Eric Barnard rock climbing.

4 Steps to Tackling a Big Dream

Updated December 4, 2018 . AmFam Team

Seasoned rock climber Eric Barnard has some tips that can help with any dream pursuit. See how he’s overcome fear and embraced the uncomfortable to fulfill his greatest goals, and become inspired to do the same.

Advice from seasoned rock climber, Eric Barnard.

For some, pursuing a dream can feel a whole lot like climbing up the side of a mountain. And for others, big dreams consist of climbing mountains — literally. Take Eric Barnard for example.

Eric has been tackling major climbs all around the world for 23 years. And through all the challenges he’s encountered in this rigorous sport, he’s built up some tried-and-true strategies to help keep him motivated. But the number one thing that keeps him going? Passion.

“I was invited to climb from a guy that worked at a climbing gear shop,” explains Eric. “After my very first climb, the first thing I said was ‘this is what I want to do for the rest of my life,’ and I climbed for the next 17 days straight!”

For Eric, all it took was giving something a try, and he became hooked. Everything else he figured out along the way — and you can too!

Looking for some advice to tackle a dream that seems insurmountable? Eric has curated some tips that can translate into any dream pursuit, and help push you outside of your comfort zone.

Embrace your fear. Fear is a natural response to the unknown. And you should embrace it! Because nothing new comes from doing what’s natural or comfortable.

“If you don’t have fear, there’s something wrong with you,” claims Eric. “You need to be able to have that rational discussion with yourself about why you’re afraid. Are you afraid because you’re in a really unnatural and uncomfortable spot, or are you afraid because your life is in danger? If we’re not willing to go too far, you never know how far you can really go. This is your chance to break through barriers.”

Prepare. So many of us picture the end goal or the victory that comes with achieving a dream. But it’s really all about the journey, and preparing for each and every step can help you move through your dream journey faster. It’s how Eric has managed to accomplish (and cherish) each and every climb.

“The journey is 90% of it,” says Eric. “The preparation, logistics, reading, everything. It’s real! Real consequences, real partnerships and real, life-lasting dreams.”

Stick to your ‘why.’ The most important part of going after your goals is keeping your purpose in mind. Why are you doing this? Why should you not give up? Always keeping that top-of-mind can help you stay focused and encourage you to press on even when you’re out of your element.

“Know yourself honestly and look for the ‘why’ you want to do something,” advises Eric. “After years of being outside my comfort zone, it’s become familiar and almost something I seek.”

Take it one step (or 14 inches) at a time. When you’re trying to accomplish something big, it can feel impossible if you think about every step you’ll need to take to make it happen. Imagine standing at the base of a mountain and looking up knowing your destination is at the very top — it’s overwhelming. But Eric’s found a way to overcome that. And it’s all about focusing on what you’ve got control over in the present moment.

“Just go one foothold at a time,” says Eric. “Don’t think about getting to the top. Just live in a world of 14” — that’s what I do when the climbing gets really hard. If I think about it too much, I’m not going to do my best, so I think about what’s right in front of me, and what I have control over.”

Finally, know that even if you’re scared, taking the leap is well worth it. Because in the end, our biggest dreams are what define our lives.

“We can read about other people’s adventures and travels without leaving our home,” says Eric. “But many of us need adventure or challenges to find that we are better people when we do big things. I know climbing has made me the person I am today and the person I hope to be tomorrow.”

So what are you waiting for? Life is out there — go conquer it.

Need even more support? We’re here to help! Join the dream movement today— we’ve got just the resources to motivate and guide you along any dream pursuit!

Tools & Resources

Explore our tools and smart tips.