12 ideas on first steps or "How to make your wildest dreams come true"

by Jakob Horvat, November 10th 2017, Agra, India

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible. Then they seem improbable.
And then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

Nelson Mandela

One idea for each month I traveled around the world. With inputs from books I’ve read and listened to. With quotes I’ve collected along the way – from everlasting geniuses, high-class performers, and other people like you and me. With lessons I’ve learned and take-aways from the many conversations I’ve had. Over the course of 12 months, I’ve collected ideas that worked for me – they have been well proven on my own journey and by people I’ve encountered. With helpful links, book recommendations, a list of inspiring audiobooks and more. Let’s get the party started!

1. Take the first step

Of all the steps that lie ahead, the first one is the hardest – and the most important one. Begin the game with joy. Don’t think about the big mountain that lies ahead. Think about the landscape and the pleasure that the practice of climbing gives you. Then, start moving up! For the sake of climbing, not to reach the summit – that happens later. What is the first step? A phone call, buying a book or writing an e-mail?

Magazine publisher Richard Branson had the idea of starting a new airline from scratch. Guess what his first step was? He called Boeing and asked if they had an airplane he could lease. Virgin Atlantic is still up in the air.

Believing in yourself can be scary. Believing in your project can be scary. Taking these first steps to turn that into reality can be terrifying. But once you cross the threshold of doubt in your mind the momentum keeps carrying you until that idea becomes a reality.

Noah Debonis, documentary filmer and Footprint of Thousand First Steps

Buy yourself a nice notebook and scribble down whatever pops up in your mind. You will feel it, once you click into an idea that may lead you further. Let’s call it intuition – our compass, the bridge between the conscious and the unconscious mind. Keep going! Observe how ideas come naturally once you are in the flow. Create and maintain momentum by the simple act of doing and use this momentum as long as you feel it. Keep coming back to it!

A year from now you will wish you had started today.

Karen Lamb

Self-doubts and anxiety might arise. Try to accept them as part of the process. I know this is easier said than done. Our chatterbox – that fearful voice inside of us – will try to show us many reasons for why this one is too big for us. Let’s follow the words of Jordan Belfort here:

The only thing standing between you and your goal is the story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.

Jordan Belfort

Great read

Tim Ferris The 4-Hour Workweek

Not sure about your goals yet? Find inspiring ideas and strategies in Tim Ferris’ bestseller:


2. Climb up

In this phase it’s especially easy to feel intimidated by what we haven’t achieved yet. We compare ourselves to others, become impatient and start forcing it. Play the game on your own terms and with your own pace. Set the rules that work for you.

Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.

Jon Acuff

Find out what the next steps are. Lacking knowledge in your field? Search the internet, read articles (check out www.medium.com) and subscribe to supportive newsletters (Leo Babauta’s „Zen Habits“ or Tim Ferris’ „5 Bullet Friday“ are great ones). Go buy a book and look up the register to dive deeper into the field.

„Whenever I want to start something new, my first step is always to read upon it. I learn as much as I can about the field I want to get deeper into – also to avoid working hard on a problem that has been solved by somebody else long ago. By doing so, the right ideas that bring me further pop up automatically.“

José Jarrin Marin, marine biologist on the Galápagos Islands and Footprint of Thousand First Steps

Need to learn a new skill? Sign up for courses, watch videos on YouTube or try to find a mentor. Need more contacts? Get involved. Find likeminded people on meetup.com, in Facebook-groups, use Instagram- and Twitter-Hashtags or other platforms. Exchange perspectives and fertilize your mind to grow new ideas. There are podcasts for everything. Podcasts are awesome! Check them out. Learn what you need to, get deeper in your field and new doors will open automatically.

“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”

Sara Blakely

Great read

Josh Waitzkin The Art of Learning

Josh Waitzkin, Tai Chi Chuan world champion and chess legend, shares his remarkable story of achievement and his principles of learning and performance that have propelled him to the top. Twice!

