5 ways to use impulsivity as (jet) fuel for your dream

07/01/12

This is a guest post I wrote for Jana Schubert back in November – totally forgot to share it here too! I just have to mention that I really love her new site – Love Work Now. If you ever find yourself in the need of a career coach – I know from experience that Jana is your girl!

Have you ever done anything truly impulsive? Something big, like ordered plane tickets,
quit your job or decided to move countries?

I’m willing to bet you probably haven’t.

I’m here to tell you it’s the most incredibly liberating, exciting and totally crazy thing to do ever. (surprise!)
And for me, it’s my most fail-proof approach at making dreams come true.

Now, don’t go and do something stupid. Let me tell you the whole story first.

I’m a very responsible person. I honor my commitments, I pay my bills and my credit
cards, I show up for work and I (usually) don’t call in sick. In most cases, think through
every choice, every change, every decision very closely. I weigh the pro’s and con’s. Ask
for advice. This is all very good when you’re making regular decisions in your daily life.

When it comes to following dreams, however, this is absolutely not the way you want to
go. Because you already know what you want to do. You already know where your heart
is. You may think you, don’t but you do. If your mind is telling you otherwise, it’s probably
out of fear.

Let’s say you want to move abroad. There may be a thousand reasons why you shouldn’t
do it. Now isn’t the best time, you don’t have the money, you don’t know anyone there, you
probably won’t get a job… And still you want to do it, which means that underneath all the
fear you have a dream. You can think this through for years, keep asking other people for
advice, keep dreaming. But this approach probably won’t get you anywhere.

Just doing it will.

Most of the dreams I’ve fulfilled are the results of moments of temporary insanity. Like
when I ordered tickets for a 9 week long backpacking trip and maxed out my credit card
in the process. 6 months later, I was drinking fresh coconut milk on a beach in Malaysia.
Because when you take the first step, the rest will always work itself out.

When I moved to London and took a gap year from my law studies to study photography,
I made the decision in May. Sent in the application on a whim, got accepted, and moved
within 4 months of the initial, impulsive decision. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to
do. And If I had thought it through, I might have stayed at home. And yet, here I am now,
so so so happy I lived my dream and studied abroad for a year!

5 ways to implement more impulsivity and temporary, empowering craziness into
your life:

• If you have a dream you want to follow, ignore all the good reasons, all the advice, all the
questioning, and just take the first step. Start with identifying the first step and then just
take it.

Take safe, baby steps in the beginning. Take a few steps while still keeping your options
open. For example, when I sent the application for photography in London, I didn’t
commit to any changes right away.

Practice by being more impulsive in your daily life: feel like drinking champagne for
breakfast? Do it. Feel like eating out on a decadent restaurant? Do it. Feel like taking a
day off? Do it!

Apply the impulsive approach to all creative work. Whenever you get an idea – jump on it
right away and finish it as soon as you can. Otherwise, most great ideas tend to end up
in the «I’ll do it someday»-folder, and you’ll give yourself too much time to reject the idea.

• If you’re not ready to commit fully to living your dream, consider to do it as an
experiment, and do it now! For example, can you take 1-6 months of unpaid leave from
work and experiment with being an entrepreneur? Can you take a semester off your
studies to work in your dream job? Can you experiment with being location-independent
by bringing your work when you’re going on holiday? The key point is to make it into
something you can set in motion sooner rather than later.

What is the most impulsive dream you have put into action?

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Amelia January 7, 2012 at 12:33 pm

These are so true! Thanks for sharing. I’ll probably tape these up somewhere.

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Marthe January 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Thank you, glad to be of inspiration!

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Hanna January 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Thanks for sharing this Marthe. Being more impulsive is something I am really working on this year.

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Marthe January 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm

You’re welcome! Great intention – it will make things so much more fun! :)

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Lisa January 7, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Yes, I have done it all my life, moved abroad, moved to remote islands, hitch hiked from Paris to Milan, drove to Mexico for SF, invited homeless people to dinner, ordered and ate desert first in a restaurant, I am at home with being spontaneous. I guess I never realized that before, thank you for offering me that perspective! It is a whole different ball game as a parent though. Warm regards, Lisa

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gina January 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Great article! I’ve definitely done some things compulsively in the past…and I still do it for my work…..I get an idea and instead of thinking..nah, can’t do that….I just move forward and do it…I actually did one last night :).

Thanks for this reminder……great stuff!

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Jane January 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm

So far my most impulsive decision is to study abroad for a year (submitted my application in late August and arrived in England on 1st Oct) and signed up an evening course in London outside my normal school days. We all need to be a bit impulsive (or insane for my case) to live ;)

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Robyn January 7, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Love this! My most impulsive thing was to move from a small town to the big city over 6 years ago… I’ve never looked back. Now to start taking that leap with my next dream!

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KatieP January 9, 2012 at 3:20 am

My most impulsive decision was to leave my job in my forties and go back to University.

I am loving every minute of it and so glad I didn’t listen to the “sensible” voice in my head.

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Ellie Di January 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm

It surprises people to learn that I’m not an impulsive person, that I don’t just up and act on my dreams. I totally seem like the kind of person who would, after all. Fear holds me back. Not an excuse, just a simple fact that turns into something huge each time I even dare to think I might do something big and crazy.

I faced that fear last week and decided to do something big and crazy with my business so I can make those dreams come true. It’s scary and exciting at the same time – probably a good thing.

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Courtney January 10, 2012 at 1:04 am

This is a fantastic little piece! I know I certainly am good at putting things off until the time is right (“) but this was a good little wake up call to utilise the meantime. Ciao – I’m off to check out airfares!

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Rachel January 12, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Such great ideas.

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Roxann January 16, 2012 at 12:04 am

Very true statements. The most impulsive thing I have done, is get divorced, quit my job, move to another state, start massage school and start a business all in the same year!!

So thanks for the reminders to go for it!

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