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Are You Hanging on to Expired Dreams?

2012 November 5

Always remember, YOU have the power to change your life because YOU have the power to change your mind! ~Author Unknown

Expired Dreams!We live in a “Be all that you can be!” society, with mantras that drive us to cling to hope, whatever the obstacles, and never, ever, give up.

We’re encouraged to dream big and set goals, so we plan and we strive … but sometimes, our dreams remain just out of reach. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we never seem to get the right brakes.

And sometimes, we lose sight of why we wanted to achieve the dream in the first place. Still, we keep pushing forward because we don’t want to be labeled a quitter, or even worse, be accused of fearing success. After all, when was the last time you saw a motivational quote about the virtue of giving up?!

No question, goals and dreams are critical to keep us growing and improving. They prevent us from becoming stagnant and open doors to our full potential.

But could it be, that there times when letting go of a dream is actually the best thing you could do for yourself?

How do you know when it is time to let go of a dream?

When you’ve lost your passion.

When those nagging doubts in the back of your mind about continuing the pursuit of a dream just won’t go away, it’s time to take a close look at what’s really going on. It could simply be exhaustion from the constant struggle to succeed, or maybe, without even realizing it, you’re priorities have changed.

Take some time to revisit what made you so passionate about this dream in the first place. Maybe you just need to make a few minor changes in your strategy, or a slight course correction. But sometimes we hold on to a dream for so long that it becomes a part of us and, if we’re truly honest with ourselves, we will see that we’ve never really taken definitive steps to make it happen.

Priorities change, sometimes in such subtle ways we’re not even aware of it, so it’s important to regularly revisit your goals and dreams to make sure they still reflect all that you want for your life, or if it’s time to open the way for a new dream.

Opportunities are passing you by.

When we are passionate about our dreams and goals, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision. Keeping your eye on the ball is critical to success, but being oblivious of everything else around you means that opportunities can pass you by. If you’ve been driving blindly towards your goal, lift your head from the grindstone once in a while!

When we just don’t want to admit we’ve changed our mind.

We’re encouraged to share our goals and dreams so that friends and family can cheer us on, and so that we feel the pressure of accountability. Yet that same process can keep us mired in a dream that has long since expired, rather than admit to all those near and dear to us that we’ve changed our mind.

Perseverance is a coveted trait, and at the same time, we can let it blind us from seeing other more fulfilling opportunities. If you are feeling torn about holding on to a goal, or letting go, the best thing to do is to stop looking for advice from others, and take the time to think about what’s right for you … you are the only one who can answer that question.

When you realize you’ve been chasing someone else’s dream.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how difficult it can be to break away from what others are saying you should do with your life. We inherit beliefs, goals, values, behaviors, attitudes and dreams from our families. For example, you may have chosen a career in medicine because it was your parent’s dream for you.

How do you know if you’re chasing your dream or someone else’s? Close your eyes and envision your ideal life. Be radically honest and brave. If the life you daydream about is different than the path you’re on now, it’s time to change course. It won’t be easy, but your real life is out there waiting for you to claim it!

Sometimes you simply have to admit it’s time to let go.

Hanging on to a dream long after it’s become obvious that it may have been unrealistic, or that nothing you do will make it come true, is a waste of a good life … and sometimes, letting go is the way to achieving the dream. Have you ever known a couple to give up on the dream of having their own child, adopted and then ended up pregnant? I have. Sometimes we hang on so tightly to a dream we actually end up blocking it!

And, sadly, sometimes we just really need to admit it’s time to move on. When that’s the case we need to give ourselves time to mourn the loss of the dream. Letting go of a dream will always feel bitter sweet. When that happens, it’s important to take your time, feel the sadness, or you may even feel enlightened. The amount of power freed by telling yourself you no longer choose to put energy into something you’ve struggled with for so long, can be remarkable.

Goals, passion, and drive are what keep us moving forward and developing as people, but there’s no shame in changing direction in your life. As we grow, our values change, as does our perception of success. It makes sense that our dreams and goals need to be adjusted from time to time, too. Only you know if your goal still makes sense to you.

If it doesn’t, don’t let anyone guilt you into hanging on to an expired dream, and don’t be afraid to walk away and figure out what you really want instead.

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27 Responses
  1. September 4, 2013

    Just what I needed to read as I’ve written a book, titled, Hanging On To My Dreams.
    Thank you for sharing your insight.
    Arnold Henry recently posted..Hanging On To My DreamsMy Profile

  2. November 24, 2012

    I believe in never giving up and set my goals in little steps to achieve them. I would not set them so high that I miss all the opportunities that will get me to my goals. I understand that sometimes we choose and vision a path that has too may details that we loose the way. Then only to dream of it which never amounts in getting it done.

