We all have dreams – a desire deep in our hearts that want to come out. It’s God’s way of showing you what’s possible for your life. Yet the problem is, we think we can’t because we lack resources. In this article, I’ll show you the only 10 steps you need to know to follow your dreams with no money.
Full disclosure: you need money to reach higher ambitions. But you don’t need money to start chasing your dreams. You see, chasing your dreams is like going on a trip. Your dream is the destination. And while on the journey, you’ll get ideas on how to earn the kind of money that fuels your journey.
Is It Selfish To Follow Your Dreams?
Yes, following your dream is selfish… but not in the way you think. Being “selfish” means not considering other people and being concerned only with yourself. When you’re following your dreams, you need to shun the non-believers and pay no concern to what they think or say. You need to be concerned with your own journey, not with others.
A lot of people think that if they follow their dreams, they need to be selfless. They need to do it for the betterment of the world. That’s a noble thing to do. But we often forget that we must first accomplish our enlightened self-interest before we can give to others. We must first enjoy the feeling of ownership of our dreams. Fill our own tanks. And then give the overflow.
There is nothing wrong with pursuing your dreams because you want to. After all, one of people’s deathbed regrets is not taking risks to achieve their goals in life. Sure, there are things to consider, especially if you already have a family or other responsibilities. But you can start chasing your ambitions with no money down.
Do You Need Courage To Pursue Your Dreams?
Being on the journey to follow your ambition will give you a sense of joy and fulfillment. But it takes a lot of guts and courage to make it happen. You need to decide on what you want, commit to a path, and have a dogged determination to move forward even in the midst of failure. All of that takes courage.
How To Follow Your Dreams With No Money
There is no such thing as a free lunch. You can’t get something for nothing. When you follow your dreams with no money, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to spend something. On the contrary, you need to invest your time and effort to make things happen. And you continue to do that until you gain enough money to speed up the process.
Here’s the “no-money down” plan to follow your dreams.
Step 1: Take Care Of Your Survival
You can’t focus on chasing your dreams if you’re in survival mode. When you’re at this level, the only problems you can take care of are what you’ll eat and where you’ll stay for the night. That’s why you must take care of your survival first. Unless you satisfy those needs, you can’t move upward Maslow’s Hierarchy.
[Insert Maslow’s Hierarchy]
There are three ways to take care of your needs:
- Get a job. Any job. It doesn’t matter (yet) if it’s within your field of interest. What matters is that you can do it and it pays.
- Sell your skills. You can be a freelancer, a contractor, a skilled-worker, and so on. Take an inventory of what skills you already have that you can use to help others solve their problem.
- Look for opportunities in your neighborhood. Observe what people do and see if you can do it for them for a small fee. For example, mow their lawns, wash their cars, walk their dogs, etc.
One thing I suggest you shouldn’t do is to rely on handouts. Government or from your loved ones. Sure, it’s okay to start on that (especially when you’re starting from zero) but work your way upwards. Accepting handouts will make you comfortable, kill your drive, quench your fire, and train your brain to rely on others. It’s the perfect formula for personal disaster (aka living mediocre).
There Will Always Be Sacrifices
Whether you choose to pursue your dreams or not, you’re inevitably making a sacrifice. When you say yes to your ambitions and commit to them, you sacrifice a life of comfort. You’ll always be on the hook – on the edge of your comfort zone. It means missing meals so you can save up, stop watching too much TV, and so on.
But when you say no to your dreams, you sacrifice a fulfilling life. You sacrifice growing to be the best person you can be, meeting awesome people, and having great experiences. You may live a life of comfort, but it’s only good for a while. No lasting happiness is ever found by shrinking your life.
Step 2: Define Your Vision And Plan Your Goals
This is a continuous theme in my blog because I believe in the power of having a personal vision. One so vivid, it actually pulls you to its completion. It gets you out of bed, gets your butt working, and gives an overall direction to your life.
Next, you need to plan your goals. Goals are milestones that show you if you’re on track to achieving your dreams (vision) in life. Without a plan, we easily get overwhelmed because everything is just in our head. When that happens, you end up procrastinating, never moving an inch.
You need a written plan that you review every once in a while. Here are some suggestions:
- Get a piece of paper and decide on the #1 goal you’ll work on that will take you closer to your vision.