3. Feel the fear and work with it

Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s the only way to deal with it. Feeling fear is as integral to our lives as breathing. Anytime we approach an unfamiliar situation, fear arises. The intensity depends on how far we step out of our comfort zones. The bigger the goal we aim for, the higher the stars we shoot for, the bigger the steps that need to be taken. The stronger the fear feels. And the greater the potential we are just about to unleash.

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.

Joseph Campbell

Fear is natural. Everybody feels it. All the differences lie in the way we handle it. There are those who act and those who hide. One grows and one doesn’t. And one who stays in his comfort zone for the sake of avoiding his fears will miss out on the greatest opportunities life has to offer.

Great read

Susan Jeffers Feel the fear and do it anyway

In „Feel the fear and do it anyway“, Susan Jeffers offers smart concepts to understand fear as a tool, even a guiding friend, to make our wildest dreams become a reality. Get started by understanding her 5 essential truths about fear:

  1. The fear will never go away as long as you continue to grow!
  2. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and…do it!
  3. The only way to feel better about yourself is to go out and…do it!
  4. Not only are you afraid when facing the unknown, so is everyone else!
  5. Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the bigger underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness!

4. Step by step

One who sees the end of his walk from the start is probably just about to have a pretty boring walk. What we need to know is the direction, our vision, the bigger picture. The summit might still seem far away – so high up that we don’t even know how to breathe on such high altitudes. The good news is: we don’t need to! Not yet. As our body adjusts during the slow but persistent movement uphill, so will our confidence increase with every challenge we master. Every step taken forward gives us new energy. If it’s a big step, we might feel an unexpected increase of satisfaction and inspiration. We will approach the next challenge with this new energy level, not with the current one. And with new ideas and boosted motivation we didn’t have access to at the first place. The comfort zone expands, the Unknown becomes a playground, fears eventually vanish, and the summit comes closer.

Every next level of your life will demand a different you.

Leonardo DiCaprio

This ‚you‘ is growing constantly as long as you keep challenging your boundaries and pushing your limits – and prepares you for even bigger challenges to come.

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

Robert Luis Stevenson

Great audiobook

Zig Ziglar Goals – How to set them, how to reach them

In his classic audiobook, Zig Ziglar guides through incredibly motivating ways to recognize and set goals and to cut them down to easy-to-handle size. After listening to it, I couldn’t help taking a notebook and start applying his techniques.

5. Create your toolbox to get back on track

Lows are part of the game. Situations in which we feel demotivated, uninspired and exhausted will come inevitably. But getting off track and getting back on track is all about mood. Find your tools to pull yourself out of the mud. Which activities do you love? What quiets your mind? What inspires you? Sports works well. Exercising our bodies increases the levels of those hormones we want more of. Some of the best ideas I ever had occurred to me while running. Yoga and meditation work for many people. Especially when I don’t feel like doing them, they help me the most. Breathing deeply and focusing on the moment is an effective way to deepen my presence and give myself a break from a nervous, hyperactive and overthinking mind. Listen to music consciously, take a bath with nice aromas, kiss your partner passionately, listen to an inspiring audiobook, count the stamps in your album. Whatever it is that gives you unconditional joy – do it when you feel down and you will soon rise up again.

What are the most powerful words in the universe? The ones you use to talk to yourself.

Karen Salmansohn

Leo Babauta shared a great method in his Zen Habits – Newsletter to get back on track:

  1. admit there’s a problem (don’t ignore it, but ask yourself for which good reason you should get back on track)
  2. take one small, easy step (don’t think about the entire project, that can be overwhelming; rather about one task that can be easily done; something tiny; this is the key step, so don’t take it lightly!)
  3. focus on getting any kind of victories (nurture your mood — even small victories increase your mood levels and get you motivated again)
  4. build long-term strength with small steps (focus on one small step at a time and use the small victories to build a more solid motivation for your project; just focus on the short-term and the long term strength will come)

Alcohol and other drugs are not tools, by the way. They are distractions and short-term gratifications – in the best case. At their worst, they are weapons against ourselves. I do believe they have their place though, or at least a good excuse – in the „play“ – section further down.

