Why You Shouldn’t Give Up On Your Dreams
It’s time to get fired up. It’s time to embrace that little voice inside of you that’s been saying “You’ve gotta do this.” It’s time to follow your curiosity until it becomes an obsession. It’s time to jump in, feet first, unafraid and excited for what’s to come.
How much time do you waste wondering about the what-ifs of a situation? How much time do you spend thinking that you should play it safe until you know for sure that something will work out? I’d be willing to bet that you spend way more time waiting than you spend taking action. You might even spend more time worrying about other people’s reactions to your life choices than you spend getting in touch with how you feel about your life.
Get in the driver’s seat! Take responsibility for your life. No one else knows you like you know yourself. And if you continue to let the rest of the world tell you to play it safe, you might never get a shot at your dreams.
I’ve been there. Thinking… overthinking. Making pro/con lists so often I had every bullet point memorized. Paralyzed by the fear of the unknown, and stuck designing plans B-Z - trying to convince myself that my life was a real time version of a choose your own ending novel. Thinking that maybe I could try out a million different things so that at least one option would work out. Being so unsure of myself and my talents that I would choose to do anything but go out on a limb. Because if I took a shot a missed, I thought that would be the most painful thing in the world. I thought “failure” would be a confirmation that I never should’ve tried in the first place.
I’ve learned a lot since then.
I’ve learned that if you wait long enough, the torture of leaving your dreams in someone else’s hands will always outweigh the momentary pain of perceived failure. I’ve learned that believing in yourself is the only thing you can control when pursuing a dream.
The world teaches us that we shouldn’t trust in ourselves. There’s too much that you can’t know. There’s too much that can be risked. There’s a chance that things might not work out so just keep going with what’s in front of you…
And if you’re more comfortable living that way, playing it safe, then that might simply be where you are in your journey. But if there’s any part of you that feels like the trust you have for yourself and your passion is even slightly stronger than your need to play it safe, then you owe it to yourself to take action!
What should you know before jumping in?
1. You’ll never be ready.
We come up with all kinds of excuses… I’ll wait until I have all of my affairs in order. I’ll wait until I’ve worked and saved for a couple more years. I’ll wait until I’ve made a name for myself. Other people never live their dreams… who am I to think I deserve more? I’ll wait until I have support from my family members… At that rate you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life.
There will always be another reason to put off your dreams. There will always be an option that someone thinks makes more sense than what your heart is telling you. This is because everyone is different. Everyone has a truth that only belongs to them. So if someone thinks you should make a decision because of a probable outcome, but that decision doesn’t resonate with you… understand that this doesn’t make you wrong. It simply makes you, you!
Plan if you need to, sleep on your decisions a couple of times, get advice from other people who’ve gone down a path similar to yours… but don’t settle for the cycle of analysis paralysis. At a certain point, you have to jump. You can always adjust once you’ve seen how the future unfolds.
2. You’ll never know every aspect of the future.
I thought my degrees would make me successful. I thought my education would put me on the right path. I really thought I knew what career would be right for me. I could have never predicted that I would have changed directions. I never thought that I’d be taking an entrepreneurial leap of faith. Initially, I took the calculated road on purpose. I did what everyone thought was the best choice, statistically speaking. And I kept going down that road for way longer than I should have - so long that I made myself sick… because it made sense to everyone around me. Long story short, I learned the hard way.
You’ll never know if the statistically successful decision will work out. You won’t know the outcome of that situation and you won’t be able to predict the outcome of your wildest dream either. So let yourself off of the hook. You can’t control it all. The only thing you can control is listening to your intuition and honoring what you truly want to do. You can make that decision. And you can change when that doesn’t work out for you anymore. You can’t force an outcome, but you can always decide to honor your soul.
3. There is always something out of your control.
The whole purpose of a backup plan is so that another actionable option exists if your first choice falls through. But there are so many other elements at play in life. At what point does someone decide to give up on their first plan and move on? When do you become okay with letting go of a dream?
Have you ever heard people say that you can’t understand how all of the events of your life relate to one another looking forward, but when you look back you can understand why things happened the way they did? If we take that a step further and realize that we also can’t know when our plan A will finally take off, we can see that life isn’t black and white. We aren’t limited to simple equations and checklists. Don’t give up on yourself because things haven’t worked out yet.
You don’t know enough to be so sure that your dreams are always going to fail. You do, however, know that just as seasons come and go, our lives never stay the same. You know that possibilities exist. You know the success stories: the artists, the actors, the rags to riches narratives, the kindhearted saviors, the miracles… those stories exist. So why put your focus elsewhere? Trust that your success story is on its way - even if that success doesn't look like what you hoped.
4. Outcomes and results are never promised.
One of my favorite quotes is from Jim Carrey’s commencement speech at Maharishi University. He says, “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” I wholeheartedly believe this. Outcomes are occasionally unpredictable and, in the big picture of life, irrelevant. The character and courage you develop while pursuing the things you love are far more valuable.
