Permission to give up on dreams
It’s okay to give up on a dream. Nikita, what are you talking about man? I thought you had to persevere, fight, and never give up. That’s true if you feel strongly about that dream. Are you fooling yourself?
I’m talking about the dream you wrote down 3 years ago, and now when you look at the list, you no longer feel that radiant glow towards it. You actually look at it and your stomach clenches inwards instead. Somewhere in the back of your head, you think “I don’t want it, but yet I can’t cross it off”. Ah yes, it’s the feeling of guilt that stops you. Internal thoughts go something like this:
I wrote it down because I wanted to do something powerful in my life. If I cross it off now, that means I couldn’t hack it. Am I a failure? If I cross this one out, I’ll be crossing out other things I’ve planned in my life. What am I going to tell my friends? I’ve already told them that I’d become / do this. I must do it. I don’t feel like doing it though. No, I can’t cross it off. (Stomach starts to sink at this point)
I’ve kept a dreams list since early college days. It’s a good way to place your wishes and ideas for your projected life. Putting things on paper / digital writing solidifies ideas and beats juggling things in your head. It puts down an intention. I was able to accomplish some of the dreams I wrote down throughout the years. It felt really great crossing those out.
As I looked over that list throughout the years, there were several things on there that my gut feeling no longer longed for. I felt guilty for crossing those things off. I felt as if that would be downgrading myself. It’s as if I didn’t try hard enough.
I woke up one morning and realized that every half year, I’m at a different stage in life. I’m not the same Nikita as I was six months ago. My mindset grows, my body changes, and my views expand. What was desirous for me 2 years ago might not be desirous for me today. As time passes, your perspective changes! That’s called growth. That is okay, and not to be feared. Fear if changes don’t pop up in your head with passing time.
On the list I had things such as:
- Get a Ph.D. while simultaneously working full time.
- Learn a subset of economics and teach it.
- Learn a martial arts defense program and teach it.
- A running certain time record.
- Teach (insert person’s name) to swim
- Travel to something like 70 countries.
My views of working out changed. Health became a general priority that manages my energy rather than a specific time record to beat in running. While understanding economics and self-defense are important to personal expansion, teaching those two topics does not take priority in my heart. While the Ph.D. sounds like a worthwhile endeavor, it has to come from an inner burning desire to uncover something new in a field you can appreciate. It has to be a subject you really feel strongly about.
Watch out for those dreams that involve another person. For example, I had a desire to teach someone swimming. As I thought about it more, I realized that I’m imposing my wants on another person. Although they wanted to learn, the impetus and action should come directly from them, not me. This dream is invalid until the other person takes action and asks for help because they feel like accomplishing their dream.
Be careful of dreams that don’t feel like yours. They are imposters. These are the ones others might tell you are worthwhile for them. Take time to reflect on whether they are worthwhile for you. Early on, I put down a dream to travel to something like 70 countries worldwide. It seemed like I heard this from many of my influences as something that one should do. To be honest, I didn’t feel that desire inside, but I still put it down. Fast forward a few years, and I’ve traveled to several countries since then. While it was interesting to see how others get along, I saw similar trees, buildings, nature, and overall life of people as I saw in the US. I realized that this might have been a dream that I imposed on myself through influences, rather than being my internal desire to travel. I took it out.
In a Nutshell
They key is to recognize that feeling of guilt in your gut when you feel changing something in your life. Realize that you’re living life in stages. It’s like a video game where you power up on each stage. While growing up, one of the stages was educating yourself from K — 12th grade. Then there is a stage of experimenting with relationships. You might have a stage of raising a family (hopefully a continued journey). A stage with discovering a new skill, and so on. Stages come and go, and can repeat. What seems dull to you today, might grab your attention in the future. Who knows, maybe my mindset regarding world travel will change in the future. I don’t know and that’s okay. What I do know is that stages of life will change your perspective and make you grow. Grow with it and realize it’s okay to want something different today as compared to what you wanted years ago.
Originally published at www.basicdrop.com on August 29, 2016.