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“Go after what you want in life and live your freaking dreams!”

That’s what I thought a few months ago when I saw Taylor Swift perform. I was blown away, and her performance still sits in my consciousness, even though it’s been months.

Now, I am not a Swifty; I like her music on the radio, but I’ve never bought or downloaded an album. I only know the songs on the radio. But I must say, it was the most inspiring performance I’ve ever seen. And not just because she’s a great entertainer – there is no doubt that she is – but because I walked away feeling empowered to go after my dreams.

Why?

Her storytelling and unapologetically authentic love for what she does made me want to be better at what I do. I just turned 45 in October; I am reasonably self-confident and walked away feeling empowered. Like I could do anything I put my mind to. And I wanted to go for it!

Now I get why she’s loved. She makes people believe in themselves.

And that’s what I want to do, too.

But let’s face it. Many people are afraid to go after their dreams.

Why?

It’s simple: fear.

Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of judgment. We live in a society where the norm is often mistaken as the ‘right way.’ Deviating from it and chasing something unconventional can invite criticism, uncertainty, and perceived risk. And that, my friends, can be daunting.

How can we overcome this fear and gain the self-confidence to chase our dreams? It begins with understanding our worth and potential. Look inward. Realize that your dreams are valid, your ambitions are worthy, and you, as an individual, can achieve greatness.

To nurture self-confidence, take small steps towards your goals. Celebrate each victory, no matter how tiny. Embrace the journey, as every step you take towards your dream matters. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Now, let’s talk about failure. Failure is scary, right? But let’s reframe how we see it. Failure isn’t the end of the road; it’s a stepping stone, a learning opportunity. Think of the most successful people you know. They didn’t get there without failing numerous times. Each failure brought them one step closer to their dream. So, don’t see it as a stop sign when you fail. Instead, see it as a detour or a scenic route on your journey toward your dream. My biggest failure – the time leading up to and after my overdose in 2006, was the most important time in my life. That time was an inflection point – it’s when I decided to take ownership of my life. It changed me forever and even though it was incredibly painful, difficult and shameful, I am grateful it happened. I am a better person for my mistakes and my failures. But I sure did care about what people might think of me when it happened. That’s why I kept it a secret for so long. Only my mom knew what had happened for many years.

Now for the million-dollar question: How do we stop caring about what other people think as we chase our dreams? Let’s begin by accepting that we cannot please everyone. There will always be naysayers. But remember, you’re not chasing your dream for them. You’re doing it for you. You are the author of your life’s story, so why let someone else hold the pen? And guess what? The number one regret of those on their deathbed is that they wished they would have had the courage to live the life they wanted, not the life others expected of them.

When it comes to criticism, learn to filter. Constructive criticism can be a valuable tool for growth. But naysayers, those who only criticize without adding value, those voices need to be turned down, if not completely muted. This is your dream, your journey. Own it!

Remember, going after your dreams requires courage, resilience, and a certain level of stubbornness. So, embrace your fears, build self-confidence, learn from your failures, and don’t let others dictate your path. The road to your dreams might be long and winding, but it is worth it!

Want more inspiration on how to own your life and leadership? Please consider ordering my book, The Ownership Mindset, on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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