Let’s say you’re currently employed as a pizza delivery driver. But you want to be an astronaut.
This can feel, on the surface, like a daunting dream. You don’t know how to apply to go into space, so you feel like your goal is impossible. You can’t get there.
Well… not exactly. You can’t get there from here. But you also don’t have to stay “here,” wherever that is!
People become daunted because they skip steps. They want to do/become/achieve X, but they don’t know what the path is from where they are to that point. The ladder up from pizza delivery driver doesn’t seem to lead to astronaut.
So don’t start with where you are. Start with where you want to go and work backwards.
Find out who is currently doing the thing you want to do, and make a list of them. Whether it’s astronauts, CEOs, or or anything else, just put together a list. Line up their names down the side of your page, and in the next column over, write down what each of them is currently doing. Be a little more specific than “astronaut,” because that’s what they’d all say if you made a list of astronauts. But list what program they’re part of, or what their specialty is, etc.
Then, in the next column over from that, write down the thing they did just before that. This takes time, but surprisingly less effort than you’d think with a little Google-fu. Were they Air Force pilots? Research scientists? Engineers? Put it down.
Rinse, repeat. Keep back-trailing them until you have a column that’s just a list of what each of them was doing at the very start of their careers. You can get there from here.
Don’t worry if their lives looked different than yours. Sure, be realistic – I hate to tell you this, but if you’re 75 years old you’re not becoming an astronaut. But don’t be afraid to have dreams and ambitions. Besides, this applies to anything, not just astronauts – so no matter what your list was, start with the idea you can do it.
Once you have a list of “starting points,” look for common themes, or starting points that you could go take action on today. There will be steps between where you are now and your eventual dream, but if you aren’t prepared for and willing to endure that, then it wasn’t much of a dream.
If you really want to be an astronaut and every single astronaut started by being in the Air Force at some point, then guess what? Time to put down the pizza and go sign up. It’s either that, or freeze yourself for 1,000 years and hope for the best.