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When a dream is going to take forever, should you quit?

In this week’s coaching column, a reader asks: Am I too old? Is this dream going to take to long? Should I quit? Read on to get the answer to her question & more!


A road moving off into the distance over a beautiful purple and peach sunset

Dear Desiree,


I have a goal for making six figures in my career. I know a few women who’ve done it and it’s taken them decades to get there. I don’t feel like I have decades to spare! Do I really want to wait until I’m 53 or 63 years old before I get there? I’m finding all of this to be very discouraging and I’m starting to wonder if I should have started this goal at all. Should I quit? Or settle for a smaller goal?


— Deeply Discouraged in Indiananopolis


We often go after goals imagining how happy, validated and worthy they will make us feel in the end. We imagine how proud we would be, and how we would feel making more money, or getting married, or attaining our ideal body. But then we end up getting attached those feelings and…


Suddenly, we don’t just want the end result. Suddenly, we need it to be happy. Worse, we’re stuck being miserable without it, or at the very least, tormented with the knowledge we could be happier, if only we had that one thing we want so badly.


Our brain starts to crank up the urgency. We need to hurry up and get this thing done, so we can be happy. And if it’s a small goal, sometimes this strategy can work. But if you’re going to feel this urgency for over a decade pursuing a goal? Then, it’s not such a great strategy.


Even for smaller goals though, have you ever managed to attain one of them and noticed something curious? Maybe you managed to get that promotion or a raise, which you just knew was the key to happier. But did it actually make you happier in the long run?


For many of us, it hasn’t. We got a single smiling moment, before we simply moved on to wanting and needing the next thing. Somehow, the goalpost for being happy just keeps moving and we just keep waiting to finally get there: destination happy.


The problem here is that we think that happiness and our dreams are connected. They aren’t. They may interact, but they’re separate from each other. The truth is your dreams and goals aren’t meant to make you happy. They’re meant to grow you. Big difference.


Only you can make yourself happy (or withhold happiness from you). You don’t need to wait to be happy. Happiness is an inside job, and you can always chose it, no matter where you are on your journey.


And I know what you’re thinking: “But if I’m happy now, how will I ever motivate myself to achieve more? If I’m happy with what I have, won’t I just be stuck here? Living a mediocre and average life, when I want more.”


We are convinced in our culture, that the way to achieve, the ONLY way to achieve, is through pain, bullying, self-hate, sacrifice, contempt and even resentment. But it doesn’t work long term. Why? There’s anonymous quote out there that puts it best:


“You will never grow to your fullest potential unless you plant seeds of joy, love, fulfillment, hope, and success. Nature can only return to you what you plant.”

You can’t plant the seeds of misery and discontentment, and end up with roses and champagne on the other side of that. Let alone happiness.


In fact, I have a mentor who runs a weightless program who says, “You can’t hate yourself thin.” And you can’t bully yourself to achievement. Even if you succeed you’ll still hate yourself. You’re still a bully. You’ll still be miserable because how you create your results, is how your results will ultimately feel to you.


So don’t use misery and "not enough-ness" to motivate your wins or they’ll never feel like wins. Don’t dangle future happiness in front of you like it’s a reward you can only allow yourself to expereince by achieving it or you’ll never start or finish your best projects (which by the way, are likely to be long term dreams and ambitions — the best ones always are).


You are never going to be able to wait ten years to be happy. You’ll quit instead.


To make it to the other side of a long term goal, and be happy, you have to make the journey you’re on just as beautiful, meaningful and worthy as the end results you envision. You have to fall in love with the life you're building, and who you’re becoming in the process. That’s the only way to be happy, long term and overall.


So, do I think you should quit? Or settle? No, I don’t. I think your goal didn’t come out of nowhere. I think it’s meant to grow you and if you give up on it now, because you don’t want to have to wait a decade to achieve it, I don’t think all those deep desires within you are simply going to fade away. Dreams have a nasty way of haunting us when we don’t pursue them.


Instead, I want you to pursue your goal. Despite the time and effort. Pursue it using what you have available to you right now. Even though it might feel not good enough and too slow.


Second, I want you to make your journey as beautiful and as happy as the end result you want. Practice that. Celebrate every win you get along your journey. And don’t put your life on hold, while you pursue your dream. In fact, I wan’t you to get a life, and decide to be as happy as you can be now. No more waiting for that.


And third, I want you to let it go. When the wins inevitably don’t feel big enough. When the dream feels like it’s taking too much time, learn to turn your attention elsewhere. Stay busy. Keep a list of things to do when the doubt hits. A walk, a junk drawer that needs organized, that one bookcase that never gets properly dusted, and do that instead.


Then go back to number 1.) keep pursuing your goal. Then 2.) make the way your pursue your goal be as happy and feel as good as you want your results to be… Keep working your way through that list, from 1 to 3.


That’s how you build, not just a goal that feels like a pleasure, but a life you love along the way. In my book, that’s win-win, no matter how long it takes.


I hope that helps all of you out there! And with that, I’m off! I will see you all next week in the meantime here are some other articles you might enjoy:




If you’d like to write in a question for coaching feel free to message me on Facebook or email me at info@desireesommer.com.


As always, make sure to hit that like button, and sign up for blog so you never miss another post about being happy, and pursuing your dreams!


Yours,

Desirée Sommer




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