I’ve just had the incredible experience of fulfilling a lifelong dream.
When people mention lifelong dreams, what they are really saying is that they have endured many obstacles over many years and most likely have had seasons where they have given up hope. I was one of those people. After many stops and restarts, my dream had been reluctantly relegated to the dusty shelf of lost hope following a back injury. My dream lay dormant for many years until certain changes in my life re-sparked my hope: dare I try once more?
Beginning again requires risk. We don’t want to endure yet another disappointment. We think it will be too painful. After all, the decision to give up was painful. But here is a question: have you ever considered the level of pain of regret…of not giving it another try? Is the pain of risk really as bad as living with regret?
I’m here to bring hope, because I have been one of those who have given up and quit. I understand the feelings of helplessness and lost hope. I’ve had several situations in my life where I had given up hope of ever seeing certain dreams fulfilled. These dreams are a part of us, and when we think of those unfulfilled dreams that we’ve placed on the shelf we feel a little sadness over what could have been. We attempt futilely to brush away the feelings of regret, as we live with what is currently possible.
No matter what types of dreams we’ve put on the shelf of lost hopes, the strategies for how to try once again are the same. The solutions to the problems or obstacles that caused us to give up are often interrelated, even though the dreams may not seem to be tied together when we place them on the shelf. What happens when you’ve given up on fulfilling your dreams…when old hopes and ideas gather dust like long forgotten books? Can hope ever be restored? Is it possible to try once again and actually succeed?
What are some the typical reasons that people give up and put their dreams on the shelf?
It could be physical, such as an injury or illness.
It could be sheer frustration from trying so many times and not succeeding.
It could be that we are too hard on ourselves and expect too much. Perfectionism is a huge obstacle!
Perhaps others have been too hard on us, and we believed them, so that we no longer believe in ourselves.
Perhaps its finances, family issues, working hours, job stress, and not enough education…the list can keep going, can’t it?
Strategy #1: Make a list of the reasons why you gave up on your dreams.
Why do I suggest writing such negative things on paper?
1. This strategy will help your mind to stop replaying all of those depressing thoughts, and
2. Once written down, it will allow you take a realistic look at the things that have kept you from your dreams.
Once you have your list, read through it. Cross of all items that are any of the following:
Reasons based on fear. Fear is just an emotion, and unless there is true danger ahead, fear often has no basis in reality. The fact is, people who accomplish goals “do it afraid.”
Anything that reflects the thought that you aren’t good enough. Each of us is uniquely created for a specific task. That dream on your heart may be the thing that you alone are uniquely suited for. The world needs for us to be who WE ARE.
Anything you’ve used to disqualify yourself, or where others have unfairly disqualified you. I’m referring to the memories of mean kids (or even adults) who tried to tell you that you’d never amount to anything, that you don’t have the talent, the skills, etc. (To be realistic though, I must give some clarification here: There are things that we are genuinely not qualified for, no matter how badly we’d like to do it. A person who has no singing ability shouldn’t expect to release a top of the charts album. Someone who has no natural talent in baseball shouldn’t expect to play in the World Series.)
Anything that reflects a lack of resources of all those things that say there isn’t enough…enough money, enough time, enough energy…. Why? Because if you are determined, you will find a way. Many times we don’t discover the provision until we get started. Also, we have a tendency to want everything in advance of ever starting. That normally doesn’t happen.
Now, what is left on the list? Probably not a lot, right?
Take each remaining item and ask yourself, is there anything at all that I can do to change this? It doesn’t matter how difficult it might be, the question is really, “Is it possible, even if not now, at some point in the future?” Most likely, the answer is, “Yes!” That “Yes” may come with a number of requirements to make it happen, but what I want you to focus on at the moment is the YES!
Once you realize there’s a WAY to do something, you can find the WILL to do it if you REALLY want to see it happen. Sometimes the glimmer of hope that shines through when you believe something is possible is all that is needed to get started. Are you getting excited yet?..even a little? is designed to motivate you to go ahead and dust off some old dreams.
Strategy #2: Write a list of WHY YOU SHOULD pursue your dream.
The first list you just completed was essentially a “WHY I CAN’T” list. It’s the mental list many people carry with them at all times. The “WHY YOU SHOULD” list is the game changer. For this list, write all the reasons that you SHOULD seek to fulfill your dreams..The exact opposite of your first list! Don’t be afraid to daydream a bit on this one. In fact, I encourage you to dwell on this list a while. In doing so, you will encourage yourself, and even if it increases your faith by the tinyest amount, this is a very worthwhile task. Most likely, you’ll have many personal reasons why fulfilling this dream would be good for you.
Let me add another dimension to your list. Consider who else might be impacted by the fulfillment of your dream?
As my coach, Kary Oberbrunner says, “People are waiting for you to get over what you are waiting on.” That’s an amazing thought, isn’t it? Your dream could possibly make a difference in someone else’s life! Who else will benefit from the fulfillment of your dreams? Will fulfillment of your dreams leave a legacy for your family and friends? Will others be positively impacted even as you go through the process of pursuing your dreams? Write these down. Place this list where you can see if often. Let this list motivate you.
So, what if your dream is so big that you can’t see how it can be fulfilled? Can you see the first step? What would happen if you took that first step? Would the second then seem within reach? Of course! Dreams, no matter how small or large are fulfilled one step at a time. Simply write out a plan focusing on small action steps to accomplish. Take one at a time, without worrying prematurely about possible difficulties on steps further down the path. I’m reminded of the old proverb that states, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
You CAN do this! I believe in you! Go ahead, pull that dusty dream off the shelf, wipe it off, take in a deep breath of possibilities for the future, waken the warrior within, give up giving up, and TAKE ON LIFE!
Want further information about how to dust off and pursue old dreams? Listen to the podcast entitled “Dusting Off Old Dreams” by clicking here.
Want to talk about this..or anything else? Request a Huddle…