I know it’s hard, maybe even pointless, to carry on sometimes. Sure, you have good days here and there that keep your dream alive, but when it’s bad, it’s bad. While it’s normal to think that maybe the world is out to get you or that the reason you haven’t achieved your desired level of success is because you’re simply not good enough, stop. It’s not time to give up on your dreams just yet. Here’s why.
Dreams are constantly in a state of flux. As you evolve, so do they. And it can be really difficult to accept that the version of your dream now may be a shell of what it used to be 10 years ago. Regardless of what it is or how improbable it may seem, you owe it to yourself to stick with it in all its versions. Here are 10 signs that it’s not time to give up on your dreams just yet.
1. You still think about it
How do you know your dream is still alive? Because you haven’t stopped thinking about it. You can spend all the time you’d like trying to rationalize that it’s time to move on, but if you can’t stop thinking about it, daydreaming about it, or talking about it, then it’s not over. And who says it needs to be? Society? What do they know?
2. You suffer from burnout
While it may sound counterintuitive, burning yourself out from trying to meet your goal is a sign you’ve been putting too much time into it. And if you’re dedicating time to it, chances are it’s because it matters to you. While it’s never good to work yourself to the core, burnout is sometimes a necessary component in getting reacquainted with what you used to love. After all, absence usually does make the heart grow fonder. It also reminds you of what you loved about what you used to invest so many hours in.
3. You aren’t satisfied with what you have
Another sign you’re aren’t ready to quit your daydream is that you’re constantly thinking up ways to quit your day job. While you’re not always going to be satisfied with your employer or responsibilities, if the life you dream about is a complete 180 from what yours currently looks like, you’re not ready to settle for what you have — nor should you.
4. You have the energy to put the work in
We mentioned burnout already on this list. And while you shouldn’t run yourself ragged trying to do something, the very fact that you HAVE the energy to work at it is a sign you should be cognizant of. We tend to get tired a lot easier when we’re doing something we don’t want to do, so if you perk up while you’re working on something you love, you’re onto something.
5. You are still achieving (some sort of) success
If your dream is to become a full-time writer and you are fortunate enough to get one of your articles published or you obtain a freelance contract through Upwork, it’s not only an achievement worth celebrating but a success that shows you’re on the right path. Even receiving interest in one of your pitches (for example) is a sign of success—even if your words are never published on that site. And speaking of success…
6. You’re not necessarily discouraged by failure
So that pitch you wrote that got turned down lit a fire inside you. You weren’t necessarily disappointed but rather motivated to get your article published on that site, no matter what it took. This applies to every kind of creative pursuit, whatever it is. If your failure lit a fire under you to get better, it’s a sign that your dream is still worth pursuing.
7. It’s a dream you coveted on your own
What I mean is that this is something that’s held your interest on its own without any interference. For example, I first fell in love with writing when I was seven years old. My parents were both excellent writers, but identifying themselves as writers wasn’t their dream, it was mine. Did I inherit my talents from them? Absolutely. Was I coached to follow in their path? No. That’s the difference. When it’s YOUR dream and not someone else’s, it makes pursuing it all the more important because it’s what YOU want.
8. Doing what you’re doing just feels normal
If someone else were to look at your life, look at all the hours you put in, all the research you do, how often you practice to get better, they would probably get overwhelmed, asking how you do it all. Oftentimes, pursuing your dreams doesn’t really feel like work and feels like a normal routine, even if it keeps you insanely busy.
9. You aren’t sure what you’d put in its place
No matter what you choose to pursue, you’re going to have that moment when you ask yourself if it’s really worth it. You’re going to get burnt out. You’re going to need to take time away from it. That’s all normal. But if you can’t think of anything else you’d feel satisfied putting in this dream’s place, then that means you uncovered a lifelong passion — and that is not something everyone has, let alone pursues.
10. It’s who you are
When you meet someone, what’s included in your introductory packet? If you introduce yourself by your dream, then that tells you everything you need to know. If your dream defines you, then it’s part of who you are and it’s not time to shake it. When you love something — and want something so much — it becomes a part of your identity. I used to dream of the day I could introduce myself as a writer. Now I can.
While these aren’t technically signs, I hope they serve as reminders as to why it’s important to chase after and design the life you want:
You owe it to yourself
We could sit here and list all the reasons why you should give up on your dreams, but none of them are valid. Society makes dreams out to be this unattainable, out-of-reach thing, and the bottom line is that your dream isn’t going to be the same as everyone else’s. Just because you don’t achieve the ideal version of your dream doesn’t mean it’s not worth pursuing. Life is about the pursuit of happiness, not the end result.
Your life isn’t over
While it will someday end, that day is not today. Society has done us a real disservice, especially my millennial generation, who grew up believing that our twenties would be a cake walk. Now we’re 30, chasing what those around us call pipe dreams. By a certain age, you should have kids and a spouse, a career, blah, blah, blah. At the end of the day, you could do everything “right” by all the time frames you expected to achieve them and something could still happen that delays you for “X” amount of months, maybe years. Your life is not a race, and you’re not too old to pursue your dream, whatever it is. When you’re lying on your deathbed, do you really want to regret not spending more time doing whatever it was that made you happy all because some internet troll or people who didn’t support you convinced you otherwise? You’re only given one life. Make it the one you want.