Anne created a nonprofit organization that brought school supplies to Third World villages. She felt discouraged because she had not reached a fraction of her fundraising goal.
“I don’t know if all of this work is worth it,” she added. “I don’t trust my own ability to make good decisions anymore.”
Anne’s frustration reminded me of my own experiences many years ago. I wanted to write and facilitate conversations about tough topics with students and adults, but I was afraid I would fail. So, I did nothing. As look back, I believe I was literally scared of my dream.
A dream can fill us with excitement and joy, but obstacles and setbacks invite doubt, disappointment, and frustration. Sometimes it is difficult to know whether or not it is time to give up. Before surrendering and waving the white flag, consider the following questions:
1. Why is your dream important to you? What would you do if you believed you could not fail? Mary Morrissey, author of Building Your Field of Dreams, explains, “As you get emotionally involved with ideas that enliven you, you enter a new realm of possibilities. This new realm of possibilities comes with new solutions that were previously unavailable to you.”
2. Do you have a plan? A dream does not transform into a reality until you create a plan with tangible goals. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, insisted that the act of writing goals puts things into motion. “Your mind accepts the challenge and will consciously and unconsciously work to achieve the goal,” added Covey. “The momentum picks up if you tell someone your goal. The act of stating your goal creates a sense of accountability for its completion.”
3. Are you wrestling with emotions or facts? Our emotions often guide us as we make decisions about what we want and what we should do. However, the time not to make a decision to give up is when we experience intense emotion. Reacting when we feel anger or embarrassment often results in behavior that leads us to say or do things we may regret later. Emotions are not facts. Talk to a trusted friend or colleague about how you feel whether or not you want to quit before you make a decision.
4. What are you afraid of? Fear of success can feel just as overwhelming and scary as fear of failure. ”Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,” explains Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Once you become clear about your fears – including risks, criticism, and financial liabilities – you can plan how to face them.
5. Would your life improve if you quit? There are times when you recognize a goal conflicts with other interests. Or you may discover your dream no longer appeals to you. For example, I was very active in theater when I was in high school. I took acting class as an adult and found I simply lost interest in my dream to pursue professional theater. It’s okay to change your mind. If you don’t love it, don’t do it.
6. How would you advise would you give yourself if you were your best friend? What would you say to a friend if they wanted to give up? What if your best friend shared your same dream and was standing where you are at right now? This is a time to be your own best friend, your own cheerleader, your own supporter.
7. Seek advice from someone else. Talk to someone who understands your experiences and dilemma. Invite them to tell you about problems they experienced and solutions they discovered. Consider finding a mentor to help you accomplish your goals.
8. Create a SMART goal. Transform your dream into a plan that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. By knowing what you want to achieve, you can plan when, where, and how you must concentrate your efforts to successfully reach your goals.
9. Explore the knowledge and skills needed to reach your goals. Where can you learn the information needed to accomplish your goals? What resources do you need? Create a plan that will help you celebrate success.
Negative self-talk fuels fear; fear often creates a false belief that it is time to give up Rather than focusing on problems and complications that arise along your way to accomplishing a goal, remind yourself about the progress you are making as you move forward.
Challenges are either (1) obstacles that prevent you from moving forward or (2) directional arrows that provide opportunities to learn new skills and information. You choose how to respond to challenges.
We do not have to force our dreams into existance. Mary Morrissey explains, “As you reduce your resistance to your dream, you accelerate the speed at which it takes root, takes form, and blossoms into the magnificent experience we call your life.”
Begin by tuning into all that is right and successful about today. Surrender to what is and trust fully in what will be.
Is it time to give up – or is it time to double-down and move forward?
Do you want to get clear about your direction? Find helpful tips and learn how to Write a Personal Purpose Statement.
Discover Why You Need a Definite Chief Aim and create a statement that will steer your efforts in the direction you want to go.
Use tips from my personal goal-setting book, Dreams to Action Trailblazer’s Guide, to create a plan of action to transform your goals into reality.