Have you ever had a great idea or dream but lacked the courage to take action?
Langston Hughes understood what most people wrestle with when he wrote Dream Deferred.
Most introverts struggle to turn their ideas into reality. When it comes to generating ideas, they are powerhouses, but enacting their plans is a different story. Action is not their forte. They overthink and allow fear of failure to paralyze them.
This fact really isn’t a surprise considering introverts are wired for thought. They focus their energies inwardly on their own or others’ ideas, memories, or experiences, unlike extroverts who focus on the outside world. In short, introverts prefer thinking, while extroverts prefer to take action.
The good news is that you CAN turn your ideas and dreams into reality, even if you’re an introvert. You just have to be strategic about how you go about it. If you’ve ever longed to do or accomplish something but couldn’t muster the courage, get ready for some practical strategies that’ll help you start to take action today.
1. Befriend People Who Will Help You Promote Your Ideas.
You’ll never be a one-man- (or one-woman) wonder. You need a team to succeed, and extrovert friends need to be part of it. “Why?” you ask. The reason is that extroverts are masters of promotion.
Unlike you, they love to talk to people and don’t hesitate to share ideas or what they’ve been up to.
I recently published my first Kind eBook. My plan was to send it to a few friends, let them read it, and then ask for a review. After they’d read and reviewed it, I’d launch the book on Kindle Direct Publishing to promote it.
The book is about being an introvert teacher, so I was planning to send it to a few introvert colleagues. I decided, however, to give a copy to an extrovert colleague as well. That turned out to be a great idea.
This week, at least three people have come up to me and said, “So I heard you wrote a book…” Let me assure you, I never told them I wrote a book. So who, then, must have spilled the beans? My extrovert colleague, no doubt.
Don’t fret if you hate self-promotion. Find an extrovert friend to help you. Tell her what you’ve been working on, and it’ll be like screaming in a megaphone. People far and wide will quickly learn what you’re up to.
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Which extrovert friendships do you need to cultivate?
2. Break Big Projects into Little Tasks.
Another challenge that holds many introverts back is overwhelm. We imagine all of the steps that go into our big ideas and get exhausted or discouraged before we even start, so we fail to take action. Building an “imaginary kingdom” in your head is one thing, but bringing it into physical existence is something altogether different.
A Jim Rohn idea is timely here. Rohn pointed out that the key to accomplishing anything big is to break it into smaller chunks.
Remember that middle school project you had to do? The teacher first asked you to fill out research notecards. Then, you had to write the first draft. Next, you began creating your poster board. Finally, you revised, edited, and published the final copy of your paper and put the finishing touches on your display.
Granted, there were a bunch of other little steps in the process, but you get the point: You were able to tackle the project because you broke it into smaller, doable parts. The beauty of breaking down a goal is that you can make the parts as small as you want.
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Back to the book I mentioned above. When I was writing it, I set a goal to write 500 words a night three or four nights a week. 500 words are just one page – or two double-spaced. By breaking my book into 500-word chunks, I was able to finish writing it in a couple months. The final product was just a compilation of 500-word pages.
What first little step, no matter how small, can you take to realize your dream or turn your idea into a reality?
“The journey of a thousand mile begins with one step.” -Lao Tzu
3. Above All, Fear Not Trying.
Many introverts are perfectionists. They want everything to turn out just so, so they never risk trying. This is a huge mistake.
If you’re always on the sidelines and never get in the game, you won’t ever give yourself a chance to succeed. John C. Maxwell says, “The people who don’t make mistakes end up working for those who do. And in the end, they often end up regretting the safe life they lived.”
Do you want to identify with THAT crowd? Or would you rather risk failure?
Maxwell also says, “The reality is that you will never get much done unless you go ahead and do it before you’re ready.” In other words, we all need to Fake it until we make it! You’ll never become the person you need to be to do the things you want to do unless you start.
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Whenever you’re scared to try, ponder the consequences of never trying at all. Then, take action!
4. Learn from the masters.
Other introverts have succeeded before you, and their lives have a lot to teach you. A great way to get inspired and discover practical strategies for realizing your dreams is to learn from the leaders of previous generations.
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Steve Moore argues that dead people make the best mentors because the jury is out on their lives and their overall success. If they blew it, the evidence has been recorded, and the same goes for their successes. The beauty of learning from a deceased leader is that anytime you want to you can pick up a book and read about her.
You can learn from leaders who are still living too. By studying the lives of famous introverts such as Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, and more, you can learn how they overcame the same challenges you’re facing and apply what you learn in your own life.
If you don’t think you have the time to read, think again. Zig Ziglar says that anyone who drives to and from work each day can enroll in automobile university and learn a ton by popping in an audiobook and listening away.
Think about it. If your commute to and from work each day totals 30 minutes and you drive five days a week, you have two and a half hours that you could be listening each week. Since the average audiobook takes only 11 hours to finish, you could finish a book in a little over a month. At that pace, you’d finish about 10 books a year.
What could you do with the knowledge from 10 books? How could it further your dream and help you take action? What’s your first book going to be?
Walt Disney said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” It’s a great quote, but let’s tweak it so that it speaks to you, me, and all introverts: