Contributed by Thomas D.

We all have dreams of what we want to be when we grow up. Even at the age of 55 we can still dream of another life for ourselves. But, alongside that part of ourselves that dreams is another part—the one that tells us we cannot have this dream.  Why?  We are too old, too ugly, too stupid, too weak or too whatever to have our dream lifestyle.

So we give it up and keep it as a daydream.  After all, if we try and fail then not only have we failed but we will lose the possibility of the dream as well and then what?  Just one thing though; giving up leaves us siting in the same place, miserable, nagging our kids to clean their room instead of sitting in the corner painting a picture, or writing a book, or starting a dairy farm or whatever you wish to accomplish in life.

In Barbara Sher’s book (first published in 1979) Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want, (Amazon affiliate link) she convinced me that going after the life I want will not break up my family, leave me bankrupt and homeless, or prove to the world that I am a stupid failure.

My personal dream is to play the violin and paint, neither of which I have ever done.  But somewhere deep inside of me (since I was a little kid), I have wanted to do this.  But why should I? I have no artistic or musical talent.  This is what I told myself for years, but truthfully looking back, I don’t know where it came from. Fear of failure or being thought of as a fool, probably, but there was no concrete proof.  I have never picked up a violin or a paintbrush in my life.

I have told previous partners about these dreams, as well as friends, and they all laughed at me, so I did nothing.  Now I am married with two kids and “don’t have the time.” I felt too guilty to do anything about this because I did not want to take time away from my family.

While reading Barbara’s book, I went over all of the different reasons why I may have never gone for my dream. While I came up with many reasons, this is how I would sum them all up: I was always told that I can do anything and my parents always encouraged me to try new things—but, no one ever told me how.  Also I saw that I held back from asking my parents for lessons because we didn’t have much money and I felt guilty about asking.

As far as my current fear, Barbara offered suggestions about how to approach family members about making changes. Instead of saying, “Hey this is what I am doing” (which excludes them), say something like, “Hey this is what I want to do but I am unsure how.”

So I did it. I was nervous but at the dinner table I said, “You know I’ve always wanted to paint but I don’t know how to start.” Right away my kids said I could use their paints and my wife said, “Hey we could put up an easel in the corner and get rid of that old chair. No one sits on it anyway.  And you know, I saw that they give lessons at the art supply store.” My oldest son said “I want to paint too” and of course the little one followed suit.  So we all went to the paint store and got some supplies.  Then my wife drove me to the art store for the lesson and forced me through the door.

Once I started, the old ‘failure’ thoughts came up so I followed another of Barbara Sher’s suggestions and allowed myself to create 20 ‘bad’ paintings. I am only on painting number 5 and interestingly, I have already begun to realize they are not so bad.  These days, while my family sits down to watch a movie, I sit in the corner nearby and paint away.

Do you have a story about how you were able to break free of your doubts and fears and follow your passions? We invite you to share your thoughts in the comment box below.