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One of the most commonly held beliefs about dreams is that we must achieve them. Modern culture is full of reminders of the importance of achieving goals and manifesting visions. Almost anywhere you hear phrases like:
"Go for your dreams", "Follow your heart's desire", "If you can dream it, you can do it".
And these are just a few catch phrases that come in addition to all the self-motivational material on social media, in popular music, on television, etc. Everywhere we look, we seem to be bombarded by overexcited cheerleader squads prompting us to get to the finish line of every single dream we have ever had, but is it always necessary?
On the other hand, giving up, aka quitting, is looked down upon. "Don't quit 5 minutes before the miracle" becomes one of those little phrases that keeps us stuck with the same dream until "success" do us part. We become ashamed of wanting to move on, as if once you have decided that you would do something, there was some social and moral obligation to follow through. This puts a lot of pressure on people. We may not want to quit publicly, because we don't want to be seen as losers. The element of pride/ego plays a major role in this, as if our entire identity relied upon one single decision.
How about if we all move on as we please and change dreams if the ones we once had no longer feel like they support us? Sometimes it is good to do some emotional decluttering. It is good to remove whatever is standing in our way, is holding us back and impeding our growth. Change is therefore the only constant element. It happens whether we have control over it or not, and each stage of development has specific dreams attached to it. Dreams that may have once felt necessary, but no longer are. We should be able to go through these transitions without going on a guilt-trip every time we choose to do so.
Below, you will find 10 telltale signs that it may be time to move on.
1. It faded like a teenage crush
As teenagers, we probably experienced infatuation for a celebrity. We may have spent hours researching their passions, their lifestyle and we may have temporarily lived our lives through every article we could find on them. It may not even have been a person. In my late teenag years, I developed an obsession with the island of Trinidad. It started with a song I heard, then in my early twenties, I finally packed my bags and over the course of the next 10 years, it would become a large part of my identity, until my actual identity cracked the scaffolding. I didn't know it at the time, but the purpose of that dream had been accomplished. Teenage-crush-type-dreams paradoxically allow us to find our self while we may temporarily lose ourselves in a frantic passion for something, until it fades away and the person we have become, emerges and surprises us.
2. You have outgrown it
You may have felt passionate about something at one point in your life, yet suddenly the conversations you once had on this topic feel tiresome and empty. This is especially noticeable when you find yourself in the same social circles you once shared this common passion with, and you begin to wonder if the topics of conversations were always this uninteresting or if you just can't connect with people anymore. When we have outgrown a dream, people who were used to identifying us with this dream feel weird to us. They still see us as attached to that dream, whereas we feel alienated. In the end, some people will accept us for who we truly are, and others will irremediably stay stuck with the image they had of us in the past. This is life. We should move on anyway.
3. You have other interests and it's okay
Have we betrayed ourselves? What is going on here? How can it be that something else actually feels better than our dream? We never even imagined having other interests. Wasn't our dream supposed to be the answer to everything? Wasn't it supposed to make us happy forever? You know you may move on with life, when you begin to explore other possibilities and find more fulfillment in other things. Shifting the focus from blind obsession to whatever makes us a better and happier person can never go wrong.
4. You feel drained
In this case, it is not even about quitting, as much as it is about claiming our identity back. Sacrificing a lot for a dream that is not serving us is a recipe for failure and a very unhappy life. Dreams are supposed to nourish us, they are meant to make us grow. If you feel empty and you cannot even seem to remember why you had this dream in the first place, or you cannot even recall when last it felt great to follow that purpose, you may as well quit out of self-love.
5. You chose it for the wrong reasons
We all go through traumas in our life. Our wonderful instrument that is the mind has incredible ways of building a bubble when necessary in order to keep our attention off things that may deeply affect us. Sometimes we build defense mechanisms. Some people may find refuge in a dream. When a dream you once had becomes an impediment to your growth, do yourself a favor and pop the bubble. To nurture a dream doesn't mean that we should solely live in an imaginary world and refuse responsibilities.
6. It has served its purpose
One day, when you wake up and you find that the teenage crush has faded, something else catches your attention. It is way more interesting. It is way more fascinating. It is raw. It is real. It is the person you have become in the process. Because truly, it is never about what we get. It is about who we become. Dreams come in all shapes and forms to teach us lessons on life, people and ourselves, lessons we wouldn't have learned otherwise. So as each stage of growth has its dreams, moving on simply means reaching for the next level..
7. The fire is gone
Okay, let's be clear. Following a dream will not always be a straight line, the point is to be able to push against obstacles and move on anyway. We do not choose dreams because they feel effortless, but because they have substance. If you do not feel energized at the thought of it, if there is no fuel in there, you may as well re-evaluate your motivations. There is nothing worse than following a dream out of habit, simply because that's who we supposedly are and that is how others have grown accustomed to seeing us.
8. You are excited over a future that doesn't include this dream
Your value as a person does not depend on wether you can accomplish this goal or not. If you get excited over the future and this dream is not in the picture, you may as well leave it in the past. In this lifetime, we will be many people and we will have many roles, we should be able to glide through all of them effortlessly. Letting go of a dream creates a space for ideas and possibilities. Can you think of something else that you would like to explore? The whole universe is available to us at any time, there is no point in feeling remorseful about it.
9. You are more focused on yourself now
What drives you? What are your limitations? What excites you about life? What keeps you interested? These are the payoffs that you did not expect you would have. Maybe it is because you have invested so much of yourself in your vision, you now rediscover the joys of taking care of yourself. You do so just because you feel like it. Like a child who is now moving out from their parents' house, you are eager to celebrate your identity and your relationship with your inner voice has never been better.
10. You are at peace
In the end, no matter what people say, whether they judge us for not following through or they support us anyway, it doesn't matter, as long as we are at peace with ourselves. We may never reach the finish line because somewhere along the way, we have come across a less traveled path that called us. Detachment is freedom. It is not about giving up, it is about letting go to allow better things to come our way. Likewise, it is not always about following any dream, but choosing the right one.