Discover What To Do When Your Detour Becomes Your Best Dream
By Heather Cherry—
Sometimes, in this crazy, busy, chaos-ridden life, we end up nurturing a dream for an extended period—only to realize it’s never going to happen. Setbacks are discouraging and likely leave you wondering if it will indeed remain a deep longing versus reality.
Things get even more complicated as life happens—when the to-do lists overtake the dream lists—and you find yourself detoured further and further from your destination. You become overwhelmed and experience a loss of hope—requiring more energy than you have to give. You choose to settle for what you view as a “less-than” option.
But what if your detour ends up being your dream? What if the thing you wanted wasn’t actually what you “needed”?
Dreams are plural and evolving. You are permitted to have more than one. Sticking with a plan for the sake of chasing it may leave you feeling empty. Shifting your thinking from waiting and anticipating is the difference between giving up and giving in. Embrace a vision more significant than your own and possibly set yourself up for success.
But how do you know which dreams to persevere or which ones to leave fall to the wayside? Here’s how to discover what to do when your detour becomes your best dream.
Know When To Walk Away
Dreams likely won’t die quickly. Chances are, your dreams are something you’ve been chasing for quite some time. It takes time to build a dream, and it may also take time for it to die. Recognize reality and listen to your gut instinct—what is it telling you? Is it telling you to persist, or is it suggesting it’s time to move on?
Sometimes chasing a dream can cross over into denial, which is very real and may cause more harm than good. Denial is an unconscious process that functions to resolve emotional conflict or reduce anxiety. The purpose of denial is to help you adjust to distressing situations. But if left unchecked, it can interfere with your ability to tackle future challenges.
Walking away from your dreams is never easy. But it may be necessary, especially if you’re being mistreated, feel like you’re being held back, or not growing. Growth is an essential part of happiness—it’s meant to motivate and challenge us. Not growing as a person—professionally or personally—can leave you feeling like you’re “existing” rather than “living.”
Walk away from your dreams if they’ve caused you to lose yourself. Maybe you’re not sure who you are anymore—perhaps you never did—but if you feel lost, it might be time to walk away from what you’re doing.
Evaluate and Assess Your Dreams
Dreams can change. It’s essential to adapt your goals because otherwise, they may become stagnant or, worse, lead to burnout. Burnout—often results from deep-rooted psychological or situational imbalances linked to unresolved core issues—is severe and can lead to exhaustion, insomnia, forgetfulness, depression, and anxiety.
Evaluate and assess your dreams to make sure you’re on the right track and avoid burnout. Start by making a list of concrete goals and build in a buffer for flexibility (remember, dreams can change). Firmly plan your dreams in your mind—it’s not enough to “say them.” Then, decide how you plan on achieving them. What skills, resources, or support do you need to succeed?
Revisit your dreams regularly, measuring your desire as it relates to your progress. Sometimes goals are based on a whimsical idea and may quickly fade. Assess if your dream is something that’s been contemplating for a long time, or is it trend-based?
Make sure your dreams are not inconsistent (or unrealistic). Goals should not consider your objectives in isolation. Develop a list and make sure they aren’t mutually exclusive of each other. For example, if your dream is to travel the world, setting a goal of paying off debt may not be aligned.
As you evaluate and assess your dreams, remember, if they make your life miserable, it might be time to call it quits—or at least revise them to be more realistic.
Sometimes achieving your dreams comes down to digging in and getting resourceful. Here are six ways to hone your resourcefulness and achieve your goals.
- Keep an open mind: Redefine what is and is not possible. Are your dreams intelligent, attainable, realistic, and timely?
- Remain confident in yourself: You are capable of handling any problem with the right tools and support.
- Think creatively: Sometimes, reaching your dreams requires a creative resolution. Let your mind wander. Don’t stop yourself from something because you think it is unrelated.
- Avoid procrastination: Be proactive by taking action now. Be more than an idle observer.
- Never give up, especially when things are difficult: Persistence is never easy, but always worth it. Not succeeding right away is never an indication of failure—it simply means you haven’t yet found the right solution.
- Keep a positive attitude: Revert to a time when you overcame a difficult situation. Remind yourself that you got through that, so you’ll get through this too. Each experience is an opportunity to learn. Is your glass half-full or half-empty?
Don’t Discount “Plan B”
There is no time limit to success, and the conventional path isn’t always the most effective. Consider Vera Wang, one of the biggest names in the fashion and bridal business, once an Olympic-hopeful figure skater. She competed in figure skating at the national level and nearly qualified for the 1968 Olympic Games. When she didn’t qualify, she was left devastated—a setback marking the end of her athletic career. But fortuitously, she developed a new love of fashion, resulting in becoming an icon in the industry.
Also, consider John Grisham’s success as an accomplished legal thriller writer. He was once a personal injury lawyer in Mississippi. Still, before his career in law, he dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player. His first novel, A Time to Kill, was inspired by a real-life court case he observed, which took him nearly three years to write. His follow-up novel, The Firm, landed him on the New York Times bestseller list for 44 weeks—he was later coined America’s favorite storyteller.
Then there is Audrey Hepburn—she wanted to be a prima ballerina, but World War II interrupted her dance classes. She then used dance for activism by raising money for the resistance. She was later discovered and became a famous actress.
Understand that when your detour becomes your best dream, it may not be, in fact, a detour but instead a redirection to the correct path.
Heather Cherry is a Marketing Copywriter. Her specialty is authentic storytelling. She self-published, Market Your A$$ Off. She holds a master’s degree in Professional Writing from Chatham University.