Hey there, Mama. What are you dreaming about these days? Do you have a small business budding in the corner of your heart? A side-hustle you think about while folding clothes? I’ve been there. In fact, I’m still there.
Nearly seven years ago I founded a small non-profit organization called Expectant Heart Pregnancy Center (EHeart). It was the ride of a lifetime; and, while most people think they could never do something like that, I’m here to tell you, you absolutely could.
I no longer work at EHeart, and for many years I thought I had done my “one big thing” in life. But shortly after leaving, God began to speak a new dream into my heart. And that is the one I am walking in right now: the dream of being a writer.
So what do you do when you feel a new dream unfolding? It can feel impossible, overwhelming and even selfish. But to that, I call a hearty B.S.! Today I want to share a few thoughts with you and I hope they will encourage you to birth whatever is growing inside you.
Speak your dream out loud.
This is perhaps the most powerful step you can take towards your dream; and, it’s one you can take today! While it seems like a simple thing, verbalizing your dreams enables you to take ownership of them.
When I first began talking about EHeart, I met with my friend, Deena, for lunch and spoke my dreams out loud. What to me was a potential idea, a far-future opportunity, was in Deena’s mind, a done deal. From that point on, she began to introduce me to others as “Mary K., the one who is building a pregnancy center”. At first, I would correct her, “No,” I’d say, “I’m just dreaming about it!” But after hearing her talk to me about my dream for a few weeks, I began to own it. Because of her kind encouragement, I was able to go from dreaming about EHeart to building it.
My writing journey has seen a similar path. I have friends who insist on introducing me to others as a writer. “No,” I’d say at first, “I just blog sometimes.” But after a year or so of this confirmation, I began to take ownership of my dream. I am a writer- even on this small scale- I am a writer.
Take one small step….and then another.
Building a non-profit is a terribly intimidating task. There were days I would look at my vision for the organization and feel like there was no way I could accomplish it all. But one day, my dad advised me, “Just take one small step every single day.”
So, I wrote out my vision and began to work backward. If I wanted “A” then I would need to do “B”, and if I wanted to do “B”, then I would need to do “C” first…and so on. When I had finished, I had a handful of “to-do”s that felt more like stepping stones than death-defying leaps. And every day, I would look at that list and choose one small thing to do, and then I’d do it.
Get thee a mentor.
Before you start to panic, I don’t necessarily mean a flesh-and-blood, meet-with-you-for-coffee mentor- though that is fantastic, if you can find one. There are so many ways to be mentored. When I was building EHeart, being mentored looked like the occasional lunch with individuals who had walked a similar road before me. It also looked like emails back and forth with an organization that supported new centers like mine.
Today, mentoring means popping both of my babies in the car, picking up a McDonald’s Mocha Frappe (‘cause I’m fancy!) and letting them nap while I listen to podcasts about doing writing well. You don’t always need one-on-one attention for a specified amount of time. But most of the time, the people mentoring you may not even know you exist. And that’s okay! The point is that you are sitting under the experience and knowledge of someone who has gone before you and can encourage you to push on when things get hard. Get creative: find some blogs, podcasts, online courses and books that can teach you how to grow your dream into a reality.
You’re going to feel like an impostor.
There is a phenomenon that occurs whenever you strike out to do something totally outside of your comfort zone. It’s called the Impostor Syndrome. This syndrome manifests itself in different ways, for different people. For me, it was a voice in my head telling me that at any moment, someone was going to barge into my center and yell, “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? You’re just a kid! Get outta here and go get a business degree!”
There’s some good news if you are struggling with this syndrome. It is a sure fire sign that you are exactly where you need to be.
Yes, I battled the impostor syndrome every day that I worked on that dream. I battled it when I opened the doors. I fought it back as I directed the center for its first year. And I never felt good enough or capable enough to do what I was doing. But I did it anyway. And you can, too.
Hold tight to your vision and loosely to the future.
When I set out to build EHeart, I knew it wouldn’t be my permanent occupation. I somehow sensed while God would allow me to build it, I wouldn’t be the one running it. So from day one, I made the decision to hold tight to my vision and loosely to the future. This meant I was free to focus on building a strong foundation for the center trusting that each next step would reveal itself as I went.
Sure enough, I only spent four years working on EHeart. Two-and-a-half of those years were building years and the last year-and-a-half was spent directing it. I eventually handed it over to an incredibly capable woman who took my framed-out non-profit and fleshed it out in a way I could only have imagined!
Writing has been a bit different. I do feel this is a long-term occupation for me. I hope to be writing as long as my fingers will grip a pen or tap on keys. But I am still determined to hold tight to my vision and loosely to my future. It’s easy as a writer to be discouraged: when a post doesn’t make the splash you thought it would, when your article pitch is rejected, again, and when you only see barrier after barrier to publishing the book you hold in your heart.
Remembering the lesson I learned while building EHeart has kept me moving despite these disappointments. My job is to do what I can do today to make my vision a reality. One step. That’s all I’m responsible for today. I will leave the future of my writing career to God and trust Him to lead me into it day-by-day.
Whatever your dream is, you don’t have to worry about the future. Just focus on today and the next right step to making your vision a reality. And you can know that from the other side of this screen, I am cheering you on!