Being ambitious and dreaming as a big heart is AWESOME and I wouldn’t change it for the world. But, just like everything else in life, there’s this little thing called balance.
Friend, if you’ve been hustling with heart and need a little real talk and inspiration to help manage those over-ambitious dreams (and overwhelm, self doubt, etc.), grab a cuppa.
I’m sharing a few things that are helping me manage my ambitious goals and take the stress out of dreaming TOO BIG.
THE DARK SIDE OF BEING TOO AMBITIOUS
(Sounds a bit iffy I know, but hear me out quick…)
Tell me if you can relate to feeling like you’re either: never doing enough (even when you’re giving it your all) – or having this weird FOMO, like if you don’t follow through on a goal right NOW, you’ve missed your chance and you’ll regret it FOREVER.
Aaaaah… It’s like we’ve got all these amazing ideas that we just want to pour into the world, create some kind of positive impact and actually use the gifts we’ve been given, or the skills we’ve learned ASAP.
But you know, I’m learning more and more that along with having this wild ambition, creativity and wanting to do good in the world, there comes a certain responsibility.
A responsibility to LOOK AFTER ourselves.
Seriously… contradictory to what some ‘girl boss’ Instagram feeds will have you believe, being ambitious doesn’t mean hustling your health into the ground. And it doesn’t mean slaying into all hours of the night so that you’re a constant walking zombie every day, either.
Let’s please stop glorifying this “slay”, “hustle”, working after hours BS.
And calling this “success.”
- Success is knowing how to MANAGE ambition with self care.
- Success is knowing how to PRIORITISE goals with what’s important right now.
- Success is looking after our HEALTH while we navigate our passions.
Now that that’s out of the way (just had to get that off my chest because it really irks me!), let’s look at realistic ways to manage this wholehearted ambition – without the crazy overwhelm.
7 WAYS TO MANAGE YOUR OVER-AMBITIOUS DREAMS
1. Be more flexible with your goals
Ever map out your big plans for the day and then feel like a complete failure by the end of it because you didn’t check everything off? Fun times. I did this for years, until earlier this year when I heard about UNDER-planning your day. As in, just setting 3 top priorities for the day and the rest (3-4) can be mini bonus tasks.
My gosh, I swear – this way of planning my day has cut my overwhelm in half!
I also make a point of being more flexible these days. I used to feel like a failure if I didn’t get something done on that exact day in that exact time frame. Absolutely ridiculous, I know. Because unexpected things have a way of just popping up… that’s life.
Now I make a point of giving myself EXTRA “breathing” room for goals and tasks.
For example, if something usually takes me an hour, I block off 90 minutes for it. If I have a big goal, (like the one I’m on now to get fit again #IYProject180) – I gave myself WAY MORE time than I usually would (6 months, because that’s more realistic than 2-3 months which I’d normally have planned!)
2. Park your super ambitious dreams, for now
I know, I know… this is a hard pill to swallow for most of us big dreamers, because we want to do it ALL right now.
But let’s get real: we can’t do it all at once. We’re human, not robots.
Even Oprah, one of the most successful women in the world says it:
“You can have it all, you just can’t have it all at once.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
Soooo, maybe just choose ONE ambitious dream at a time and work on that… ONE STEP at a time.
Sure, it’s not always easy, especially when you’re used to leaping into things or have shiny goal syndrome. But I tell you, it’s a heck of a lot less stressful!
Just simplifying those dreams and focusing on ONE at a time.
Muuuuuuch better for my brain (and my heart!)
3. Don’t try to be a Jenna Kutcher from the get go
Look, I LOVE listening to entrepreneurs and their life/success tips – and most of it really inspires me. But wow, it’s SO easy to get wrapped up in what one of them is suggesting and feel like you’ve got to follow their way of doing things.
Embarrassing confession: I actually based my earlier blog re-brand off of Melissa Griffith’s design and messages. Whoops. Happens to the best of us, I guess. It was a good lesson to learn though.
Morale of the story – don’t copy someone else’s blueprint. Design your OWN.
Here’s the other thing I think a lot of us creative hearts tend to forget sometimes…
MANY famous entrepreneurs have a WHOLE team helping them.
Yup. I mean, it’s not Jenna Kutcher on her own making waves. It’s not Gary Vaynerchuk or Marie Forleo doing their thing solo. They EMPLOY people to help them do what they do best.
They have an entire TEAM helping them run their business.
Some suggestions to help avoid the comparison/copy “trap”:
- Don’t compare your RIGHT NOW, to someone else’s five years from now
- Start small – start where you are with what you have and give yourself permission to GROW
- Embrace the journey and the newness of your dreams and goals; it’s exciting!
- Celebrate the small wins and document them so you can look back on them one day
Sure, get inspired by successful entrepreneurs or brands out there, they can teach us a lot. But please, for the love of all that is good, don’t try and be a Jenna Kutcher (or Melissa Griffin!) in one day when you’re just starting out!
That’s just an open invitation for overwhelm and frustration.
4. Create more white space in your life
Tell me if this resonates with you: you find a block of a time in your week, say two hours and you think, “Great! I’m going to squeeze xyz into those hours and get more of my stuff done! YAY!!!!”
