Most of us have dreams for our future. We have goals we’ve set and hope to reach. We’ve made progress toward our desired destination. But sometimes we hit a plateau along the way. We encounter an obstacle of some kind. Maybe even a wall that seems insurmountable. At some point, we must answer the important question of whether we should stay the course or abandon it. Whether we should continue to pursue our dream or give up on it.
The fact is, sometimes we just don’t know whether we should press on toward victory, or abandon the journey. Sometimes we begin to suspect that reaching the destination is not so likely. Do we press on, or do we quit? Do we continue the battle, or surrender? Should we count our losses and save our energy for something else? Or should we increase our commitment?
Here are 4 questions to ask when you must decide one way or the other.
1. Do you feel the dream is still alive?
When we first have a dream, we’re energized. We want to stop everything and begin the pursuit. We believe we can reach the goal if we just give it our best effort. We can almost taste victory. But not all dreams live forever. Sometimes they lose their lustre, they fade, and they die. That’s okay. We clearly can’t pursue every dream we ever have. None of us lives the required 500 years to do so. So, ask yourself: Is your dream still alive? Does it excite you to think about it?
Is your dream as vibrant as it once was? If so, you should probably stay the course. Most routes to our dreams are jagged and winding. They’re almost never a straight line. But sometimes the detours actually help us on the journey. Sometimes the detours clarify the route in a way nothing else can. So, if your dream is alive, don’t give up just yet. You might be closer to success than you realize.
2. Do you have the energy required to continue?
All worthwhile pursuits require energy. If reaching goals was easy and required little effort, everyone would be reaching them. But reaching goals requires effort. The bigger the goal, the greater the effort required. Some people abandon their dream simply because they run out of energy. They get too tired to carry on.
Even thinking about the pursuit leads them to watch television or take a nap. Or both. You probably have a pretty good idea whether or not you have the required energy to reach your destination. Knowing it will require energy, it’s a good idea to take inventory of your supply.
Of course, tenacity requires energy. In fact, the concept of tenacity implies perseverance, persistence, and steadfastness. None of these is possible without energy. Without energy, the ability to advance is lost. Like a car out of gas, or a phone with a dead battery, or a fire out of fuel. Energy is required to move toward our dream. But even though you lack the energy necessary to follow your current dream, a new dream might energize you in surprising ways. It may be time to find a new pursuit that will provide the energy needed to make it happen.
3. Are you sure it was your dream, to begin with?
Plenty of people get halfway to the fulfilment of their dream only to discover it was never really their dream, to begin with. It was more or less imposed on them. By a parent, By a partner, By a friend or By a well-meaning colleague. It’s difficult enough to reach a challenging goal when we are totally sold on reaching it. When the dream is unmistakably our own. When it is something we want more than anything else. But sometimes the dream we’re pursuing actually belongs to someone else. It’s their dream, not ours.
4. Are you prepared to set a deadline?
Sometimes it’s helpful to set a deadline for when we’ll decide whether to advance or retreat. Determine a reasonable amount of time to devote to the pursuit, then make the call. The future deadline is more art than science. But having a deadline will provide you with some focus. It’s easy to get sucked into the pursuit of a goal and lose all sense of time and reason. Before we know it, we’ve invested far more than we ever intended. We wonder how we ever got to this point. So set a deadline.
Tell yourself that by this date, you will either press on or turn back. Mark it on your calendar. When the date arrives, make your decision. If you feel you aren’t quite ready when the date arrives, agree to set one more deadline. But let the second deadline be the final one. Continually resetting the deadline is just a sophisticated form of procrastination.
With some good fortune, the date will arrive, you’ll make the decision to continue the effort, and you will reach your goal. If not, determining the goal is no longer worthy of your best efforts is valuable knowledge. You’ll be able to use your resources on a goal more worthy of them.
Hopefully, these 6 questions will help you when you reach a crossroads and must decide whether to continue on or turn back.
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