Recently I enjoyed reading this inspiring article by Jordan Thomas in The Independent:
Jordan shares his personal experience where he failed to achieve his dream to represent his country in the sport, he loves the most – Karate, and how he recovered from that failure.
I’m sure many of us have fantasised about representing our country at the Olympics, and being a world karate champion, Jordan had a major opportunity to let that dream become real.
He did everything he could to achieve his goal, to make sure he was ready for the Olympics. As he says best, “I ate, drank, slept and dreamed of karate.”
All those sacrifices would seem for nothing, as his dream ended when he took a kick to the head, two seconds before the end of an Olympic qualifier bout…
This got me thinking what do you do when your dream passes you by?
“How do you wake up every morning and motivate yourself to get out of bed and take on the day when your dreams have been snatched away from you?
Well, you don’t for a little while. You grieve for what you lost and what could have been. You acknowledge that a part of you will always hurt a little and may never be the same again. But then you pick yourself back up.”
Having a dream shatter, will invoke a similar feeling to losing a loved one. When you’ve put so much of your life into one ambition, and find this is not going to be your reality, you will naturally feel a sense of loss, and you’ll go through the stages of grief.
Bide your time, get the support you need and accept everything you feel is part of that healing process. If you’re familiar with the stages of grief concept, you’ll know it ends with acceptance.
Once you reach this stage you can move on and figure out where you want to go next…
Accept the truth…
“We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream”
Peter S. Beagle
When it comes to achieving your dream have you ever thought maybe you just were never good enough?
You may find this statement uncomfortable, that’s because we’ve been brought up with sound bites like “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”
But that isn’t quite accurate, really the statement should say:
“If you dream it, there may be a possibility you could achieve it, though this will always be subjective depending how ambitious your dream is, and how driven you are.”
Okay my quote is nowhere near as catchy or inspiring to give you a warm fuzzy feeling, but it is a lot closer to the facts.
Dreams are dangerous things, as they always come with a degree of risk when you have one. But you have to face reality when the opportunity has passed or you will never move on.
Now I have thoroughly depressed you, don’t lose hope yet, yes your dream is now nothing but a comforting thought you once had in your head… it’s now time to find a new purpose.
“Let go of your expectations. The universe will do what it will. Sometimes your dreams will come true. Sometimes they won’t. Sometimes when you let go of a broken dream, another one gently takes its place. Be aware of what is, not what you like to be, taking place.Melody Beattie
“What is the purpose of my life?”
For those of us who have the privilege of living in a world where food, a roof over our head and Internet access is taken for granted, this is a question we often ask ourselves.
When you’re someone who had a dream, this is a question you’ve probably not had to ask because you’ve had some sort of vision as long as you can remember.
When that dream got shattered, that is when you felt lost and now you are thinking “What is the purpose of my life?”, which is why it feels so painful.
You can find a new dream by…
Repurpose your old dream into something new
If you’re an athlete, why not look at coaching the next generation?
If you’re a writer, why not get into self-publishing?
Whatever profession you were working towards you’ve developed a wide range of skills; identify how you can repurpose those experiences into a new passion.
When you’ve been dedicated to your dream you’ve probably made a lot of sacrifices, and you’ve definitely been so dedicated to the end goal you’ve been blind to other opportunities looking you in in the face.
You may have even spent so much of your time trying to improve in life, that you forgot to live it.
Now you are no longer limited by your self-imposed tunnel vision, why not experience more of life until you know what you want to do next – travel, meet people, try new things, experience nature… enjoy doing nothing.
How are you supposed to mourn something that was never yours to begin with?
I’m not sure where I first heard this, but I can see an element of truth to it, there is something that is quite stoic about it.
When you are in a position to not get what you want, use the experience as an opportunity to build resilience, develop a mental toughness to accept failure, and deal with hardships.
When researching this topic I’ve read some extreme views from people who have dealt with the prospect of having their dreams crushed by indulging in drink and drugs.
Avoid using these types of substances as a coping mechanism, as this is a way of avoiding the problem, and escaping reality. If you find yourself turning to these vices, seek the help you need.
Conclusion – failure is not the end…
Your life isn’t about one dream. You may think it is, but that’s only because you’ve spent most of your time and energy consumed to go down one path, when in reality life offers an abundance of roads to follow.
Because we’ve been brought up on rhetoric to “follow your dreams”, we often put way too much stock into following the one thing we want the most. When that isn’t realised and the dream passes you by, it can also feel like your purpose in life has left you too.
This isn’t the case, there are many worthwhile pursuits where we can apply our talent and enthusiasm to make someone else’s life better. Life is so big and complex, why should it be restricted to one dream?
When you realise you’ll never achieve your dream, find another one. If that doesn’t work out, find another, and another… and so on until you get there.
It’s scary when you no longer have that driver to get you out of bed in the morning, but part of the fun when you’re not sure what your purpose is, is the journey of discovery to find your next dream.
In this pursuit, we can move on – as one dream dies, another is born. In the case of Jordan Thomas, who I introduced you to at the start of this post, he has gone on to teach his passion to others, finding a new purpose to support others through their own struggles. In his own words:
“If I can help just one person cope with the inevitable difficulties life throws at us, I will have achieved more than I would’ve done by winning any number of gold medals.”Jordan Thomas
Keep going, you’ve got this.
Until next time,
Wishing you the best in your success.
James @Perfect Manifesto