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What does that even mean? Do you have to be brave and courageous to achieve your dream of making it to the nationals/world championships/Olympics? You love what you do – it makes your heart sing (when everything’s going well) so what does it mean you have to have the courage to pursue your dream?

Well that’s just it. It takes guts/courage/bravery to keep going when it isn’t going well. When you train hard and then get injured so all you can see ahead is a big chunk of time when you can’t train and which (in your view) is taking you further away from your dream.  When you build up a great working relationship with a coach and then they retire, or move away.

People talk about goals all the time – you need to set goals for training, for your exams, for life, for your finances (saving for that holiday), but they don’t tell you why or how in a way that truly matters and makes the difference between giving up on a dream and achieving it.

Let’s come back to saving for that holiday. It’s easy to see that a tiny bit saved here and there will eventually accumulate enough for you to go on that holiday where and when you want. You started with the end in mind – you wanted the holiday. You visualised yourself there on the beach, up a mountain or on the water, with the weather just perfect for the activities you had planned.  You decided when you wanted to go, creating for yourself a deadline by which time you needed to have saved enough and got all the practicalities, preparation and packing done.  Then you think about how much you need to save and where the money is going to come from – and how you will meet your other commitments and still be able to put a little away.

Training goals work in exactly the same way. You need to start with your big vision and work backwards to now.  Where do you want to get to with your sport/life/dream? When do you want to arrive at that destination – what’s your deadline? What are the resources you will need in place to make it happen?

I’ve been running Ice Cool Confidence for nearly six years now. It isn’t where I wanted it to be and my vision of how I wanted it to look in five years’ time isn’t what it is. But I take responsibility for a large part of that – there were opportunities along the way which required more courage than I had. I may teach confidence but even I’m not completely immune to the occasional cloud of self-doubt. When I could/should have grasped big and exciting challenges, ‘little me’ (impostor syndrome) got in the way. And If I didn’t believe in myself, who would? So occasionally, the big fish got away because I didn’t believe I could catch it. I didn’t have the courage to pursue that particular dream.

Should I blame the people who wanted all my knowledge and advice for free? Or who valued sparkly bits of material above something less glamourous which would help them progress? Or who didn’t knock on my door for help? Or remember to factor me in to their skate-camps or workshops (their loss)? I know there is always something more I could have done to make it happen if I really wanted it to. If I really set my mind to it. If it truly was my dream…

So there’s the thing. Sometimes what you think you want might be more a case of what others are expecting you to want. We often see success, achievements through the eyes of others. Everyone expects that an athlete will want to go to the Olympics, so the athlete supposes that’s his or her dream. But it might not be. You might want to perform rather than compete – or teach rather than train, or write about it, or create films about it. Just because the sport is your passion right now, doesn’t mean the natural peak of achievement is an Olympic gold medal.  When you start a business people tend to equate success with high income. I don’t. Success for me is seeing the hundreds of youngsters (and adults) I’ve coached and helped, find their courage again, using what they’ve learned to go off and achieve their dreams happily and with confidence.

To work out what I truly want I have to “Remember the Why”. My reason for doing what I do. I love meeting people, listening to them and helping them to see what they think of as obstacles as opportunities. Help them to find ways to break down barriers and achieve what’s right for them. I don’t love the selling or marketing which my accountant expects of me as a mark of success in my business, but if I want to continue doing what I want to do, it’s a necessary part of the whole.

Have the courage to identify your dream, not your mum’s, your teacher’s, your coach’s or your boss’ dream for you.  Know your ‘why’.  Your reason for doing it.  Give it a 360 degree check over for achievability and what in my world of NLP we call ecology (do you really want it, now? Is it within your control and will it have any negative impact on yourself or others?).  Then work backwards to find your pathway there. Once you embark on the path towards the dream you have identified, you’ll need that courage to navigate the obstacles and keep on in the right direction.

You can always get there more slowly if you need more time to achieve the little steps. The little steps you take are what give you the courage and help you to grow in confidence as you take each one.  And you can even change direction if you start to realise that it isn’t, after all, what makes your heart sing. But be sure it isn’t a lack of courage, a reluctance to take those steps because they scare you which makes you change your goal. Check in now and again with reality – are you on the right path? Is it truly possible for you? And Do.You.Still.Want.It?  Because it takes just as much courage to change direction and walk away from something which has stopped being your dream.

So if you have the courage to first identify what you really want, work out how to get there, what you will need to do, and then do the hard work involved in pursuing it, your goal, your dream, can indeed come true.