    I learn that we have to accept how ever you feel and what you imagine can be done. Only when you will accept that you will have to make huge sacrifices on the way. If you are not willing then you will only be left with a dream. Dreams are made to give you hope and start the process of you realizing things that may become your passion. Passion is just that and will move people to accomplish steps that seemed to be out of reach.

    My passion was always within me. I never lost it and it came to be. I live and love to serve others with all my heart. I love to feel needed and loved so I give that same with sharing my passion with all who ask. I found my peace and love it. \

    You can dream and allow it to fade or make those sacrifices that is needed to achieve your goals. It is always done to you and if you give up you fail. No one wants to feel failure and now you know how to overcome it.

    Great post and one that will stick with me for a long time.
    William Amis recently posted..Mastering ActionMy Profile

    • November 25, 2012

      Thanks for sharing your thoughtful insight William, always appreciate. I do believe however that in this case you’ve missed the point – which is not hanging on to a goal to the bitter end solely for the sake of completion or impressing others. It’s about having the courage to periodically evaluate the goals we’ve set for ourselves – too many goals are set without adequate forethought, and sometimes our goals are spurred by the passions of someone else trying to get us to accomplish something for our own good – hanging on to that type of a goal is foolish at best, and sometimes the waste of a perfectly good life.

  3. November 20, 2012

    Very wonderful post! I agree that a person should also know when to let go of the dreams and learn how to give much importance to what he or she has now. Chasing into one’s dream may not bring good to a person. We are unique individuals and more than that, we have different capabilities, wants and goals. “Expired dreams” should have been let go and start moving on. Haunted by this will bring frustration or may be depression. Two thumbs up!

  4. November 18, 2012

    Great post, Marty! I know from my maritime days that I held on to that dream for way too long. The irony being is that if I would have admitted to myself that I didn’t want to be a sailor three months later, I would’ve been at a point where I would have been very difficult to back out. Usually, if I back out of something, that means that I have probably kept at it way too long. (Then again, there are some fields where they seem to want you to think you want to quit before you see the light of the tunnel.) I guess the secret is knowing whether you really want the thing that you are working so hard to achieve.
    Steve Nicholas recently posted..Finding What You NeededMy Profile

  5. November 17, 2012

    Marty, your post has reminded me for the 2nd time today about Seth Godin’s book The Dip.

    It really is a fast moving, short concise little book chock full if common sense and think you would enjoy it, if you have not already done so! :)
    Sadie-Michaela Harris recently posted..Big Trends in UK Mobile 2012My Profile

    • November 18, 2012

      Hey Sadie-Michaela, thanks for the tip about Seth’s book. I’ve been a fan of his blog for ages, and have read a few of his books, but The Dip is new to me. I’m going to look it up today :-)

  6. November 15, 2012

    Hi Marty,

    I really appreciate how you showed how important it is to know when to let go of dreams that no longer serve our life or are relevant to us. It can be difficult to let go of a dream that we may have had for a long time but if this dream is not helping us we need to move on and find new dreams.
    Thanks for bringing this to light!
    Shelley Alexander recently posted..15-minute High Intensity Interval WorkoutMy Profile

    • November 16, 2012

      Welcome back Shelley, glad you enjoyed the article, and thank you for taking the time to contribute to the conversation. Always appreciated :-)

  7. November 10, 2012

    Hi Marquita,

    The only constant in life is change and that applies to our dreams as well. As we grow and age ( age is inevitable, growth is not), what we want from life does change.

    My dreams have moved from being selfish dreams of what I wanted from life ( family, home, travel) to dreaming of helping others and leaving a legacy on this planet.

    But most of all, I think that it is important to love the journey because dreams are usually the end result of a journey and that is life – here and now!

    Love your blog and your writings. I am so glad to connect with you Marquita.

    clare recently posted..What your tongue says about your healthMy Profile

  8. November 10, 2012

    I’m going to print this one out and read it a few more times, Marty. You’ve hit a number of nails on the head for me, and it fits with the soul searching and re-evaluating I’ve been doing over the past few months. It isn’t good when you put your real passion on a shelf to pursue other things, no matter how important those other things are. Thanks for the confirmation. :) ~ Willena
    Willena Flewelling recently posted..The Key to Network Marketing SuccessMy Profile

  9. November 8, 2012

    Hi Marquita,

    I totally agree with you when you said “Goals, passion, and drive are what keep us moving forward and developing as people, but there’s no shame in changing direction in your life. As we grow, our values change, as does our perception of success. ”

    You often have to be willing to experience temporary discomfort as you build the life of your dreams.
    Patricia Anderson recently posted..What if Your Life Purpose Calls for You to Change?My Profile

    • November 9, 2012

      Welcome Patricia, and thanks for taking the time to contribute to the conversation! I especially like your thought on discomfort … to realize our greatest potential, we must learn to view discomfort as a sign of growth! By the way, love your site – dynamic look and great message!

