From the moment we’re born, people are telling us to follow our dreams. But what does that mean, exactly? For a lot of us, it’s hard to figure out what we want, let alone go after it. And once you do find that answer, you run into countless obstacles as you work toward it. In this article, we’re talking about how to overcome some of those roadblocks and start striving for your desires.

In order to accomplish your goals, you have to get out of your comfort zone. Most of us struggle with that because of the human desire to stay in a place that’s safe and familiar. This impulse is one of the main reasons people give up on their hopes. Dreams are big and often intimidating. Perhaps yours is to start your own business, to get married and have children, or to move to a different country. All of these will require you to take countless risks and stretch your talents in new ways. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, decide you’re incapable, and tell yourself what you have now is good enough. This complacent mentality is the fastest way to kill ambition and start living passively.

To break that cycle and make your aspirations seem more attainable, give yourself smaller objectives that feed into the larger one. For example, if you want to become an entrepreneur, start by learning a little more each day about how to start and run a business, and then, once you have a plan in mind, put it into action, little by little. By breaking your vision for the future down into actionable goals, you make that huge idea more approachable. As novelists write a story, they focus on completing each sentence rather than the whole book all at once. That’s what you can do, too: write one sentence of your life’s story at a time. Slowly, with every piece you add, you are taking the world of your imagination and making it into your reality.

Another thing you can do as you work toward your dream is keep yourself accountable. There are many ways to go about this. Let’s say, for example, that you want to be on a sports team—be it local, school-run, or even professional. The first step is to get in shape, and for that, you start exercising. To keep yourself committed to the process, find a friend who has a similar goal and become workout buddies. You can go to the gym together, or update each other on your progress, and that keeps you motivated because you wish to avoid letting your friend down. More than that, a partner can be there to pick you back up when you get discouraged and remind you why you started—and you can do the same for them.

Or, if you’re more into working alone, stay accountable by setting up a rewards system. When you reach a threshold you set for yourself, you get a prize. Depending on your budget and the goal’s importance, this could be anything from a bit of celebratory candy to an entire vacation—as long as it motivates you to keep going. Keep in mind, this kind of accountability system requires a lot of self-discipline, or else you might indulge in your reward prematurely or let yourself fall back into old habits. The most common reason why you might fall off the wagon is, in focusing so intensely on daily tasks, you lose sight of the big picture. To prevent this, make a habit of checking in with yourself regularly to see how you’re doing. This practice will give you the opportunity to reaffirm what you’re aspiring to and why that wish is important to you. Plus, you’ll be able to see your progress in a more concrete way, which will spur you on. By following the rules you set and keeping their purpose firmly in mind, you will see fantastic results.

    Perhaps instead of struggling with complacency, you’re simply afraid to follow your dreams—or more specifically, anxious to fail at them. Many people give up too early because they’re worried they will mess up. Rather than quitting at the start, accept that life is full of ups and downs, and attaining your desires requires a lot of hard work. You may get knocked down, but each time you do, you can get up and keep pushing forward. The key to doing this is shifting your perspective to view failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Each flub gives you new knowledge, which you can use to change the way you approach the problem in the future. 

You may be thinking it’s pointless to try. When you fall down, it will hurt, and you might feel like giving up, but instead, remind yourself that everything takes time. Be patient, keep moving forward, and eventually you will get what you desire. Even more importantly, stay positive, especially when you’re thinking about your goals. For example, it’s much better to tell yourself, “I want to get a raise” than it is to say, “I want to avoid losing my job.” In the first sentence, you are setting yourself up to approach the situation with confidence. With the other phrase, you’re putting yourself in the mindset of having already failed.

Accomplishing your life’s work may seem like an impossible task, but by staying committed and working at it a little every day, you can achieve even your biggest desires. If you would like some more tips on this topic, go to livingfullout.com/radio-show/ and click on the episode titled “Learn How Living Full Out Can Assist You in Going After Your Dreams.” In it, inspirational guest David Francisco discusses how he overcame a spinal cord injury doctors said he would never recover from and went on to make it all the way to Hollywood week on American Idol. Just like David, you can accomplish your goals in spite of the complications you face. Go out, chase your dreams, and live full out.

Contributing Author: Ariel Zinkan