What to do if You’re Thinking About Giving Up on Your Dream
Yet another failure! As I checked the sign ups to my newsletter, my heart sank.
I’d heard good things about Facebook Ads. Authorities I respected said they were a great way to gain exposure and increase your following. Of course, you had to pay, but I didn’t mind as long as I saw a return.
That was the problem, though, there were no returns. Despite paying close to £500 on filming a video, editing and the ads themselves, I received no more than a handful of subscribers to my website. Yet another failure.
Of course, on its own, this failure was not catastrophic. However, when it’s the tip of a humongous iceberg, that stretches back 16 years, it’s hard to process.
It reminds me of a time, back in 2003, when I was struggling to get tennis coaching clients and wasn’t sure if I could make enough money to continue working.
It reminds me of a time, back in 2005, when I was spending money on advertising, to build awareness for my new hypnotherapy business, and nothing seemed to work.
It reminds me of my early and mid-twenties when I couldn’t get a date. No matter how many girls I asked, or what tactic or approach I used, nobody was interested.
And this mentions nothing of the struggles I’ve experienced attempting to become a personal development author and speaker. I had to rewrite my book four times, as I learned to gather and present my thoughts in a coherent fashion.
Even when the book was published, the failures continued. The next 6 years saw setback after setback as I attempted to learn the steps to building a brand and promoting my work.
Of course, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom. Over the years, there have been many successes. I got enough tennis coaching and hypnotherapy clients to build a successful business. I found the love of my life. Many copies of my book have been sold and I’ve received a lot of satisfying feedback on my work. However, my recent experience with Facebook Ads reminded me of those moments during my twenties when I just wanted to give up.
I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way. Many of you reading this will have had similar experiences. There’s something you want to do with your life, something you care about so much, yet no matter how hard you work and no matter what strategy you try, all you’re met with is a closed door.
Well, if that’s the case, then I want to share something with you. I want to give you the strategy and reasoning process that got me through. I’m going to explain the dilemma you face, what your options are and help you understand what to do in these testing moments.
When considering giving up on your dreams, the first thing to understand is that your options are limited. You only have two (although there are sub-divisions within these options). They are,
Stick at what you’re doing.
Return to The System’s Path.
Unless home schooled (and even then, it’s difficult to completely escape its influence), you will have walked The System’s Path. It begins when you’re taught about the importance of getting good grades. These, you are told, will help you get into University. Once at University, you then have to get a good degree – life’s golden ticket and the route through which you secure a ‘good job’.
Once you get this job, though, the chase isn’t over. You must now pursue promotion after promotion, hoping you can earn enough money to retire early and wait to die in relative comfort.
Even if you don’t go the University route, you’re still indoctrinated on the importance of earning money. You have to trade your time for financial reward. It doesn’t matter how you do it (as long as it doesn’t break the law), and the subject of whether you enjoy it is irrelevant, but you must be able to provide for yourself.
This is The System’s Path. Most people begrudgingly accept it because a) they believe there is no feasible alternative or b) they’re afraid to challenge what so many people accept. However, when you leave the education system, you’re presented with a unique opportunity.
For the first time in your life, you can start walking your own path. A rare few grasp this opportunity immediately. Some do so in their 20s, after they’ve left University or are frustrated with a few years spent in the world of work. Finally, some make the brave decision later in life when they have the responsibilities of paying a mortgage and supporting a family.
Undoubtedly, some of you have also taken advantage of this opportunity. You’ve identified a passion and made inroads into earning a living from this project. However, as is inevitable on this journey, you’ve encountered failures and difficulties and now you’re questioning the validity of your decision.
What do you do?
The situation is serious. Your project hasn’t been as successful as you anticipated and now you’re faced with the pressing needs of making money and avoiding the heartache of continual failure.
In such moments, you consider returning to The System’s Path. You tell yourself you could get a regular job. This would remove all your financial concerns and help avoid the challenge of continually having to grow.
Also, you wouldn’t have to put up with the stress of thinking for yourself. Just do what everybody else does. Clock in. Work. Go home. Get drunk at the weekends. Or, watch TV. Go shopping or use the few free hours a week you have to take part in your hobby. Just focus entirely on your children and forget about yourself. It’s not a bad life. You’re not in pain (yet). You just have to put up with some boredom and stress.
But is this a long-term solution?
Yes, it may alleviate your immediate financial concerns but, six months down the line, will the symptoms that caused you to break free from The System’s Path not return?
Will the restlessness not re-emerge? Will the feeling that you could be doing so much more with your life not begin to haunt you again?
It’s likely it will.
So, I ask you again, what can you do?
You appear trapped between a rock and a hard place. Continuing to pursue your dream presents further, almost unendurable, financial and emotional hardship. Returning to The System’s Path only presents a short-term solution.
To answer this question and find a solution to your dilemma, you must gain a deeper understanding of what you really seek.
Listen to your Heart
Moments of desperation, brought about by repeated faiIure, create a vortex. The trivia of day to day life disappears as you gain clarity on the bigger picture. In these moments, you’re closer to your source of guidance.
Go deep inside your mind. Slow everything down. Notice your breathing. Now ask yourself, ‘what is my heart telling my to do? What do I know is right?’
Your hearts response will always be to follow its deepest calling. Behind the object of your quest (to sell a million copies of your book, to have your product on the shelves of major retailers across the world, to win a contest) is the desire to express yourself, to give and receive love and to realise your potential. In short, to be complete.
This is what you need to remember.
Then, you need to ask yourself a powerful question, ‘can this be achieved through walking The System’s Path?’
With the daily sacrifice of your inspiration and conscience this entails, the answer is, ‘no’.
Then, you need to ask yourself another question, ‘is the dream I’m currently attempting to achieve the vehicle through which I’ll become complete?’
Don’t expect an immediate answer. Instead, it will be revealed with time. You’ll have to return to your present quest, pick up the pieces and continue along your journey.
If it’s not the correct path, you’ll begin to see signs. Others ideas will present themselves to you. Ways of achieving your dream in a manner you hadn’t anticipated will become apparent. (For example, I genuinely thought I’d only need to release one book to become a best-selling self-help author. I now realise that I’ll need a whole series.)
Remember this golden rule – you only give up on your dream when you find something more inspiring.
If you do, be flexible. Be open to what your heart is telling you. It can be hard to walk away from a project when you’ve put so much into it but you rarely leave with nothing. The lessons you’ve learned, the skills you’ve developed and the character you’ve built, will go with you into the next one and ensure your success.
Martin Luther King used this technique for guidance when doubting his path as leader of the civil rights movement during the 60s. He faced death threats, jail time, physical harm and the opposition of state governments and local police forces. In a candid passage from his autobiography, he describes the exact process he went through when considering giving up on his dream,
“I got out of bed and began to walk the floor. I had heard these things before [referring to a death threat he’d just received over the phone], but for some reason that night it got to me. I turned over and over and tried to go to sleep, but I couldn’t sleep. I was frustrated, bewildered, and then I got up. Finally I went to the kitchen and heated a pot of coffee. I was ready to give up. . .
With my head in my hands, I bowed over the kitchen table and began to pray aloud. The words I spoke to God that midnight are still vivid in my memory:
“Lord, I’m down here trying to do what’s right. I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But Lord, I must confess that I am weak now, I’m faultering. I’m losing my courage . . .”
At this point it seemed as though I could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice saying: “Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo, I will be with you. Even until the end of the world.”
I’ll leave you by paraphrasing Martin Luther’s message – live for what you believe is right. Stand up for what you love. The Universe will be with you, guiding you to where it wants you to be.