Do you ever get sick of people talking about how they are magically following their dreams?
“I used to be playing music on the streets, now I’m selling billions of records and going on tour with Lady Gaga and life is great!”
It can be frustrating. Especially if your Kickstarter didn’t get funded or if it feels like you keep trying but it’s not panning out.
I hear you.
I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about how all the Positive Thinking and Law of Attraction dogma flying around can actually be a curse, giving us a false sense of what’s possible and preventing us from actually doing the things we need to do. (Paul Jarvis wrote a great article about it here, and the New Yorker featured this one by Adam Alter.)
As a positive person myself who really does believe you can follow your dreams, here’s my take on it all:
You can’t just ride on the positive thoughts and affirmations and hope that it all pans out. I actually do think it’s beneficial to do some of this, but it has to be backed up with two essential pieces: 1. action and 2. a deep, realistic belief that it’s possible. If either of those two pieces are missing, it’s all fluff.
On the action front:
It’s pretty self-explanatory, but you actually need to do stuff. Take it one step at a time. What’s key here is that you have to be ok with doing the small things first. You have to be ok with feeling small and insignificant at first. When you’re really committed to a dream, it won’t bug you if only 3 people come to your first show. Well, it might bug you a little bit, but you can use it as fuel to make the next one even better. Tame your impatience. If you’re gonna be in it, be in it for the long haul and just do the things you need to do.
On the deep, realistic belief:
Only you know what’s really true for you. You have to check in with yourself and make sure you’re following this dream for your reasons only - not because it’s the hot thing to do, the way to make lots of money, or the thing your mom always wanted you to do. If you go by those external beliefs, you’re gonna come up against some icky stuff. Be true to you.
So then, if you’re on the same page with these points and still feel like your dream isn’t coming to fruition, it’s time to do some exploring.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when it’s not panning out the way you had hoped:
1. Is it not the right timing?
Often, the timing in our brains - now, now now! - is not synced up to the “divine timing” of what is really meant to be. In the long run, it might actually be more beneficial for things to happen later, rather than earlier.
2. Is there something better or different waiting for me?
Is the obstacle you’re coming up against actually a sign that there’s a different direction you should follow? Look for the clues. See how you’re really feeling and where you’re being pulled. Do some writing or meditating about it. Don’t deny the impulse.
3. Am I being tested, to make sure I really want this?
Sometimes challenges come about because we have to prove to ourselves - or to some mysterious force out there - that we really really want it. Did Walt Disney quit making stuff when his newspaper job told him he had no original ideas? I think not.
4. Did I not call on all possible resources to make it happen?
This is where you can expand your version of actionable steps. If you’re a lone wolf who likes to do everything on your own, listen up because this one’s for you. The people in your life - and those not yet in your life - are your greatest allies. Talk about your dream often. Ask to be introduced to the connections you want to make. Enlist support and you’ll be amazed at how things can really take off.
Those are my thoughts. I’d love to hear yours.
Is a dream of yours not panning out the way you wanted?
What’s the biggest challenge you’re coming up against?
Share with us in the comments below. And share this article if you know someone who could use the encouragement.
with a blend of positivity and realism,