How to let go of a lifelong dream | Psyche Guides - Deepstash

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When lifelong dreams crumble

When lifelong dreams crumble

All of us have hopes and dreams for the future that become part of our identity. But then reality gets in the way. Your passion may fade, or the obstacles to realising the dream may become too big to overcome. You may have feelings of regret and failure, or fear how others will judge you.

We should take comfort in knowing that being adaptable and flexible in our ambitions is just as important as being gritty and determined.

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Goal adjustment capacity

Psychologists see goal adjustment capacity as a beneficial form of 'self-regulation' or 'self-management.'

It contains two parts:

  1. The ability to disengage from fruitless goals
  2. The ability to know when and how to change to new, more productive goals.

Those who are flexible and adaptable are generally happier, perform better. They often get promoted. If you are thinking of giving up your dream, it suggests you have a healthy willingness to adjust and adapt.

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Come to terms with your decision

As you let go of your dream, you may fear you're making a mistake.

  • There's no calculus for knowing when to give up. If pursuing your dream comes at great personal cost to your relationships and other goals in life (which is different from a 'harmonious passion'), that would suggest it was wise to give it up.
  • Success is not all or nothing. You may not have fulfilled your dream, but you likely learned much along the way, giving you a chance to redirect your energy and passions in new ways.

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Be realistic about what you're giving up

Giving up your dream will hurt, at least for a time. To drop this vision of your future-self is to drop a piece of you.

To help you move on, It helps to focus on the negative implications of your dream. If we are realistic, many of our dreams are romanticised. We may think of doctors as healing people, but their daily reality is far more mundane.

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Find a new passion

When letting go of an impossible dream, you're freeing yourself up for a potentially more rewarding project.

If you dreamed of playing professional football, you could become a coach (and still play for your local club at the weekends). Or you might find a completely different direction more appealing.

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Moving on from past dreams

You can relieve the sense of regret you feel about giving up a dream by doing the following exercise:

  • On the first day, spend some time writing about friends and peers you know have regrets about dreams they've let go.
  • On day two, write about the external factors beyond your control that led to you giving up a dream.
  • On day three, write about your new dreams, why they're exciting and enjoyable, and how they benefit others in your life or community.

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