- On just 1 piece of paper (don’t use the back), jot down every possible step you can think of to meet that goal. Just bullets, no details required yet.
- Using the same paper, choose 1 step you can do right now. Then put in details on what you need, who you can ask for help, how much it will take, and so on.
- Repeat step 3 until you accomplish your goal.
- Repeat step 1.
Of course, this is an oversimplification of how to set goals that gets you to follow through. But you get the idea. Make it simple, keep it in bullets, and focus on just one thing.
Step 3: Find Out What It Takes
Once you define your destination, the next step is to find out the skills and what the journey would look like. Say you want to be a photographer. Learn photography (or get good at it) by reading books, looking for tips and tricks, and interacting with other photographers. It’s the same if you want to be an entrepreneur, business owner, painter, writer, singer, whatever.
One of the fastest ways to know the journey is to ask around. Ask people who are already doing what you want to do and let them share how they got there. Listen to their stories, the actions they took, how they leveraged their network, etc.
If you don’t know anyone, research using the interwebs. YouTube University is a great resource for almost all practical skills you wish to start learning. You can buy cheap courses on Udemy, too! (Pro tip: check between websites and mobile to see if they are running any sales promotion.) For books, simply go to Amazon and find out the best rated books on your subject.
Take the time to learn the essentials. You don’t have to learn everything – it’s virtually impossible to. The more you learn, the more you’ll find out there’s more that you don’t know. That’s okay! It simply means that your growth will be never-ending (and that’s exciting!).
A word of warning: don’t let analysis-paralysis kill you. Learn the basics and proceed to step 4.
Step 4: Test The Waters: Do It On The Side
When you have a job (or anything that gives you money) that takes care of your basic necessities, it’s easier to test the waters. Paint on the side. Create a blog and practice writing. Build a side hustle. Record yourself and make song covers. Lift some weights, knock some pins, or crochet.
For example, when I wanted to learn digital marketing and shift careers, I did so on the side. I dabbled in Social Media Marketing then focused on copywriting. This was when I still had a job and was making enough to cover my expenses and save.
Studying and practicing was the highlight of my day. Every break, spare time, or unproductive time I had was dedicated to studying marketing. It was something I looked forward to outside of work.
When you have something to look forward to during your day, it makes daily living exciting. Most of the time, we get so caught up in our jobs that we lose sight of creating hobbies outside of it. And since working from home (WFH) is becoming the trend, it’s becoming increasingly hard to blur the line between work and personal time.
Doing things on the side gives flavor to your life. There’s no pressure to make money, no nagging voice that you’re wasting your time. It’s only you… and the work to be done. It’s the perfect time to practice. To find your voice. To hone your skills.
But of course, doing it in secret isn’t the goal. Because you’re not making an impact through the work you do. You’re not entertaining, educating, or inspiring anyone and the work you do can’t shine in secret. That’s why you need to…
Step 5: Show Your Work
The work we do can only have a chance to impact somebody else when we ship it. That means hitting publish, posting that video on YouTube, showing your painting, and so on. It means having the courage to show what you’ve been working on to people who care. And you can only help them find you when you ship your work.
You can leverage the power of Social Media (which is free, by the way) to show people your work. You won’t always have a “viral post” (in fact, it’s rare), but you can expect consistent growth over time when you show up.
Side note: when you start to think about and attempt to show your work, there will be an invisible force that will stop you. Steven Pressfield calls this “Resistance.” It takes the form of self-doubt, self-criticism, negative self-talk, and so on.
The only way to beat Resistance and kick its ass is to show up, work, and show your work. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve lost thinking about how to beat it. Or how much effort I’ve wasted by doing things then stopping because Resistance showed up and whooped me to shreds.
Watch this interview if you want to learn from the master himself, Steven Pressfield.
Step 6: Find Your Early Adopters
In 1962, A professor of communication studies, Everett M. Rogers popularized the Theory of Diffusion of Innovation. This theory explains how innovation (or new ideas) spreads in society. There are 5 categories of adopters that play a role in its spread.
- Innovators: 2.5% of the population. The first people to take risks and do things. They have high tolerance for failure and are always looking for something new.
- Early Adopters: 13.5% of the population. One of the first few ones who believe and advocate for an innovation or idea.
