4 ways we stop ourselves from pursuing our dreams

June 27, 2014

Stuck moment: I’ve been nursing this dream for a while, but all I seem to do is muse, make lists, and then push the whole thing to the back of my mind. Is it doomed always to be a pie-in-the-sky?

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We all have big ideas about our futures. We gaze out the window over our morning coffee and imagine how great our lives will be when we pull off that one thing. That one thing we know we were born to do. Could be a dream job, a childhood passion, or some fantastic feat of derring-do. In our mind’s eye, we see it just within our grasp…then the telephone rings. Ah, well, there’s always tomorrow.

Dreams are fun to think about, but they’re rarely as easy to pursue. Fear blocks us. We’re overwhelmed. We’re too comfortable. The list of excuses goes on and on. So we rationalize and resign ourselves to boring desk jobs, or hit the snooze button instead of the pavement, and “what could be” becomes “shoulda, coulda, woulda.” We know we’re better than this, and yet, somehow, we disappoint ourselves.

There are at least four big reasons why most of us sit on our biggest ambitions. Once you know what’s standing in your way, you can reverse your course of inaction and start chasing down your dream.

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We’ve put together a printable worksheet with tips to tackle any of the four obstacles. Which one feels most familiar to you?

Dreams often start in childhood (how many archaeologists found their calling via Prof. Indiana Jones?) and, though we change as we grow into adulthood, it doesn’t necessarily occur to us to reflect on whether the dream is still a fit. Or, we borrow someone else’s wish for us, such as a parent’s or an influential mentor’s. We need to gut-check our dream to discover if it’s what we really want. 

We’ve planned, we’ve researched, we have a crystal clear idea of what it will take — and that just feels like too much of a chore. All we can see is the discipline, sacrifice, and perpetual grind. We’ve lost sight of the joy and purpose that hooked us in the first place. We need to get playful to reignite our passion.

Sometimes, we’re scared to begin because we’re afraid we won’t be equal to the task. We judge ourselves before we’ve even started, and allow our negative assumptions to freeze us in our tracks. We need to get comfortable with not knowing how it will all turn out so we can start taking small steps.

Life has a funny way of making us too comfortable. We know what we have, and it’s pretty good. To risk it on the unknown, well, that’s when we start to waffle. Before we know it, having a company car or free daycare or leaving work at 5 pm sharp starts to take precedence. And we begin to question what we don’t have — like money, experience, or connections that would make our dream a sure shot. We need to figure out what’s most important to us and make it a priority.

DOWNLOAD THIS: Dream-catchers — 4 ways to stop putting off what you want most

Next week: How to deal with annoying people
Last week: How 11 Hollywood heroes got unstuck

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