  10. Donna Spears permalink
    November 7, 2012

    I am honestly easily giving up on things which I think it is impossible for me to have. I have no strong courage to pursue each of my dreams. One thing that I have learn from your post is to become more patient with myself in waiting for the right time to have it.
    Donna Spears recently posted..Combine Style and Energy Efficiency with Timber WindowsMy Profile

  11. November 7, 2012

    Sometimes it’s for the best that you let go, sometimes you may even reach your dream and then realise that you need to let it go because it isn’t what you desire anymore…

    Regards, Jessica.

  12. November 7, 2012

    Hi Marty, my hand is up! I’m one of those people who’ve gone after a dream for a long time, before realizing it’s not something I really wanted in the first place. I DID enjoy the journey though, some of it anyway. And, I certainly learned a LOT from the experience.

    Regards from Julieanne
    Julieanne vanZyl recently posted..How to inspire visitor to subscribe to your listMy Profile

    • November 7, 2012

      I love the point you make about the lessons you’ve learned Julieanne! Life is all about the journey – we do the best we can, make course corrections and just keep on going. It’s an adventure, huh :-)

  13. November 6, 2012

    I have had so many experiences throughout my life. It is hard when the dreams coming true.
    Candice Michelle recently posted..guns holstersMy Profile

  14. November 6, 2012

    Hi Marquitta,

    what a refreshing post!

    There is so much well meant encouragement like ‘never give up’ out there that one could think it is ‘wrong’ or even shameful to decide to change direction.

    Yes, we may need to acknowledge our feelings and mourn the ‘lost’ dream and we may be able to appreciate what we learned in the process of attempting something.

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

    Love and Light
    Yorinda recently posted..Human EmpathyMy Profile

    • November 7, 2012

      Welcome back Yorinda! So glad you enjoyed the article – and you are so right about the double edged sword of motivation. It takes determination to do the work to fully understand what you really value in life, courage to set your path and go after it, and no small amount of self-belief (not to mention a sense of humor) to take the occasional stumbling block or detour in stride :-)

  15. November 6, 2012

    Hi Marty,

    Great topic and great points. Sometimes, we simply outgrow what we thought we wanted. The reasons why we wanted something could change as we mature, especially for big dreams. I had one of those 10 years ago. Was sure I “needed” it. When it finally came to me 8 years later, part of me was elated that my dream finally came true. But, in the end, I said “no” to it as I realized that I didn’t need it after all. My inner wisdom knew it all along, and was just waiting for me to grow into that realization.

    There is wisdom to recognizing it’s time to leave a dream when it no longer suits us. And, you’re right, that it’s bittersweet. We just need to honor the process and then move on to something much better suited for the evolved us.

    Alice Chan recently posted..What Do You Mean I Can’t?My Profile

    • November 7, 2012

      Welcome Alice, and thank you for sharing your thoughts on the topic of expired dreams. No question it’s tough letting go of a dream, but I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t more difficult when you actually achieve the goal (as in your example). For me, it’s always about what I learn in the process … good thing I have a sense of humor :-)

  16. November 6, 2012


    Letting go of a dream, or even a job, is challenging. Listening closely to the restlessness inside our soul is really key to knowing when to let go and go another direction. We need to ensure it is real, so we are not just hopping between “dreams” with nothing really being realized.

    The points you outline will help us discern when to let go. Really great post!

    Jon Mertz recently posted..How to Avoid Drift into MediocrityMy Profile

    • November 7, 2012

      Welcome back Jon, and thanks for taking the time to contribute to the conversation. You are so right about the importance of validating our choice to create change – it’s a fine line though isn’t it, because I think we’ve all known people who remain stuck in that undecided state for years, if not decades. Sometimes, ya just gotta go with your gut and take a chance. :-)

  17. November 6, 2012

    Hi Marty,
    I love the idea of letting go of an expired dream, it would be like eating food that is expired!
    Vadim Zealand explains it so well the important recipe to materialize what we want is to be aligned with our passion , who we are and let go of expectations.
    He also emphasizes the importance of making sure the dream is ours and not someone else’s otherwise we create an energy that pushes away what we are
    “struggling to create”.
    Thanks for the share and the insights;)
    Patricia Gozlan recently posted..Transitions: How to Heal Painful Emotions in Less than 20 Seconds With NLP and Ho’oponoponoMy Profile

    • November 7, 2012

      So glad you enjoyed the article Patricia, and thank you for taking the time to share your thoughtful insight – always appreciated! :-)

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