- Early Majority: 34% of the population. They are the majority of the population who adopt an innovation or idea when they see their opinionated friends do so.
- Late Majority: 34% of the population. They adopt things later than most and when a great number of people are using things, watching viral videos, and so on.
- Laggards: 16% of the population. These people don’t like change.
When you show your work to others, you attract your early adopters. These are the ones who will consume and like the videos you post, interact with your work, or care about your painting. They are your first believers.
You don’t need a lot of early adopters to monetize what you do (if you want to). Kevin Kelly wrote an article about 1,000 true fans. He said that you only ever really need 1,000 people (worldwide) who will buy anything you produce. With almost 8 billion people in the world, you have a great chance of finding your early adopters by showing your work.
I suggest giving his article a read: The Technium: 1,000 True Fans (kk.org)
#7 Offer Something
Once you find your early adopters, it’s time to offer them something. The best way to know what to sell them is to ask them their biggest challenge in connection with what you do. Then create something that solves that problem.
Another way to monetize what you do is to build a community of your fans. Offer to show the behind the scenes of your work. Create exclusive things for them. Let them engage with you regularly. I see singers, video producers, small scale entrepreneurs, content creators, and others do this and people support their work.
You have to remember that people buy when there’s value exchange. They get something from you (your work) and you get something from them (their money). So don’t be afraid to receive compensation for the work you do. It’s not “bastardizing” your work. On the contrary, the money you receive is a validation that the work you do matters.
From here on out, it’s all about repeating the cycle of giving value and receiving compensation on a larger scale. The money you receive will allow you to speed up the process of growing your dreams and ambitions. Do it enough times, manage your money, and you’ll get past the point where you’ll worry about how to sustain your dream.
You’ll be living it.
Step 8: Grow Your Audience
When you continue to show up, more people will come to you. Remember the Diffusion of Innovation? The early majority and the late ones will start to notice you because people they know relate to you.
You won’t attract most of the population. In fact, it’s normal to expect that only a few chosen people will only ever get attracted to what you do. They’re the ones who can relate to you, believe in what you do, and support you. So don’t create unrealistic expectations that because you grow your audience, everyone will follow you.
Second, you need to have leadership skills. People are silently begging to follow a leader (you). You have to have a vision for them. Be a model of what’s possible and what’s right. As someone who’s followed by another human being, you have the responsibility to lead people to something better. After all, the “power” was given to you. And with great power comes great responsibility.
Step 9: Scale
This one’s optional. After all, you can retain a one-man show and be a solopreneur. You don’t have to employ people and you can build a company of one. So, scaling may mean something different to you than what it means to other people.
If you choose this route, it’s time to hire other people. Tap into the power of leverage and train people, create systems, and take your business (or projects) to the next level. You can teach others how you’ve made it this far. Write a book. Create products for others to enjoy and use.
A word of warning, though. Don’t grow for the sake of growth. You have to be deliberate on where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. I know of people who just wanted to grow for the sake of “clout.”
In fact, one influencer I know who has millions of subscribers on YouTube did exactly that. They were a couple who created content that entertains their audience. But because they let their achievements get into their head, things happen. The guy cheated on the girl, it became a social media drama, and so on. It was quite messy.
In the end, they decided to delete their social media accounts along with its contents to focus on their relationship. I doubt it’s true, but I hope I’m wrong.
Don’t make the same mistakes (please).
Step 10: Celebrate and Repeat
Don’t forget to celebrate where you are and what you’ve accomplished thus far. It’s easy to lose sight of the importance of celebrating our wins and just focus on the next goal. But that’s a trap. You have to set time to savor your victories. Reflect on how you made them happen. Document your progress. Then share them with others.
You don’t even have to wait for big things to happen. You can celebrate your small victories – the small progress you make each and every day. Social Psychologist Fred Bryant found that savoring good moments in our life gives us a lot of benefits:
- Enjoy stronger relationships;
- Improve mental and physical health; and
- Find more creative solutions to a problem
We are always taught how to cope with negative situations that happen in our lives. But rarely is the importance of celebration emphasized. So, whatever your wins are, no matter how small, don’t forget to celebrate it.
After celebrating, repeat the process. Define a bigger goal, plan for it, improve your skills, do it on the side, show your work, find your early adopters, offer something. It’s what makes an inspired and fulfilling life.
Live an inspired life,