Spend any amount of time on social media and you'll likely run into more than a few motivational posts about thinking big, pursuing your wildest dreams. As much as they might come across as vague and inconsequential, they do have something there. Without people pursuing wild dreams, few of our greatest human achievements would have ever come to pass. The value of ambition is undeniable.
For women, who traditionally have been discouraged from grand career aspirations in business and elsewhere, this fact is particularly pertinent. The infrastructure surrounding entrepreneurship depends largely on male-dominated spaces where women can struggle to feel confident, leading to reduced aspirations and missed opportunities.
Thankfully, the world is changing, slowly but surely. The number of women entrepreneurs has risen by 114% in the last two decades, 2.5 times higher than the national average
. Yet, the problem with those posts remains their vagueness: why is thinking big important, what does thinking big actually mean, and how do I turn blue-sky thinking into practical career benefit?
Why think big?
Beth Lewis, a business blogger at 1day2write
and Write My X
, says that "As women, we are often taught to self-censor, hampering our own progress. Dreaming big feels like a transgression. But envisioning yourself in the position of status, success, and power that you want to be in is the first step on the road to achieving that position."
While the road to success is paved with luck and fraught with risk, you need the ambition to travel it. Pushing the limits of your desires and goals will boost your self-confidence and encourage you to fight harder for the things you want. Thinking big might not eliminate every problem, but it gives you a tool kit with which to approach them.
As big dreams require consistent action, thinking big encourages you to work harder day to day to achieve your goals. It asks you to invest in yourself, to be optimistic and to approach struggle with determination rather than defeatism. All of these habits do more than promote career success, they make for sound mental health and a more contented life. Why wouldn't you think big?
How to think big
It's all well and good throwing around platitudes, but how do you think big in a way that makes a genuine impact on your self-worth and career success?
Nafisa Bakkar wrote in Forbes on her top thinking models that promote positive and effective big thinking
. Bakkar asks you to imagine what you would do if you had unlimited resources. If money was no object, or you had all the staff necessary, what is the greatest extent of your ideas?
"Once you've thought of your biggest goal, bigger it, and keep on biggering," says Jamie Wood, a success writer at Britstudent
. "You can always think bigger. Your career only expands to the size of your thoughts, so always work on making them bigger."
Dreamers vs. realists
In a similar exercise, Bakkar recommends looking at your ideas from three perspectives: the Dreamer, the Realist, and the Critic. Allow yourself to completely and solely inhabit each role. Start off as the critic, taking your idea apart bit by bit, and work your way up to the dreamer, who is forbidden to criticize and can only praise. The exercise helps to differentiate ambition and criticism, allowing you to more easily switch between them in your thinking.
Here, Bakkar hits upon realism, the common enemy of big thinking. That's not to say you should abandon realistic thinking; obviously understanding which of your aspirations are realistic goals is an important part of achieving them. That being said, too much reliance on realism, especially in the early idea stages of a project, can restrict your thought process. It's easy to appreciate reality, it's a lot harder to let it go.
Taking the leap
The greatest benefit of dreaming big is that it gets you truly excited about your ideas, making it easier to pursue them totally and wholeheartedly. It is the nature of entrepreneurship that, if you don't totally commit to your goals, it's very hard to achieve them.
In any business venture challenges will arise - if they don't, something's wrong - and if you're not totally committed to overcoming them you will instinctually shy away, abandon your goal; rest in your comfort zone, your backup plan. The bigger you dream, the greater part of your life your idea or venture is, the more important overcoming those challenges is, and the more likely you will overcome them.
Daniella E. Phillips is a business development manager at Phd Kingdom and Academic Brits. She helps clients build their professional and personal brands in fast-changing and demanding markets. Daniella lives in Raleigh NC, and teaches business writing online at Coursework Help. She believes in a holistic approach towards business and enjoys making pie charts in her spare time.
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