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Why You Shouldn't Quit Your Dream

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Sometimes you just want to give up. It’s not the most popular thing to admit. But it’s true.

In life, as you strive to make things better, they often get harder. There are obstacles, frustrations, and at times the journey to success feels never-ending.

But there’s hope. You’re not alone in experiencing adversity while working toward your dreams. Everyone goes through it. Stephen Pressfield explained why this happens in his book The War of Art:

“Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

Resistance to doing something that matters is often a sign you’re on the right track. And if you’re not vigilant, it’ll make you quit your dream. And that’s no bueno.

For a little inspiration to keep you working toward making your dream a reality, check out the stories below. They’re from some fellow dreamers who hit more than a few bumps in the road on their way to tremendous success.

1. The 4-letter word to get you through major obstacles

Born into apartheid South Africa, Nelson Mandela became a freedom fighter in his early 20s. His quest to obtain freedom for all South Africans landed him in prison for more than 27 years. But even while in prison, his commitment to and pursuit of freedom for all never wavered or ceased.

What was it that kept Mandela going even when serving a life sentence? A simple four-letter word. Hope. He noted:

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“During all my years in prison hope never left me.”

After his release at 71, Mandela continued his fight for freedom for all South Africans, and in 1994, his long walk to freedom achieved a major milestone when he was elected President of South Africa. It was the first election in the nation in which citizens of all races were allowed to vote.

Lesson:

You must never give up hope that your vision will happen. Hope is even more important when what looks like insurmountable obstacles come. So hold on to your hope and use it to keep marching toward your goal, even if your strides feel a bit small at times.

How to make the lesson work for you:

Remember the overarching purpose behind why you are pursuing your dream. For Nelson Mandela, it was freedom for all. What is it to you? Write down your answer, and refer to it often (especially when obstacles appear).

2. The secret weapon that gives you additional strength

Famed writer Stephen King has written more than 50 books. Each one has been a worldwide bestseller, and several were made into feature films. But his epic career as a published author may have never happened had it not been for his wife Tabby.

Back when King was writing Carrie, his first published novel, he got so frustrated with it, he threw it in the trash. He describes the way things went down this way:

“I couldn’t see wasting two weeks, maybe even a month, creating a novella I didn’t like and wouldn’t be able to sell. So I threw it away.

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The next night, when I came home from school, Tabby had the pages. She’d spied them while emptying my wastebasket, had shaken the cigarette ashes off the crumpled balls of paper, smoothed them out, and sat down to read them. She wanted me to go on with it, she said. She wanted to know the rest of the story. I told her I didn’t know jack-sh*t about high school girls. She said she’d help me with that part. She had her chin tilted down and was smiling in that severely cute way of hers. ‘You’ve got something here,’ she said. ‘I really think you do.’”

Lesson:

You need at least one person in your life who won’t let you quit. You need someone in your circle who believes in you, even when you don’t.

How to make the lesson work for you:

Make a list of at least three people who can be your confidants as you pursue your dream. Then share your goals with them, including the overarching purpose that’s driving you.

As you work to make your dream your reality, include your support system in the journey. Tell them about your successes, frustrations, and progress. The more they get invested in your success, the easier it will be for them to push you forward, even when you don’t feel like moving.

3. The hammer to break through glass barriers

As a soloist in the American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland is only the third African-American female to have achieved this feat.

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Her success as a ballerina earned her endorsement deals with Under Armour and Coach. She also gets lots of attention outside the traditional ballet world. Like when she starred in one of Prince’s music videos.

But her journey to life as a professional ballerina was unlike that of almost all others. Copeland explains:

“I think everything that I represent, simply by looking at me shows that I’m an unlikely ballerina. I didn’t start dancing until I was 13 years old which is far too late for most to make it as a professional. I’m African-American, which is very rare to see in the high levels of the ballet world. I’m muscular, and curvy, and I have a bust, so all of those things were things working against me. I think I have broken some ideas about the way people think about ballet.”

Lesson:

Sometimes the odds will be against you. Don’t let less than optimal circumstances stop you before you even get started. Instead, tear down those barriers and destroy the preconceived ideas that have held others back. As you do, you’ll demonstrate that there’s more than one way to spell success.

How to make the lesson work for you:

Make a list of every reason why you shouldn’t pursue your dream. Be sure to include your fears, what the naysayers have proclaimed, and all the statistics that support their arguments.

Next, write down all the reasons why you should pursue your dream. Include your overarching mission, who supports you, and why your differences are a good thing. Use that information to build a strategy to help you conquer the obstacles on your “shouldn’t” list.

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By building a plan to overcome the less than favorable odds, you’ll be in a better frame of mind to not let them stop your forward progress.

4. The reason to applaud each failure

Once James Dyson put his bagless Dyson G-Force vacuum cleaner on the market, it was an instant hit. Today, his company Dyson sells more than $2 billion in vacuums and other products.

The path to creating the hit vacuum cleaners was a long one. Dyson talks of why he didn’t give up during his 15 year pursuit of creating the perfect vacuum.

“There are countless times an inventor can give up on an idea. By the time I made my 15th prototype, my third child was born. By 2,627, my wife and I were really counting our pennies. By 3,727, my wife was giving art lessons for some extra cash. There were tough times, but each failure brought me closer to solving the problem. It wasn’t the final prototype that made the struggle worth it. The process bore the fruit. I just kept at it.”

Lesson:

Embrace failures as opportunities. Each failure brings a lesson that can get you closer to figuring out your optimal path to success.

How to make the lesson work for you:

With each failure, take the time to document what you did, what went wrong, and what you learned. Then use that information to guide your decision making to improve your next attempt.

5. The way to make disaster not the end of the story

As head of a multi-million dollar empire, Martha Stewart appeared unstoppable. Then she was convicted for obstruction of justice and making false statements about her ImClone stock. As a result, she spent five months in prison.

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Such a public fall from grace would have ended the careers of many. But Martha was determined not to let disaster get the best of her. Since her release from prison, Stewart reclaimed leadership of her company, has had two new television shows, and is back in the good graces of the public.

Stewart reflected on what fueled her comeback:

“When you know inside that you’re good, that you’ve done well, and that you are an honest good person, then you know that you can live through disaster. I don’t want to be defined by a moment in time. That was a moment. It’s passed. I don’t think about it anymore.”

Lesson:

You can live through disaster. And you can come back better than ever. But to do so, you have to let your actions change the narrative of your legacy for the better. If you don’t want others to focus on your mistakes, you can’t either.

How to make the lesson work for you:

Identify the lessons you learned as a result of living through a disastrous experience. Then use those lessons to create a plan for how to change the conversation people have about you.

That could mean engaging in activities that prevent others from repeating your mistakes the way Mike Vick did. Or it could mean using your talents to do good in other ways that will overshadow disappointments from your past over time.

It’s time to relentlessly pursue your dream

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Don’t let anything stop you. Not the resistance, the obstacles, your self-doubt, your circumstances, the length of the journey, your failures, or your past.

If your soul has resolved that it will not rest until your dream is your reality, then don’t quit. Keep going. Put in the necessary work, get the help you need, and keep going.

Eventually, you will get there.

But only if you don’t quit.

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