When you tell someone your dream — your deepest desire, the one thing you want to have done before you die — they usually respond with some variation of the same phrase.
“You can do anything you set your mind to!”
Some people will try to push you down and tell you that your dreams are dumb, but they’re not worth listening to or even dedicating a full paragraph in a blog post to, now are they?
Even vague encouragement from the people we care about can feel hollow and meaningless.
Maybe that’s because dreaming is about more than admitting what you want. That step is hard enough.
When you want something more than you have ever wanted anything before, sometimes it can feel like the harder you work, the further you drift from your dream.
You’re not actually drifting, of course. Dreams, goals — they do change, as do we. But the reason you don’t feel like you’re getting any closer to achieving your dreams is that dreams don’t have deadlines. They don’t have milestones. They don’t have tools for measuring how close you are or figuring out whether or not you are even moving in the right direction.
That’s why we have to turn dreams into goals, to give ourselves tangible things to work toward and ways to detect whether or not we are on track to achieving what we want to achieve.
That does not make it any easier to dream big.
I sit here now writing this post with a dream looming over my entire life. I want it so badly it almost hurts. The small steps I am taking to bring myself closer to what I want to achieve feel as though I am running in place. And I am exhausted. Running in place is agonizing. It makes you want to lay down right where you stand and quit.
But I will not quit. If I was the kind of person to quit, this blog would have lasted a week, maybe two. It’s been over 10 years. I am too stubborn to give up.
The hardest part about dreaming is that a dream can’t come true unless you make it come true. I could sit here all day dreaming of What Could Be. But if I don’t write the words, if I don’t publish the posts, if I don’t give all I have to my dream, it’s not happening. It will never happen if I don’t try.
Do you have a dream?
Does it feel like you’re doing all you can do to make it happen but nothing is happening?
I may not know you or what you most hope for in the world, who you aspire to be or what’s holding you back. But I do know this: If you want to achieve something, and you are willing to put in the effort to make it happen, you are doing it right. You are doing just fine.
First of all, never let anyone tell you that your dreams don’t matter. You probably know that already, but maybe you need a gentle reminder. Even if some of your dreams aren’t feasibly possible, that doesn’t mean they won’t be someday, or that there aren’t still ways you can accomplish what you want to accomplish even if it’s not in the exact way you’re hoping for.
Secondly, keep working toward your ambitions no matter how mundane the everyday tasks feel. People are never going to see the majority of the work you do. They’re never going to see you struggle, they’re never going to read your terrible first drafts or hear about the ideas you tried but couldn’t keep alive. That doesn’t mean all these things aren’t worth it. They absolutely are. This is called work. Work often comes without short-term reward. But it will all pay off somehow, some way, someday. It always does.
Finally, and most importantly: Never stop asking yourself “why.” If you do, you will lose sight of the true reasons you are going after something the world might think you can’t have, and that’s going to make it even harder to persist than it already is. If you want to follow through on the promises you make to yourself, every day when you wake up, ask yourself why. Why am I doing this? Why do I want this? Why is this so important to me? Why am I giving up so much and working so hard to make this happen? WHY DOES IT MATTER TO ME?
Believe it or not, over time your answers may change. You may discover new things about yourself. You might endure challenges and experience things that shift your perspective and rearrange your priorities. And if that means your original dream evolves into something slightly or drastically different? That means you’re growing, and nothing but good things can come from that.
And if your dream stays the same through it all, then questioning yourself as often as possible will hopefully help you stay focused and continue working hard even when your motivation seems to have dried up. I know what it’s like to feel it’s not worth trying anymore, and I’m telling you from experience, you are stronger than you think you are. If your dreams mean everything to you, you will do whatever it takes to make sure they happen. It might take months. It might take years. There is no deadline on success and everyone achieves their dreams at their own pace.
Dreaming is hard. No one ever said it was easy. No one who has already achieved their greatest ambitions should tell you that they didn’t face challenges and doubt and temptations to quit along the way.
Please don’t give up. I’m saying this for myself just as much as I am for you. Right now, you are doing the absolute best that you can and you know it. No one else has to know it, no one else has to mind. You just keep on going no matter what. Even if you have to slow down, take a detour, or turn back and try another way.
Don’t stop when your dream seems the most impossible. I’ve been told that’s how you know you’re almost there.