On the road to reaching our dreams both personal and professional we all can expect to encounter obstacles. Some large, and some small. Commitment in the face of these kind of setbacks can help you gain character as well as force you to re-commit to your original goal or dream. However, what happens when the end no longer justifies the means? What happens when we have a dream that we no longer feel as passionate or driven to achieve?
This is a common scenario many highly ambitious people encounter every day and can be conflicted about for months and even in some cases, years. In the words of the famous rock band The Clash , “Should I stay or should I go now?” Many people don’t know if they should keep at their dream or let it go to pursue something else.
Sometimes people give up on something they really want just before they are about to strike gold, while others find themselves stuck in an unsatisfying grind for years on end pursuing an impotent vision. Before you give up on all the hard work you’ve put into your dream it is important to examine, with a rational mind, whether or not this is the right choice for you.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you give up on your dream/goal:
- How would you feel if you achieved your goal/dream TODAY? While this may require a bit of imagination on your part to visualize your goal being achieved, it is a good way to gage how invested you still are in your original goal. You wouldn’t choose a dream that wouldn’t feel absolutely AMAZING in the receiving of it would you? If your goal no longer sets your heart on fire with excitement, then it is probably time to pick a new goal. Conversely, if visualizing yourself having your dream/goal still gives your incredible satisfaction and happiness, then it is probably a good idea to re-commit to your goal by finding a different route to achieving it.
- Has anything changed? When you first came up with your goal/dream you may have been quite young or in a bad relationship or struggling with needing validation in a certain area in your life or fill in the blank. Sometimes when we become older, wiser or all around healthier people we discover we want different things in our lives than when we were younger, less self assured and perhaps even unhealthy emotionally, physically and spiritually. Look at your life today as opposed to the time you first began pursuing your dream – have you changed significantly to the point where what you originally wanted no longer has the same importance and meaning to you?
- Is your goal for YOU or someone else? I remember when I was young my mother wanting me to tell my grandparents that I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. To her it meant that I would be a respectable, smart, and successful man, but to me it wasn't a goal I really had for myself. As you can see, my path took me in another direction but one that was no less respectable and successful. Because it suited me and what I WANTED it was perfect, if I had pursued being a doctor I never would have found the satisfaction I enjoy today. Likewise, we as people can often find ourselves pursuing a dream or goal to satisfy the needs and desires and even to get the approval of someone else. It is okay if that is why you began pushing yourself to do or be something in the beginning, but over the long haul it is not enough to keep you invested in your dream. It is actually a recipe for a kind of misery. So make sure you take the time to figure out if your are pursuing your goal for you. It's a very important question to ask because if you are not, then it is time to move on and pick a dream that is something you truly desire.
- Have you set SMART goals? I first learned about SMART goals in marketing school and to this day I will not make a goal UNLESS it is a SMART goal. If you don’t set SMART goals for yourself you are setting yourself up for failure. SMART goals are used by some of the MOST SUCCESSFUL people in the world. SMART stands for:
Specific: Your goal is very, very specific and you know exactly what your world will look like when you achieve this goal.
Measurable: You have come up with a very specific plan in order to measure your progress on the road to achieving your goal.
Attainable: You have the skill, talent, education, and aptitude to make your goal reality.
Realistic: You are realistic in your expectations and in how much work you’re willing and able to put into it.
Time-bound: You’ve set a specific and concrete timeframe for achieving your goal. It isn’t open-ended.
- Are you making your decision emotionally or rationally? Human beings tend to make the bulk of their choices either from an emotional place or a rational one. Most of the time we are influenced by a bit of both. When we are deciding whether or not to continue on a particular path we are very often feeling frustrated at our lack of success and down about our ability to succeed in the endeavor. It is important you are not just making an impulsive and emotional choice out of frustration, but rather take the time to sit with the choice for a few days or weeks to make sure you are not acting on an emotional impulse.
- Is your goal/dream really a fantasy that you need to wake up from? While I tend to think that the Universe is ripe with amazing and incredible possibilities, there are some things that are more than a bit unlikely. Sometimes we need to give ourselves a reality check and let go of a dream that is actually a fantasy so that we are not setting ourselves up for disappointment. A great example of this is if you are determined to be with someone who doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, is a celebrity, or happens to be in a relationship or even married to someone else. When we pursue a goal that is so unlikely to manifest, we are setting ourselves up for a big let down as well as cancelling out attainable goals.
- How much have you already invested? They say hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and sometimes its healthy to take an honest look and see how much work and effort you have already put towards your goal. When we do this kind of reflection sometimes we realize how far we have come and all we need is to find the inner-strength and will to regroup and continue on.
- What would you advise someone you loved to do? Sometimes we aren’t our best advocate or able to see a situation reasonably. But imagine for a moment what you would say to someone you loved who was in exactly your shoes. A sibling or a best friend for example. If someone like that came to you asking advice on whether they were wasting their time or if they should continue pursuing a dream – what would you say? This exercise can provide real results because we often give people we love better advice and insight that we are able to for ourselves.
Please share with us what you've learned from this week's lesson and what actions you're going to take: