Are you keeping yourself small?

Not long ago I read a statement that the saddest word is potential. Perhaps this is seen best in others when it is so obvious that who they are in the world could be so much bigger.

The same observation could be made about ourselves. 

After years of working as an employment counsellor, I observed two patterns about people and their dreams: people struggling with dreaming big and others abandoning their dream.

Dreaming big is so connected with keeping ourselves small. Marianne Williamson’s words about our biggest fear of being “powerful beyond measure,” resonates deeply as I think of how people keep themselves small.

What I find intriguing is watching myself in my daily life. Ordinary days are rich with ways I can understand myself. As a solopreneur, there are a lot of ways I can be spending my time; as I scour the Internet, there are guaranteed ways for me to experience success. How do I choose which program to take or coach to hire?

If I am honest with myself, I am not doing the research to explore what might work for me. When I think about it deeply, I am overwhelmed.  I believe there is an illusion that the answer is around the corner.

In the meantime, this is one way to keep myself small.

How do you keep yourself small? When it comes to being unhappy in your work and yet feel perplexed about making the changes that will move you forward, here are some ways you may be keeping yourself small:

1.         You have a dream that has been around for a long time.

You may find the dream appearing on your goals list again and again or popping up in a conversation with a friend. “Oh yes, I had forgot about that.” What you might recognize is a deep longing resurfacing. There is fire in such reactions. You may come to an understanding why this dream is so important to you but in a way it doesn’t matter. Dreams with energy are the stuff of regrets when you are older. I have heard seniors saying it isn’t what they did that they regret, it is what they didn’t do.

What can you do to take your dream seriously?

2.         You find you are spending a good deal of time on what doesn’t really matter to you.

Once upon a time when I was playing Spider Solitaire on a regular basis as a de-stressing activity, I looked at the stats and found I had spent 60 hours playing the game. That was 60 hours of my life. The accumulation of time can be shocking. I was grateful for those game developers in keeping that stat; other activities in my life have no calculator.

Are you spending your precious time engaged in activities that are not enriching your life? 

3.         Another day goes by – you are feeling like you are on a treadmill.

What you come to realize is that a day can be filled easily.  Once I heard that an organization spends 30% of its resources on maintaining its infrastructure.  I suspect this is the same for people. Taking care of business like dishes and errands and laundry can take up all the time in a day. Where is the space for working on your dreams? 

How could you make sure that you have room for dreaming and scheming?

4.         Minimizing the dream.

Following your dreams can be a scary matter. It requires believing in yourself, commitment and a good dose of courage. In a way, it is easier to say that your dream doesn’t really matter. When you dismiss your dreams, you are dealing with a slippery opponent, one that has no business being in your driver’s seat.

How can you make sure that you keep your dream alive?

What I have come to understand is this: My living small does not serve anyone. 

A while ago, I listened to an interview with Pema Chodron and k.d. lang. As they talked about the Buddhist teachings, one of the ideas was around being of service.  Approaching the world from that viewpoint means that we are always aligned with something big.