like it — or they only like the creative bit. It hard to watch someone go after a dream or launch a business then find they don’t like what it involves or they don’t like the lifestyle that goes with it. Ask people who’ve been there before you; as far as you can tell in advance, make sure you’re suited to it.

5. You’re not just trying to be different.

It’s cool to want to do things your own way. But check in on your true motivation for going after your dream. Wanting to be different, to go against the status quo, is not enough on its own. Knowing HOW you want to be different (and WHAT you will have to do to achieve it) is much better foundation.

6. You’re wired to cope with LONELY.

A lot of people say — yeah, I’m good with spending time by myself. I need it, I prefer it, it gives me energy and time to fill my own tank. But there’s a world of difference between choosing to spend time on your own and being lonely. Doing your own thing can have a high Loneliness quotient. Some people are just not wired for it and it can be a struggle mentally. Even if you like time on your own, make sure you maintain your important relationships and you build, and keep in touch with, a good social network.

7. You can’t NOT do it.

You just can’t, okay? If you don’t try, you won’t be able to look yourself in the eye. You hope it turns out as you, well, dreamed — but you’re up for doing it anyway. You have one life — and this is how you want to spend it.

Thanks for reading! Join my email list here if you’re interested in practical psychology for everyday life.

Clinical psychologist, writer. Editor of On the Couch: Practical psychology for everyday life. karen@onthecouch.co.nz

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