When is it Okay to Give Up on a Dream?

Life has a way of buffeting you about, like you’re on a stormy sea.  And that stormy sea can often disorient you, and knock you way off course, and daze you so much that you don’t even consider getting back on course until the storm eases.

You may have decided in your youth that you were going to be a famous, award-winning actor.  So, to make this dream come true, you attend acting classes, study drama, join a local theatre group, and embrace every opportunity to act that comes your way.  You may head to Los Angeles to break into the film industry like all those Hollywood icons you look up to.

And after several years of going on audition after audition, and not even getting a hint of a part in even the most random, low-budget film, you wonder if perhaps this acting thing might not work out.  You question your ability.  You compare yourself to all the icons whose ranks you desperately desire to join.  And you find that you come up short in almost every way.  You’re no Al Pacino or Meryl Streep.  And in fact, you’ve been told several times on auditions that acting isn’t for you, and that you should probably try something else.  You work in a café, barely make enough money to pay your rent, and all your efforts to become a successful actor have amounted to exactly nothing.

What should you do? Should you give up on this dream and dream another one?

This is the crucial point.  And it is a point which separates those who succeed from those who fail, those who achieve their dreams, and those who don’t.

Rocky Road

I always tell my clients about Sylvester Stallone.  This man knew what he wanted, and he pretty much lost everything in order to get it.  He wanted to be a successful actor just like in our example, but things just weren’t working out for him.  He faced rejection after rejection, was told over and over that he just wasn’t right for the movies, and that he should pick another career!  But he wouldn’t give up.  He was rejected over a thousand times in his quest to succeed, and still he kept going, meeting with virtually no success.

But here’s the kicker in his story.  He did, in fact, shift directions.  He didn’t do it purposely or with any great game plan in mind.  In fact, he was at what he describes as his lowest point, having had to sell his dog, his best friend, as he could no longer afford to feed him.

It was at this point when he saw a fight between Muhammad Ali, and the unknown Chuck Wepner.  Wepner actually went the distance with Ali, which was something no one expected.  Seeing this inspired Stallone, who began to write furiously.

Not too long after that, the film script for Rocky was finished.  This, Stallone reasoned, had to be his ticket to success as an actor.  He would play Rocky!  But of course, no one wanted to know.  Everyone he tried to sell the script to thought it was a silly idea, overly sentimental, and that no one would want to watch it.

Undaunted, Stallone continued.  He simply refused to give up.  He finally came across someone who wanted to make the film, but they did not want him to play the part of Rocky as he was not an accomplished actor.  They offered him a large amount of money, which he turned down, despite the fact that he had no money.  Finally, they agreed to his terms, offered him far less money, and made the picture.  The rest is history.

Two crucial things happened in Stallone’s success story, and they are why you know who he is today.  Firstly, he was absolutely unwilling to give up.  Had he given up after 20 or 30 or 300 rejections and listened to the naysayers, he would never have become the star he is today.  Secondly, he changed direction.  Remember, his dream was to become an actor.  But he turned to writing in order to accomplish it.  He was open to the idea, albeit perhaps subconsciously, that his dream could come true via a different route.  Had he not written that script and been so determined to play the part of Rocky, again, he may never have made it as an actor.

Is it Okay to Give Up on My Dream?

So, when is it okay to give up on a dream? Each individual can only answer this for himself or herself.  But here are some questions you must answer:

How badly do you want your dream? Why do you want it? What exactly does it mean to you? Just how important is it in your life? Can you look at yourself in the mirror every morning, knowing that you gave up on your dream?

What to Do?

If it’s not working out the way you had imagined, what do you do? It’s simple: be willing to let that dream happen in other ways than the one you have imagined.

What are some other things you could do that might lead to your dream that you’re not doing now? Is there a related area you could work in? Are there other ways you could get your foot in the door, different people you could contact? Write a list of things you think might work that you haven’t tried yet and get out there and do some of those things.

And as you do those things, understand this: you don’t know how to achieve your dream.  And you don’t need to! In fact, you will not know how you did it until it’s done!  You may have plans, but most of what you try will fail, and your plans will not work out as you imagine.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  That’s the way life works!

Be Flexible

So be open to change your plans, and not be so very specific on how your dream needs to come true.  The more specific you are about how your dream needs to come true, the more you limit yourself.  Leave the how up to the Universe, the Higher Power, the Source, or whatever you would like to call it.

And for your part, just keep going!  Always be doing something that you believe will lead you to your goal.  Understand that there isn’t just one way for it to happen.  There are lots of different ways it could happen.  The Universe is smarter than we are, so let it figure out the best way for it to happen.  Just stay determined and stay in the game!

Are you finding it hard to fulfill your dreams? What’s stopping you? Let us know in the comments below.


Dante Petrilla at The-zeit.com

Dante is an AUNLP certified life coach and NLP Practitioner, member of the American University of NLP, and also a Global Sciences Foundation member

Dante Petrilla has been studying the success literature for the past decade and used the techniques and skills he learned to turn his own life completely around. He transformed himself from a depressed person to a happy person once he learned to direct the focus of his thoughts and emotions. Dante is also a writer who enjoys writing in the personal development area.

Dante is an AUNLP certified life coach and NLP Practitioner, member of the American University of NLP, and also a Global Sciences Foundation member. He is currently studying to become an NLP trainer.

He is also the author of Debt Freedom, Change Your Beliefs, Change Your Life, and How to Lose Weight Fast, all of which are available on Amazon.

16 thoughts on “When is it Okay to Give Up on a Dream?

  1. i dnt know abt this… my dream…is more like a goal… if not achieved, go to your other thing, then the other, fail success, return to those things that you’ve failed when there is an opportunity… weight these things… if achieved, moved on to another…. constantly changing.. shouldn’t be a big deal imo

  2. I am sure most people reading this have given up on several dteams. Just as I have. I dare anyone to say they havent. Thanks you for this.

    • Well said. And every swcond there is a young woman or man giving up on their dreams. If one way does not work, find another way.

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