5. You’ll develop courage and character by following your heart.
There are many, many ways to follow your heart. There are varying degrees of commitment. You can dip your toe into the water, you can dangle your feet while sitting on a ledge, or you can cannonball into the middle of the pool… But if you find yourself sitting on the edge for too long, wishing you knew how to swim… you won’t get there by sitting on the sidelines. The lessons come from being in the water. The lessons come from doing the work. The trial and error is the entire process. And when you can accept this, your plan B truly doesn’t matter. Because you’ll be willing to give plan A everything you’ve got.
6. Trust in synchronicity.
There is something more in life than what you can predict. At some point, you have to believe that there is more to this world than the tangible. Let the world shake up your life. Embrace changes - even if they’re scary or frustrating. Believe that the surprises might be exactly what you need. Allow life to change your perspective - and then keep moving toward the realization and manifestation of your dreams.
Things will connect. Things will make sense. You will understand why everything happened the way it did. And if you refuse to give up despite every surprise and rejection, you’ll know that your love was bigger than your fear. You’ll know that your commitment to yourself and your authenticity carried you through the rubble.
7. Impressing other people does nothing for your progress.
You know the people I’m talking about. You have your core group of loved ones - the ones who will love you and support you through pretty much anything. Those people you don’t have to worry about. They don’t care if you impress them or not. They simply want you to be happy, healthy, and secure.
I’m talking about the people who want to judge you by unrealistic, unnecessary labels and signifiers. These people think that titles are more important than your soul. They think that cars and homes and vacations mean you’re successful. They think that your overflowing bank account means that your opinion is worthy. Don’t fight for this recognition. It's okay to drop out of races like this - you can’t win. And you probably don’t want to.
There will always be someone with a better title, more money, more material success… and if you're worried about impressing everyone, you’ll always be running to catch up. And what are you running towards? Someone else’s definition of “making it.”
If you’re going to run, run towards something that turns you into the person you’ve always wanted to be. And while you’re running, be sure to take time to appreciate where you are. Find the beauty in your current circumstance all on your own. You don’t need anyone else to tell you that your view is gorgeous. All you have to do is open your eyes.
8. Making other plans takes time away from the action you could be taking on plan A.
Allow your possibilities to unfold organically. I’m going to spend as much time on this section of the post as I think plan B deserves… almost none. If you want to consider a safety net because it helps you feel more comfortable going for your big dream, then go for it. Just be sure to give plan A your full, undivided attention and put plan b on the shelf.
9. Practice intense and unflinching determination.
People get discouraged because they lack faith in themselves. Tell yourself that plan B is not an option, and you’ll figure out a way to make plan A successful. You can go back to the drawing board as many times as you want. You can tweak your plan. You can adjust your timeline. You can refine and revise as many times as you need to. Doing this does not mean you’ve failed. Doing this means you’re paying attention.
Never get discouraged. If you can’t stop thinking about your goals, don’t let them die. When you feel inspired to take action, do something as quickly as you can. You want to start a blog? Get your domain name now! Want to get a new job? Research now. Want to move across the globe? Start selling the stuff you don’t need. If you don’t take action, your dreams can start to feel so far away that hopelessness will set in. You’ll begin to feel uncertain. You’ll stop seeing possibilities and begin ignoring your intuition. Instead of shutting yourself down, show yourself that you are driven to live the life that makes you feel alive.
10. We’ve become satisfied with being lukewarm.
Everyone’s frantically searching for their one and only life purpose because we aren’t allowing ourselves to commit furiously. If you don’t allow yourself to want anything, how do you think you’re ever going to get it? We can’t allow ourselves to simply be okay with whatever happens in our lives, hoping that life will drop exactly what we want into our laps. We need to take ownership of our experiences. We need to become active participants in our lives - not because we know we can predict what will happen, but because there’s pride and passion in being 110% committed.
When you know where you stand, everything else in life becomes simpler. When you’ve committed to a direction, you don’t have to second guess anything - your decisions either lead you closer toward your dreams or take you farther away. You can decide that things will be that simple, and then take action. You can do things that will help you become the person you’ve always wanted to be.
Living a middle of the road life will not get you where you want to be. We have a limited number of days on this planet, a limited number of breaths in these bodies we inhabit. Refuse to waste time by pretending to be okay with whatever life throws at you. Don’t be okay. Don’t settle. Don’t accept less than you’re worth. Keep moving forward. Fight for your passions. Treat yourself the way you wish other people treated you.
No one believes in your business? YOU believe in it. No one wants you to take that amazing job that pays less money? Take it anyway, and figure out how to make your financial situation work out. No one thinks your art is any good? Do your work anyway, and hang it on your own walls! Have no space in your life for being dishonest with yourself. You deserve better.
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