Last updated on September 26th, 2019 at 02:41 pm
I don’t care how many perfectly wonderful dream-come-true stories you lay at my feet; I know going after your big dream tests your capacity to stay with it to fruition.
It’s because life can be unpredictable, sometimes messy, and filled with challenging situations that test your resolve and your capacity to handle everything thrown your way. The easy part of dreaming is giving up. It’s the “staying with your dream” through the ups and downs that is challenging.
This year has been challenging for me, preceded by a period marked by both beautiful moments and stressful heartache. I seem to be stuck in a pattern of four steps forward and five steps back.
Recently, I came down with bronchitis right as my workout regimen was reshaping my body. I was ill for a month, unable to attend my classes and watched the decline of the gains I’d achieved. And this week I began my old workout schedule, only to spend all day Saturday asleep in order to recover. Being sick for such a long time is frustrating–as it made me feel more stuck– a recurring lesson I seem to be challenged to accept.
It’s enough to make you shake your fists and swear at the sky.
Everywhere I turn I encounter brick walls and delays that are matched only by personal challenges and family heartaches. All of it has forced me to pause and question my big dream.
“Shouldn’t life be a little easier?” I whisper to the skies above as if I expect the breeze to answer back.
I dwell on how much I’ve been recently given to handle while blinking back tears afraid that I am cracking inside. I breathe deeply and turn my attention to the present moment, bringing focus to my breath as I remind myself of what is still lovely in my life. Sometimes I succeed at stopping the tears; other times, I fail miserably.
It’s a process.
The reason I am sharing where I’ve been emotionally is not to depress you, but to share with you that life will still happen to you while you are going after your big dream. Sometimes family obligations, illness, and personal tragedy will slap you and your dream to the curb, and you are forced by circumstances to take a break from your quest–but you must not permanently give up on your dream.
I cannot imagine life without the feelings of hope and accomplishment that working on a dream brings to you. Dreaming big makes life interesting and exciting, and it certainly softens the life’s brutal blows swinging in from nowhere.
It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to be sad or angry or frustrated.
These emotions are standard, powerful feelings that should be explored and not shoved aside to the far corners of your mind because you think that you must always live in the flow of positive thoughts and emotions.
Feelings, even sad or negative ones, are meant to be felt and dealt with in the moments they arise so they don’t keep nagging you. If you stuff them down and ignore them, you run the risk of using them as a doubting mantra to create and live an unhappy life.
Being stuck can be frustrating. I know!
But as my mom always said, “Catherine, nothing lasts forever.” And I know in my heart and soul that this is true. Eventually, the situation that is beating me blue will pass and life will take on a new trajectory. In the meantime, the only way I know for dealing with feelings of anger, despair, sadness, frustration, and other negative emotions while staying true to a big dream is to do something creative–no matter how silly or small.
Creativity is the antidote to negative feelings.
Creating something new funnels your raw emotion into a project that shift your focus away from what you don’t want, or don’t like, towards new possibilities and hope. Time stands still as you take a timeout from your life to create something from your heart. You don’t have to work on a significant creative project to benefit from a creative break.
20 Simple Ways to Help you Stay True to Your Dreams
1. Read a good book that inspires you–even if it is just one chapter.
2. Add images to your vision board, even if it is only one.
3. Go for a walk outdoors in nature.
4. Play with something. You can draw, color, play with a pet, jump rope, bounce a ball–anything a child might do.
5. Dance around your kitchen to your favorite music.
6. Dig in your garden. Pull weeds. Smell the flowers.
7. Plant something in your garden.
8. Paint something.
9. Write anything.
10. Create a 101-lifetime goal list.
11. Fix a meal for your neighbor.
13. Dye your hair. Get a new hairstyle.
14. Rearrange your furniture.
15. Make something.
16. Visit a lake, the ocean, a stream, a waterfall, or a fountain. While there, grab a rock, make a wish and toss it into the water.
17. Draw your dream in the sand at the beach.
18. Make ‘wishes and dreams‘ jar.
19. Buy chalk and write yourself positive chalk messages leading up to your front door.
20. Leave positive Post It Note sayings wherever you go to inspire others.
To survive setbacks and difficult circumstances that seem beyond your control is to do something with their emotional residue. Creativity frees the mind from emotional chains and allows you to be in the moment–far from pain and regret–to the place where your dreams live.
I am not perfect. I am human.
I wish I could promise you that painful experiences won’t happen to you when you dare to dream big, but I would be lying to you.
What I can tell you, is if you stay with your dream the painful experiences will become part of your dream story. The stories people find the most inspirational are the ones where the hero overcomes adversity and incredible pain to triumph over all.
It’s the stories that make movies.
Your difficulties can inspire others to stay with their dream journeys too. You don’t have to be perfect. You have to remember that you are human and that “this too shall pass.”
Just don’t give up on your big dream.
Catherine Hughes is the founder, content director and editor-at-large of 8WomenDream. She is passionate about helping women step out of their own way and strike out into a world waiting for their special talents. She’s a published author and a former award-winning mom blogger. Catherine has helped companies both large and small create engaging web content, social media narratives, and unique blogging platforms. She claims to be a redhead, but don’t hold that against her.
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