Should I give up on my dreams? How am I supposed to know if that moment has arrived? The moment of truth, the gran finale, the end-of-my-dreams-as-I-know-them; the moment when I know it’s never gonna happen.
What if I’m shooting for the stars with a miniature toy water-gun. No matter how hard I pull that little kiddy sized trigger, the trickle of water that comes out won’t go high enough to touch the clouds, let alone the stars.
My heart sinks.
I’ve been kidding myself all these years.
Who am I to think that I could make it happen?
Well, you know it’s inevitable: sometimes, we wonder whether we should keep on trying or whether it’s time to end it. After all, we reason, maybe we’re trying to succeed at something that’s clearly beyond our ability.
But before we ditch our dreams, we should ask ourselves: what happens next, if we give up on the dreams?
What’s the follow-on step? And how can we make sure that we’re not being a quitter?
Because transforming your dreams into something new, isn’t the same as giving up on them.
So if you’re feeling tempted to give up on your dreams, hang on a second, please will you? And we’ll have a look at whether we really should be changing track or not.
Table of Contents
Why Would We Abandon Our Dreams?
The problem is we have this deep, inner desire for things to be different to how they are. We want more success, or more money, more joy, more travel, someone to love, a child to raise, glamour, wealth, health and more.
Whatever our dream, it’s been our driving force for a while, and yet it hasn’t materialised and maybe we begin to feel down, like we’re a failure.
I know I do.
Perhaps trying to achieve our dreams is ridiculous after all? ‘You stupid person‘, that little inner-critic voice whispers in our ear.
‘You quite obviously aren’t good enough / loveable enough / clever enough (insert your own limitation) to make your dream to come true.’
Hang on. Stop.
These are stories we tell ourselves. We’ve all done it. The little voice telling us how crazy we are or how unrealistic our dream is.
But instead of thinking about giving up, try a change of direction. Try searching for a different way to make what you want come into your life.
And maybe, just maybe, is it possible that you’ve made a habit of giving up too easily? If so, ask yourself why you give up in the first place so that you can restore your inner resolve to see this through to the end.
Before delving into whether or not it’s time to hang up our boots, let’s take a peek at 9 reasons we might want to give up in the first place.
9 Reasons We Give Up on Our Dreams (and What to Do About it)
First of all, let’s identify exactly why we feel tempted to give up. There are a million variations, but here are a few to get you started. Is your answer here or do you have another reason?
- Lack of finances – are you trying to start something which takes more finance than you have access to? If so, instead of aiming for the final goal, reframe the goal into baby steps you can afford – like for example networking to make possible partners for your future venture. Of pay for stage one of your plan instead of trying to finance the complete deal.
- Lack of time – sometimes we lack time because we don’t prioritise our dreams as deserving a slot in our daily schedule. You know, I can’t do that because I have to do x, y, z. But if we don’t have time for our dream, we can either work on changing our priorities so that we open up a slot in our schedule for doing what’s important to us, or accept that our dream isn’t actually our priority right now.
- Unrealistic expectations – is your dream unrealistic? Is it something you feel passionately in your gut but doesn’t seem possible when you look around you? If so, don’t give up, but see yourself as being on a tram line which ultimately leads to your your ‘big’ dream but has to go through many station stops on the way. So you put the big dream as step eighty-four for example and allow for all the interim steps to unfold first. This makes it much more accessible and less demotivating to reach your ultimate goal.
- Unrealistic time expectations – did you start a project expecting much quicker results? In this case we can remind ourselves that time is of our own creating and everything worth doing will take the time it takes. Sometimes that’s much longer than we had anticipated but we should try to be flexible and adapt to that difference. It helps if you remind yourself that looking back on time always seems different – so in 10 years, will it matter that it took you 5 months or 5 years longer to create your dream than you had anticipated?
- Fear of failure – If you’re thinking of giving up because this thing scares you, instead of giving up, celebrate that you’re pushing your comfort zones. Growth takes place beyond our place of comfort, so it’s quite normal that our dreams may make us feel slightly unsure or scared. But failure isn’t the thing to be scared of. Failure in ‘this’ can take us one step closer to ‘that’. Success is built on failure. Failure is a lesson on the way to success. The list goes on. Just remember, that failure isn’t the end of the road. It’s just a stepping stone.
- Changed priorities – Sometimes our dreams aren’t really our dreams any more. I used to dream of having a ranch with a herd of free–running rescue horses. I never actually gave up on it, but it no longer aligns with me, so I have let it go. Letting a dream go isn’t the same as giving up on it. Check in with your dream to see if it still resonates with you.