Audiobooks that inspired me

Wayne Dyer How to be a no-limit person

Mark Manson The subtle art of not giving a fuck

Brian Tracy The new psychology of achievement

Wayne Dyer Change your thoughts, change your life

Rosamunde Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander The Art of Possibility

Veit Lindau SeelenGevögelt: Manifest für das Leben

I recommend subscribing to Audible, paying 9,90€ monthly and downloading one of any audiobooks you want (even if the actual price would be 40€ or more) each month. Great for making the most out of commuting to work, traffic jams or any other kind of traveling.

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Great read

Tim Ferris Tools of Titans

The tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, Icons, and world-class performers. Another New York Times bestseller from Tim Ferris and there’s some very good reasons for it.

6. Don’t let ideas die in your head – take action!

Attitude follows action. In order to turn ideas into concrete reality, we need to take action. Without action ideas remain abstract – and will eventually die in our minds. But they become alive quickly as soon as we put them into practice. Not feeling it yet? Missing motivation? Think about what Mark Manson states in his book „The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck“:

Action is not just the effect of motivation. It’s also the cause of it.

Mark Manson

Don’t let ideas die in your head. Let them come alive outside your brain instead. Put them into motion, give them shape, let them use your hands to become real. Meaning: Don’t overthink it, just do it! That way ideas grow bigger and bigger into reality.

Marlyn Ahumada, organic farmer and Footprint of Thousand First Steps

Great read

David J. Schwartz The magic of thinking big

“Believe Big,” says Schwartz. “The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief. Think little goals and expect little achievements. Think big goals and win big success.

7. Follow your intuition

As our ideas, our attitudes, and our actions sync up, we start radiating a special kind of energy one gains when following a passion. This energy is highly attractive. Both to other people and to opportunities. See the signs and follow your intuition. You happen to think about a certain person in a given moment for no apparent reason? Call that person or write a message! That strange book in the corner shelf of the library just caught your attention? Have a closer look and buy it – if there is resonance. You never know where it will lead you. Eventually you will attract into your life what you need to get your next step taken.

What you seek is seeking you.


I believe in the universe to show me the signs and guide me through my intuition. My goal setting processes always start with sending a clear order out to the universe by visualizing vividly what I want to make happen in my world. Then, I trust the process.

Elisa Nyassom, healthy skin care maker and Footprint of Thousand First Steps

8. Trust the process

Everybody comes to a point in their life when they want to quit, but it’s what you do at that moment that determines who you are.

David Goggins

In our western world, we are used to instant gratification. We expect immediate pleasure, short term success and superficial happiness from many things we do. It has become harder and harder to wait for something, to cultivate patience and perseverance and see the bigger picture. We have forgotten that great changes and huge successes take time, dedication and commitment. Many times, they involve downsides, failure, suffering, and pain – essential ingredients to the process. We need them to learn what we don’t know yet – to gain the strength and confidence needed for what is yet to come on the path of our wildest dreams.

Once we set clear goals and visualize them vividly, we can see the direction. We don’t see the exact path though. We can’t. Now there are two ways to deal with the Unknown:

  1. Being worried, scared and anxious about what lies ahead of us
  2. Trust the process

You go as far as you can see and then, when you get there, you will always be able to see further.

Zig Ziglar

The headlights of a car shine only 40 meters. Yet we are able to drive around a whole continent at night. We trust the road, take detours if necessary, and potentially change course as we drive. What if we understand the process of realizing our dreams the same way? What if we learn to trust the process, however painful it might seem at times?

If we embrace what comes along with open arms and eager to learn from it, if we accept the hard times too and become at peace with the discomfort, a soothing and relaxing voice will soon sound within telling us: „Everything is running right on schedule.“

Come up with a clear picture of what you want to accomplish. Have a clear visualization. Then stay with it, persist on it. It’s not the strongest who win, it’s the ones with perseverance.

Glen Galindo, social bridge builder and Footprint of Thousand First Steps

Great read

Robert M. Pirsig Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance

A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, the book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions of how to live. It became an instant beststeller right upon publication in 1974 and inspired millions.

9. Do your thing

You are the master of your choices. You are the only person who is in control. Do your thing despite what anyone else thinks of it. Focus on your goals, master and complete one step after another. The constant forward movement will provide you with motivation, energy and ideas needed for progressing further.

Be open for constructive feedback, but don’t take the opinions of others too serious. It might blur your focus, distract your attention, make doubts arise, and lower your confidence. They have not walked in your shoes, nor do they know your true potential. They don’t need to believe in your vision. Only you do! If you don’t believe in yourself, who else should?

Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.

Tim Ferris

Great read

Mark Manson The subtle art of not giving a fuck

We generally give too many f*cks in our lives. In his bestselling book Mark Manson comes up with smart ideas, creative concepts and inspiring advices for how to change that and lead a happier life.

10. Surround yourself with the right people

This is a hard one. Our best friends are our treasures, the people we trust, those who know almost everything about us. Our inner circle also represents who we are. As we progress and grow, key values and priorities might change though. Sometimes this interferes with the friendships we’ve had for a long time. This is not a bad thing, but rather a natural process on our journey through life. A sign could be the lack of support for an idea that seems important to us. You want to shoot for the stars and your friend always brings you down with something like „Let’s be realistic, …“. We feel it when the time has come. When we invest more energy in a friendship than we receive from it. Let’s not be afraid of letting go and making space for new people in our lives. For those who support our goals and share our values. Because whether we like it or not:

We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

Jim Rohn

There lies incredible value in having an inspiring conversation with a good friend. With one who pulls us out of the mud, helps us create new ideas, and encourages us to keep going. That doesn’t mean that all of our friends must be like that – not at all. There’s legitimate reasons for all different kind of friendships in our lives. Just be aware of who you spend the most time with. Choose them wisely!

You’ve been around people who, simply by being around them, elevated your thinking and energy. Those are the kinds of people you need to surround yourself with. Those are the kinds of people you need to be like yourself, so that others are better simply by being around you.

Benjamin Hardy

Great read

Dale Carnegie How to win friends and influence people

Dale Carnegie’s rock-solid classic about social skills and how to change your whole life by improving them. His advice has carried countless people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.

11. Play!

There’s many concepts – mostly ancient traditions from the far east – that promote balance as an essential part of fulfillment. Yin and Yang, for instance. Yoga. Meditation. You name it. Both sides of the coin are part of the game. Success with a project needs dedication, no doubt. But creativity also needs room to breathe. This room can be provided by stepping back from time to time and taking breaks. Not too long ones, indeed. We don’t want to break the momentum. But too easily we can get stuck in thoughts and emotions if we cut off fresh air supply. There are ways to break the rut: Do silly stuff, go out and play. Make yourself dirty, lose your mind. Travel and get lost! Party hard, if that’s your thing. Meet new people, try new things. Dance all night long. Do one thing a day that scares you. Don’t be too hard on yourself, if your self asks for it.

Balance is not something we find. It’s something we create.

Jana Kingsford

12. Love yourself

Here is a simple and yet so essential truth about self-love that this manual can’t go without:

The better we feel about ourselves, the better others feel around us and the more opportunities we will attract into our lives.

So, what can we do? Obviously, the ideas mentioned above help. Self-esteem and confidence are wonderful side effects of bringing up the courage, discipline and spirit to pursue what our hearts long for. What else?

  • Don’t do stuff that is against your core values. It lowers your self-esteem, steals your energy and enhances demotivation. In other words: Be kind to yourself!
  • Be kind to others!
  • Make positive impacts.
  • Do what you love and do it often.
  • Be grateful.

After I finished writing this compilation of ideas, I sent it to some close friends to preview it and asked for feedback. Martin, who inspired and started this world trip with me, remarked:

The only thing I miss in the read is a quote from you. Happily, I have a bunch of them, written down over many inspiring conversations in various countries. This is one of those I really love:

Everybody has this beautiful shining light, and often it is hidden by noise, shame – or even both. Start to love yourself, because unless you do, you can’t really care for the world. The one who loves himself, also believes in himself and dares to take on a whole new level of challenges, and that changes everything.

Jakob Horvat, founder & creator of Thousand First Steps

PS: I’m using Amazon’s affiliate program with the book links in this article. If you buy a book through these links, I get a small commission. Win-Win 🙂

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