What's Stopping You?

05/11/2016 02:16 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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This past week I had the honor of being the keynote speaker at the Southern Oregon's Women's Leadership Conference. I asked the group of over 400 women one important question:

"What would you do if you were not afraid?"

It is a question we have all heard before and possibly even answered. But life gets in the way and that "thing" is one of many "things" to look into, start, or restart. But why haven't you followed through on what you desire to do in order to live a more fulfilling life? Henry David Thoreau once said "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation". We choose to stay where we are, never fully exploring what our lives would be like if we gave ourselves permission to be greater.

More than likely, there is nothing wrong with where you are. Life is good. If you never pursued that "thing" in your heart, life would continue to be okay. However, the desire not to interrupt what's good robs us of the opportunity to see and experience what's next.

If I had to speculate, I would say you are like I was and tend to ignore what's in your heart by constantly asking "How in the world will this even work?" Often times the magnitude of our dreams overshadows the simple steps it takes to get started.

If you find yourself with a dream that seems bigger than you, here are a few key things to always remember:

  1. It doesn't matter where you come from. Dreams are free and are available for anyone to pursue. Your age, race, background, or even your socio-economic status does not matter. Single, married, or divorced - it does not matter. It does not matter whether there is a PhD after your name or a GED. The sooner you stop discounting yourself the sooner your dream will manifest as you begin to pursue it.

  • Give yourself permission to focus on your dreams - So often we do what we feel we're "supposed" to do. It's a "safe" road map that pleases everyone and goes with the natural ebb and flow of life. No disruptive behavior here! So, your own dream continues to lie stagnant and dormant. They get buried deeper and deeper. And sometimes the calling to do and be more that once was so very loud and clear is now barely audible. We no longer can find the courage to pursue those dreams. It will take you giving yourself permission again to focus on it and start following the path meant just for you.
  • Just start. I can't tell you how many times I thought about my dreams of starting a business, keynote speaking and training. I thought about it, talked about it, and wrote goals about it for way too many years. The truth is I was overwhelmed by how would it all work out. In actuality I didn't need to know if it would all work out- and neither do you! All you need to know is, "What is your next step?" For today, just send the email. Make the telephone call. Do the follow-up. And the next step after that will reveal itself.
  • Get the Help You Need. Many people fall short because they do not get the appropriate help they need. Who's on your team? Who keeps you encouraged, accountable, and on task. Every successful person has a team. Dreams are not built alone. Get the right support you need around you not only to start but to keep going.
  • At the end of my keynote, there were tons of testimonials of what people were moved to do as a result of asking themselves the question, "What would you do if you were not afraid?" One woman said she is going to run for city council, another said she is going to start teaching classes on sustainable living, and another is going to finally write faith-based books for children. What will you do? Recognize your own greatness within.

    About the Author
    Melissa J. Nixon is a captivating keynote speaker, trainer, executive leadership coach, and courageous life strategist. She specializes in growing, developing and inspiring leaders and influencers to maximize their career, business and life potential. Melissa is also a contributing writer for the Huffington Post, LifeHack, Addicted 2 Success, and the Network of Executive Women. www.courageouslifeacademy.com

    Follow Melissa J. Nixon on Twitter: www.twitter.com/melissajnixon