- Pressure from family or friends – Unfortunately, often when we pursue a dream it takes us into new realms where our friends don’t reside. And human nature means that people want us to stay the same and the way they picture us. If we’ve always hung out and done something with those around us, those people may not be supportive when we decide to change our behaviour. If your dream means enough to us, we may find ourselves growing away from old friends and making new ones. Either way, we can’t let our friendships dictate who we are. Ultimately, true lifelong friends will accept us as we are. But we can also have friendships which are there for a period of our life and that’s ok too.
- Self-doubt – self-doubt’s a professional dream-assassin. Just remember that next time you doubt yourself. Most of the people in the world who haven’t done what they dreamed of doing have had their dreams assassinated by this pro. He comes and he slays, slashing them down in their hundreds so they don’t rise up and become strong. It’s up to us whether we let him win or not. We all have insecurities. We all need to hear, at some point or other, that we’re good enough. The problem is, when it comes to getting our dreams, we can’t afford to put the power into the hands of others. We have to say, ‘I’m good enough and I’m doing this. Not matter what‘.
- Obstacles – Have you been the receiver of terrible circumstances that have made you stop dead in your tracks? When life deals us with extra hard times, the best we can do is try to swim through the treacle to reach the other side. Our dreams can go on hold or they can serve as a beacon to aim toward. In these moments we need to allow ourselves the grace to set our dreams aside and just breath. If you have an overload of external obstacles, go easy on yourself and let your dreams live in your heart while you navigate your present situation. Preserve your dreams for when you’re ready.
Why It’s Worth Pursuing Your Dreams
Your Dreams are Your Compass
Our dreams take us on a journey. We need to learn to live the journey rather than the destination and allow our dreams to mould us into the person we truly want to be.
By following in the direction of our dreams we gradually become more and more the person we want to be.
We may meet difficult lessons along the way, we may decide to adapt our dreams as we travel the journey – but by always following our dreams we protect ourselves from forgetting who we really are and what we really want to be doing on this earth.
Know that You Haven’t Failed
No matter how much it feels as though we’ve failed, we haven’t.
You can’t fail unless you’ve reached the end of the story. When we fail at a business opportunity, we seek a new one.
When we no longer find love in a relationship, we haven’t ‘failed’ in our relationship – we’ve had a wonderful time for the period it was meant to be, or we’ve learned a lesson in a not-so-wonderful relationship. Either way, we’ve grown.
Growth isn’t failure even though it can be painful. What about when we fail at a job interview? No big deal. If feels big. It feels like failure because that’s how we’ve been programmed to see it. Change our program to see that it wasn’t meant for us. The right interview will come. In truth we can’t fail at our dreams unless we create a dream which is more about calculated specifics than gut-felt dreaming.
For example, somebody who dreams of being a famous actor, might decide they want to be the next Brad Pitt. When they don’t achieve that, they think they’ve failed. But in truth, if we learn to listen to our dreams this won’t happen. If we have a dream like this we need to ask ourselves many questions until we get to the bottom of the pile and discover the true dream – maybe to live in a wonderful house or to be looked up to or to act in great movies. We can see that these three things are quite separate. Rolling them together and saying we want to be like Brad Pitt is denying ourselves the opportunity to realise our dreams.
You Never Know How Close You Are to Success
Success can be a million steps away. Maybe we’ve been knocking on the door for 5 years without it opening. We tweak our process, we adjust, we learn and we grow and still the door doesn’t open. And yet it will only ever take one step to take us through that door and we can never know exactly when that one powerful step will appear.
We build a base and we walk up the never-ending hill, the end always a horizon, never getting any closer until one day we discover we’re standing on the peak! We made it! Only now there are new horizons to be discovered and explored.
How Do I Know If I’m Making the Right Decision?
Final Thoughts on Should I Give Up on My Dreams?
We all feel like a failure at some point in our lives. We feel inadequate or as though we’re an imposter in our dream-life. Wishing for something that will never come through for us.
The key takeaway is that if your dream isn’t right for you, it can lead you to where you’re supposed to be. So instead of giving up, keep trying. But adapt each step of the way. Be prepared to alter your expectations. Be ready to embrace the unknown.
Be flexible. And if you find you’ve been chasing the wrong star (for you), shift your eyesight to the one next door and focus on your new goal. There’s no such thing as failure unless we give up.
So don’t give up on your dreams. Check in with them and see if they’re still what you want from life. Do what you can to work towards them and keep them as your beacon.
You are good enough. You are strong enough. You are worthy!!
You got this thing.