I threw away what I was writing for this week because I realized that I had written something somewhat similar a couple of years ago. So, I went back to that previous article and made some changes, and share it with you today.
We tend to think of life as having a linear progression. By that I mean, we start at point A, which is when we are born, and progress along a certain path until we get to point Z, when we die. We realize that unforeseen things happen to disrupt the path, but still tend to think of it as a straight line.
Of course, it’s anything but that. Sometimes we are pulled in new directions that just kind of happens organically in life. Sometimes we make conscious decisions and take definitive action to pursue a path, or change our path.
The dreams we have often exist outside real-world rules and conventions. I have lost a lot of dreams in my life. Some of them gradually faded away, like my dream of dancing professionally. Some disappeared for very common reasons … things like age, practicality, finances, and location. Multiple sclerosis insidiously stole other dreams from me. Some dreams were violently torn from my life. When my husband was killed, I lost 100 dreams in that instant.
Sometimes, different reasons combine to change our dreamscape. To illustrate that point, I can give you a quick example from my own life:
When I was in college, one of my professors was a brilliantly inspiring expert in the political sciences and women’s studies. I had multiple classes with her over the course of several years. I was also one of her research assistants.
She was one of the biggest cheerleaders I’ve ever had in my life. I remember writing a detailed paper in one of her classes somewhere around my third year and explaining how important my career goals were to me. I clearly recall writing that I wanted to have children, but it would be better for them if I was fulfilled in my career because that would make me a happier parent, which is better than being a disgruntled one. Well, fast-forward to after MS changed my career goals and I later had our first child. I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, but I was passionate about the importance of our baby. My husband earned enough money for me to not have to work and I made the decision to become a stay-at-home moon. That had never been my dream for even a minute – until suddenly it was.
Life was good until life interfered with itself, the way it often seems to do. Some nightmarish developments came crashing through.
There were a lot of times I thought I’d never have another dream in my life that wasn’t a nightmare. I’m very glad I was wrong about that.
I want to take a moment and make sure to state that I’m not one of those people who believe ‘everything happens for a reason.’ I can’t rationalize that with the fact that good people and innocent little children get painfully ill, suffer and die, or are murdered. That being said, I do accept the fact that some things happen for a reason, even though we might not realize it at the time. Sometimes when things seem to be completely falling apart, in the bigger picture of our life, things are actually falling into place.
Unfortunately, letting go of a dream can feel like giving up, and that’s definitely not something that feels good.
Sometimes dreams have to change
It’s a difficult truth that progress in life can require that we know when to let go of one dream or goal and exchange it for a new one. You can benefit from what you learned or experienced in pursuit of something even if you never got to what you thought was the end goal.
I’m not a psychologist or a life coach, but I’ve learned through painful personal experience that life is a continual process of learning about yourself and figuring out what dreams and goals will give you happiness, or make your life better in some way. It could be a goal of getting through an hour without crying, or having a healthy breakfast, walking a mile, running a marathon, taking a road trip, or finding out something you always wanted to know. There are an infinite number of dreams and goals in the world.
You can’t have a billion simultaneous dreams and goals, or you will totally stress yourself out. Giving up or setting aside old ones is not a sign of failure. Life is made up of so many continually changing factors that it would be unreasonable if your motivations didn’t change as well. You change, and so should your dreams.
Purpose of dreams and goals
Your dreams can serve a very important purpose in your life. They can give you direction and motivation, hope and happiness. But they aren’t all supposed to reach the end you think you want them to reach. They don’t all last forever, just like all friendships don’t last forever, and most jobs or careers don’t last forever.
If your dream no longer gives you the fire to reach for it then it’s probably time to re-evaluate it completely. Don’t desperately clutch onto it because you think you have to. If it drains you mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually or ethically then it’s not really a dream anymore, it’s a bad habit.
As you may know, I’m pursuing my dreams of writing fiction. It’s a dream I had a very long time and thought I’d given up on – but it turns out that I hadn’t, not really. Sometimes timelines just change.
What about you?
I’ve shared with you a couple of the dreams I gave up or set aside, whether by choice or because I had no choice. And one of my current important ones. I’d really love it if you would share your experiences or thoughts with me.
Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I always try to get back to a couple of people personally, and I’ll surprise at least one person with something special!