Poll: What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?

Earlier this week, a perfect stranger sized me up and, out of nowhere, suggested I do the thing I've always wanted to do--let's say it was roller skating across the country. That moment was at once terrifying and a wonderful boost of self-esteem; if this person thinks I can do it, why don't I? Well, thanks to a career quiz in O magazine, I know exactly why. I tied evenly between fear of failure and fear of success, and burst out laughing right in the bathtub.

Lots of us keep lists squirreled away of what we want to do with our lives. They are lists that often detail dreams that can seem too lofty or woefully mundane: we want to buy a house with a pantry, live in Paris, drive across the country, have kids, start a bakery. But we don't dare do more than write it down because if we were to voice the thing we want to do than it would be out there, acknowledged and unfulfilled. Somehow, that stings more than just keeping it to ourselves.

When it comes to setting goals and meeting them, we know exactly what to do: break it down, make action items, set ourselves up for success. But somehow, when what we're talking about are these deep, to-the-core dreams of who we think we are and what we want to do, the getting-going is so much harder because so much more is at stake

What do you think is holding you back from making real the fantasies you have for yourself? For many women it's fear: fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not wanting what we have once we have it, or not being able to sustain it once we do. We're scared. But I think of something my sister once to me when I was being a scaredy cat about something or other: being afraid isn't a good enough reason to not do something.

It's human nature to want to preserve our sense of safety and stay firmly in our comfort zone. When we don't go after the thing we want most we save ourselves the humility and disappointment of failure. But put another way, we miss out on what could be a great adventure and a terrific learning opportunity. And then, of course, there's always the chance that not trying keeps us from the kind of triumph that could fuel a lifetime of self-worth--successfully doing the thing we most want to do and feared we couldn't.

There's something deeply human--in the best possible way--about fulfilling our potential and our purpose. These are questions at the center of any Real-Life Makeover: What do I value most? How am I going to spend my energy, my time, my talents? What can I contribute? What would improve my life (and even the lives of others)?

So, here's what I propose: wrapped in the anonymity of the Internet and our community here, let's put our fears aside for a sec and put our big dreams into the universe. And who knows? Maybe giving voice to it is the first step to make it real.

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