In 1987, advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy created a simple, three word slogan that would go on to become an integral component of the Nike brand: Just do it. The tag was a last-minute addition by agency founder Dan Wieden who felt the athletic brand needed a tagline to pull the different components together. Agency creatives weren’t sure it was needed. Nike wasn’t sure they needed it. The first round ran with the tag, with the understanding that they could drop it in the next round. It resonated with the public and has become a recognizable brand component for the corporate giant. 

Why? That’s a great question and you’ll likely find a number of articles with a variety of theories. However, perhaps the simplest explanation is the most accurate: it’s a powerful call to action. It speaks to the determination and persistence we hold as admirable traits. Just do it may be as much Nike as the swoosh icon, but it’s also deeply part of the human psyche. 

Do It Anyway

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The simple phrase is an encouragement as we approach the dawn of this new year, one that opens in the middle of pandemic and other difficulties. No one would blame you for tentatively approaching your dreams and goals in this season. Uncertainty is a consistent presence, but uncertainty in times like these can be an even bigger specter. And yet, we ought to harken back to the succinct tagline Nike offered us, Just do it. Afraid? Unsure? Feeling insecure? Just do it. Go after your dreams and goals even if they scare you. Just do it, anyway. 

Believe In Your Potential

You know that big dream you have? There are two truths about it that we need to discuss. First, success is within your grasp. Second, and perhaps more important to this discussion, you don’t currently have all the skills and tools necessary to achieve it. Let that sink in. If you dream big (and you should!), you have the potential needed to achieve it, but that isn’t the same thing as having the ability to do so in the very moment you set your mind to reaching for it. No, you’re going to need to grow. You are going to need to stretch. You will learn new skills. You will adapt. You will become the person that achieves that big dream and it will be worth it. 

Start Now

When something scares us, it’s natural to want to push back. Our insecurity can make it easy to procrastinate our way to the starting block. We find reasons why we need to delay. We put conditions on when we’ll step out on that limb – when the kids are older, when I finish my graduate degree, when we are out of this pandemic. While there can be merit to those pauses, they can also be excuses that invite inertia. Without action, nothing is achieved. Don’t put this off. Make up your mind and begin taking steps to reach your goal. This is a beginning and you can get it underway even while the kids are still young, grad school is still on your radar, and a pandemic colors our day-to-day lives. 

Check Your Motivation

You have it in you to reach your dreams. Reaching someone else’s dreams or expectations for you can be a different story. You have it in you to successfully pursue your passions. The goals you set, the dreams you dream, these should be things that matter to you. These should be things that excite you, that motivate you, that give you life. Setting your sights on a target because the title it brings you will impress the neighbors or the paycheck it comes with is bigger, may be attainable, but it’s not the same as living out your calling. 

Working to be a lawyer or a CEO or doctor or a shop owner because that’s what your parents encouraged or that’s what a teacher you admired told you you’d be good at, isn’t the same as tapping into the path your own heart is trying to define. Reaching your dreams, despite the fear and the challenge, is doable when it matters to you. Check your motivation and pursue the life you love – whatever that looks like – not the life someone else thinks you should like. It makes a difference in your long-term success.