Being able to think big is key to achieving great success. Having big dreams and huge ideas can be the beginning of an amazing journey toward meeting your career goals and can also help you to thrive in your personal life. But sometimes thinking big can feel difficult, not because you’re not capable of having big thoughts, but because you carry limiting beliefs that get you stuck thinking small. Your beliefs can be changed, though, and you can work through the ones that are holding you back so that you can think more freely and come up with some great ideas.
Don’t be too concerned with what’s realistic.
When you’re daydreaming or brainstorming, forget what you believe is realistic. It can take some practice to overcome habits of holding back, but you can start by looking out for evidence that you’re doing it. Try to look out for a tendency to stop yourself because you think your thoughts are unrealistic and whenever you recognize that you’ve stopped your train of thought for this reason, choose to ignore it and continue with the thoughts you were having. Aim to be childlike; be curious and follow where your thoughts are leading you without questioning if the ideas are feasible or not. Give yourself a chance to see what you can come up with. Let your thoughts get bigger and bigger, then you can apply some healthy realism so that you can set some reasonable goals and make attainable plans for yourself. But while you’re in brainstorming mode, let your imagination run wild. Even if you come up with dreams that seem unattainable to you, having them can get you inspired enough to start moving toward trying to achieve them.
Don’t worry about money.
And forget about money while you’re daydreaming, too. Yes, money is definitely going to be a part of many different roads that lead to many different goals, but when you’re just coming up with ideas and training yourself to think bigger, holding onto a belief that you can’t afford this or that is only going to hold you back. So what if you find yourself with a dream or an end goal that you know you can’t afford right now? Allowing yourself to think big enough to reach that thought can open your eyes to your desires and you can always dial it back later. You could also hold onto your big dream and come up with possible ideas as to how to finance it, or figure out a way to adjust it so it’s more affordable. Money might be important to achieving certain goals, but it’s not important in brainstorming—only limiting.
Believe in your own ability to succeed.
Do you, on some level, believe that you’re destined to fail at whatever it is you try to do? This belief is so common and is extremely limiting to your potential. If you always feel like you’re sure to fail, you’re unlikely to think big; you probably squash any big ideas before you have a chance to really let them hatch. Start to train yourself to think differently about yourself. Try positive affirmations; frequently say things to yourself like “I can achieve anything I work for” or “I am competent and can have success.” Over time, you’ll start to believe in yourself more because you’ve repeated the idea enough to cement it into your beliefs about yourself. Removing some of your self-doubt can dissolve the blockage that prevents you from allowing yourself to dream big. Accept that you have the potential to do amazing things and let yourself dream freely.
Don’t think about your limitations.
It could take a while to overcome long-held beliefs about your own abilities. In the meantime, use a technique that re-routes your thinking so you’re able to think big without being held back by a fear of failure or a belief that you can’t succeed. You could pretend that you’re advising someone else on what goal they could reach for and what they could do to work toward it. When self-consciousness is holding you back, it can be easier to think big if you’re thinking about someone else carrying through with the actions. You might be able to see the possibility of success when it’s someone else working for it. Or, pretend that it’s impossible for you to fail. Pretend that you can do whatever you want without the risk of it going wrong. What would you want to accomplish then? How would you do it? Shifting your perspective in this way can loosen you up and let you think with less restriction.
Similarly, objective thinking can be really helpful to work around the limitations you think you have. It’s another way to re-route your thoughts but instead of picturing what you would tell someone else to do, think about what needs to be done to achieve what you’re after in a more general sense. Then, again, it’s not about what you think you can do or can’t do, it’s just about figuring out a possible plan of action. What steps need to be taken in order for someone to reach the goal in mind? Thinking in this way, you won’t stop yourself when you have self-doubt, you’ll continue planning because it’s not about your abilities, it’s about finding the most logical course of action. Once you’ve determined what’s needed, you can consider how you might go about accomplishing each step.
Get into a positive mindset.
In general, if you have a tendency to think negatively, you’re likely to limit yourself. As mentioned, you might feel self-conscious and doubt yourself; but you might also just feel like the world is full of dead ends and unsolvable problems and it discourages you from trying to see beyond your limited perspective because you don’t think there are opportunities for you to take advantage of. You don’t see potential anywhere. Before trying to think bigger, just work on trying to think more positively, because that will naturally help you to expand the scope of your thoughts as well as get you into a place to want to pursue whatever sparks your interest. Actively work to find the good around you, big and small. Develop a more positive mindset and, instead of making small plans for yourself, you’ll start thinking of all kinds of things you could do.
If you believe you need to obsess over details to feel secure or to succeed, you’ll be held back from ever thinking really big. Let go! Being analytical can be useful, for sure; paying attention to details can help you organize and plan carefully. But when you take it a step too far into over-analyzing, you can find doubt or a possibility for failure in anything. You can wind up scrapping plans again and again because you’ve analyzed your ideas to the point that nothing seems possible. It can feel like there are too many parts in your plan that you’re not sure will work out. But there will always be difficult patches when pursuing a big idea, whether you’ve overanalyzed or not; you’ll figure it out along the way. It’s good to look out for possible holes in your plans, but if you get so focused on minor issues that you get discouraged or you can’t move forward because you’re preoccupied with them, it’s a problem. Let go and let yourself think as big as you can. When you start developing your ideas you can address real problems as they arise, but don’t let the small stuff stop you from succeeding.
Accept the discomfort of thinking big.
And if you try and try and you still feel uncomfortable with thinking big, you’ll have to learn to accept that feeling. Sometimes the path to success is uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Learn to interpret it as a sign that you’re pushing yourself to new places and that it’ll help you become an innovator, a creator, or otherwise highly successful individual. And the more you face the discomfort that can come with thinking bigger than you’re used to or beyond what you believe is realistically possible for yourself, the more comfortable you’ll eventually be with it. What’s the worst that can happen, really? Plans don’t pan out? You try and don’t succeed? So what? It doesn’t mean you’re a complete failure and it doesn’t mean anything negative about you. That’s just life—sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t. At least you can say that you tried. Keep moving forward and you’ll be just fine.
The biggest thing preventing big thinking is limited beliefs. There are so many different forms that limited beliefs can come in, whether it’s a belief that you’re incapable or that a task is impossible or that your environment isn’t right for something. Any one of these beliefs alone can hold you back. Overcoming these is the most important part of developing the ability to think bigger. You might find yourself with big dreams and seemingly unrealistic goals—but you’ll never know whether or not you can achieve them if you stop the process in the beginning stages just by limiting your thoughts. Let go of your beliefs and jump in—it’s the only way to really know what’s possible.