How to make the first step in following your dreams.
My mother gave me a simple task yesterday: transfer the packet of rice from its packaging to the Tupperware on the table.
I went over to the kitchen and realized that the packet of rice was not of the usual brand. This packet of rice had all its air vacuumed out, and was filled right up to the ends of its packaging. I looked closer and began wondering how I could cut the packet open without any of the rice falling out.
I looked intently on the wordings on the packaging, going all around, hoping for some sort of instructions. Then I began visualizing what would happen should I do this, or should I do that. After several minutes, I gave up, held the packet over a bigger Tupperware, and snipped a corner.
To my surprise, all the air just whooshed out from that tiny hole, and in a second I was able to transfer all the rice over without any issues. (Bimbo moment.)
Lesson learnt? Don’t overthink. Just do it!
When I wanted to set up this blog, my initial intention was to have a place to write. Then, I started worrying if anyone would read my writings. I began to obsessively trifle with the blog’s design, reading up on keywords and SEO, pushing one pixel today and another tomorrow, or making a mind map of all the things I wanted to write about. It must be perfect before I launch it!
Months went by and I did not even write a single article.
One day, I told myself enough was enough, installed the simplest design I could find, and wrote my first article.
It was the best decision I have ever made.
We are brought up in a culture where failure is frowned upon. The direct result of which is that we are so afraid of falling over, of making mistakes. We are a people with big dreams, but because we are trained to follow the system, to not fail, we shy away from the unconventional.
When some of us do entertain the idea of following our dreams, we tend to think about all the failures and mistakes we might make. We then come up with solutions on how to prevent ourselves from falling into these so-called traps.
Over time, we get over-burdened either by all the imagined problems, or all the ideas that we have come up with to avoid said problems. The original intention we have became hidden behind so much noise, and the heaviness of the task at hand becomes so over-powering that we drop it.
It won’t work. It will fail. I will fail.
What if we just return to that initial intention and do it? What if we start small? What if we stopped thinking about all the problems that might come in due time, and instead think about what we can do now to make our dreams come true?
I am not saying that we should not plan. The Prophet s.a.w. said that we should tie our camel before leaving our fate to Allah swt. My question is, what can we tie if we don’t even have a camel to tie?
Think about it!
If you love to write, just write! If you love to design, just design! If you love to bake, just bake! You don’t have to think about how you can be the best writer/designer/baker out there, all the classes you would have to take, all the money you would have to spend, all the competition you would have to face.
You have to start in order to start.
Instead, just do what you would love to do, and start it now. Start small. Everything else will take care of itself over time.
If you truly, passionately, love what you are doing, and it is something that helps another person in one way or another, success will come to you naturally, insyaAllah.
Some of my relatives and friends used to work in 9-5 jobs, and were extremely discontented with their lives. Then I noticed that one started taking photography assignments pro bono, another started baking for relatives, and yet another getting paid peanuts for coaching a sport after work hours.
Yet, because they love what they do and worked hard to improve themselves, people began noticing their talents and paying them for it! One is now a photographer with her own company, the other earns enough from baking part-time to pay for holidays, and the last now coaches full-time!
They did not overthink their plans. Instead just went ahead doing what they love. They made the first step, and went along step-by-step until they got to where they are today.
What if they were lucky, Fadhilah? What if it does not work for me?
If it does not work, so what? You start small, you lose small, but you learn a huge lesson from it. That’s not failure! Failing is to give up before even trying something.
So go, start on something you love. You may or may not gain ‘success’ in its traditional understanding, but if it is something you love and are passionate about, what do you have to lose anyway?
Don’t listen to all the people who might question you, saying you are wasting your time. If I had listened to the well-intending people telling me I am wasting my time studying in an Islamic university, I would probably still be doing administrative work day in, day out. If I had listened to the well-meaning people saying, “Are you going to spend your life writing? What can you make from it?”, I might never have had the opportunity to connect with so many wonderful people throughout the years.
The next time you start doubting yourself, think about that vacuumed packet of rice. Think about all the time lost worrying and over-planning, when you could have just started something.
In the words of The114, “Dream. Du’a. Do.”
(Disclaimer: All of the above are written on the assumption that your passions and dreams are in line with the shariah and are done with the blessings of your parents. Thank you.)