Sounds good, right? More time to work on your big dreams. What a gift.
Yes and no…
You see, when you fill your days with all this creativity and work, it takes its toll. Especially if you’re working on a passion project or something close to your heart.
Because, it can be really hard to know when to stop. Oops.
The thing is, those free moments?
They’re called FREE moments for a reason. We shouldn’t be filling them with more work, even if it’s our creative endeavours or passion projects. Just my two cents from what I’ve experienced.
Instead, how about giving yourself permission for some DOWN TIME?
Time to just chill out and relax.
I mean seriously, when last did you take a nap? Watch a chick flick by yourself? Go shopping for fun? Take a walk in nature? I could go on and on… this “white space” is such a massive gift, my friend. It’s like this space we get to just re-energise and recharge those creative batteries.
So take them for what they are, and just EMBRACE that free time.
And promise me something? Don’t ever feel guilty about it. Please. #balance
5. Be your own best friend and cheerleader
Being creative – writing, painting, designing, etc. – is a thankless job.
As wholehearted creatives, we pour so much of ourselves into what we do, and we do it for others… to help them, inspire them, and encourage them. And while we’d love it if everyone who saw our work gave us some kudos (shared our work, commented, etc.), it doesn’t always happen. I guess it’s like that in any field really.
So it’s up to us to be our own cheerleaders and to celebrate the small wins.
I actually talk to myself sometimes (when I’m home alone…) and say things like, “Great job, Mel! You go girl!” I know… I KNOW, it sounds a little cookoo, but I swear it makes me feel good and a little empowered actually! It makes a massive difference to my mindset.
On that note… we’ve got to be our own best friends too.
It’s no good “patting” yourself on the back for a job well done and then looking in the mirror and telling yourself how ugly you look today. It just doesn’t work.
I’m using this awesome positive affirmation app right now called “Affirmations.” Every day I get a positive message and it just helps boost my mood and self esteem a bit. I share this a lot in my Instagram stories.
6. Filter your online community and support network
Listen, I know sometimes it can be a little discouraging to see how amazing some people’s lives appear to be right now. And yes, I know that we often don’t see the whole picture, but it can affect us negatively if we let it. I mean, just Google “Instagram + depression” and you’ll see what I’m talking about. So…
I’m being super conscious of what I allow onto my social media feeds and who I allow into my life.
As far as the feeds go – I unfollow people who make me feel bad or who come across as pretentious and full of themselves. That’s just not my cup of tea really.
As a wholehearted creative (nevermind INFJ and empath), I need to feel like I can connect with the people who show up in my online space.
I tend to follow people I feel I could have a cup of coffee with in real life.
Authentic conversations… and let me tell you, I’m loving Instagram right now for that. DMs and genuine comments on posts… that’s magic right there! (Btw, did you know that you can also ‘mute’ certain Instagram stories? I didn’t till the other day. That’s pretty interesting).
I’m also making a point of giving my time and energy to people who support me unconditionally.
I know we’re all busy and I don’t expect everyone I know to share my creative work, obviously. I just mean, I’m paying special attention to the ones who clap at my small wins (like launching a new website or a product I’ve worked hard on). I think that’s important and I make a conscious effort to do the same.
I’m focusing a LOT less on the ones who choose to stay silent for whatever reason. Life is short, so focus your energy on where it matters most and where it’s received with an open, genuine heart.
7. Switch things up… or break the rules a little
I don’t know who put the “rule” out there that you’ve got to blog EVERY single week.
Maybe if that’s your job and you’re getting paid for it I guess?
But if it’s something you’re prioritising over family time, health and what not (this was me until recently) and it’s a passion project that’s making you forget why you started in the first place… something isn’t aligning right.
Blogging is takes a LOT of time.
I mean, you’ve got to write the post, edit it, add SEO and links, find amazing eye-catching images, create pins, create social media posts for your blog, market your blog, engage with other bloggers, etc. It’s a LOT!
So I decided to switch up that rule for my own sanity…
Now I only blog every 2-3 weeks (because *ahem,* just look at the length here… I’m trying to make them shorter!) and I send an email to my community every alternative week – these are like mini personalised blog posts. And you know what? It’s working so well! I’m WAY more productive, I don’t feel burned out, and I feel like the quality of my content has improved a lot. Because it’s quality that’s important, not quantity these days.
With so much noise online, it’s important to try and stand out and own your space by being YOU – and doing what works for you.
Find ways to simplify what you’re doing right now…
Things that are making you feel overwhelmed. Switch up those rules!
Break them. Make your own.
Just do YOU.
Before you go…
Sometimes as ambitious hearts and creatives, we really are our own worst enemies.
We put waaaay too much pressure on ourselves and expect absolute miracles almost immediately. Remind yourself and remind yourself OFTEN… you are doing the best you can with what you have right now. Own it, embrace YOU and where you’re at right now in your journey, and give yourself more breaks, beautiful big heart.
Those dreams WILL happen just as they’re meant to in their own time. Go with the flow, cut out more force and just enjoy the adventure, I guess!
We’re so lucky to be able to work on our dreams in this exciting digital day and age.
Happy dreaming, creating and doing more of what you love!