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Why You Shouldn’t Quit Your Dream

Why You Shouldn’t Quit Your Dream

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:

“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:

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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

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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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

The world has become a very distracting place, you don’t need me to tell you that. Where once we could walk out of our house or office and disappear into our own world with our own thoughts, we are now connected 24 hours a day to a network that’s sole purpose is to make us available to anyone and everyone at any time they choose to disturb us.

Of course, it is very easy to sit here and say all you have to do is turn off your electronic devices and just allow yourself several hours of quiet solitude; but the reality is far harder than that. There is an expectation that we are available for anyone whenever they want us.

However, if you do want to elevate yourself and perform at your best every day, to produce work of a higher quality than anyone expects and to regain control over what you do and when you will need to regain some control over your time, so you can focus on producing work that matters to you…

The good news: You do not have to become a recluse. All you need are a few simple strategies that will allow you enough flexibility in your day to stay focused to do the work that matters and still allow you to deal with other people’s crises and dramas.

Here are 7 ways you can stay focused and be less distracted.

1. Find out When You Are at Your Most Focused

According to research, brilliantly documented by Daniel Pink in his latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, our brains have a limited capacity to stay focused each day.[1]

From the moment we wake up to the time we turn in for the day, we are using up our brain’s limited energy resources and, depending on the time of day, we will be moving between strong concentration and low concentration.

This means that for most people, their optimum time for sustained concentration and focus will be soon after they wake up. For others, it could be later in the evening—a kind of second wind—but that is rare.

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Once you understand this, you can take time to learn when you are at your best and to protect that time on your calendar as much as possible. If you can, block it off and use that time for the work you need to do that requires the most concentration each day.

2. Get Comfortable Using ‘Do Not Disturb’ Mode

We have the ability to switch our electronic devices to do not disturb mode. Where all notifications are off and your phone or computer will not alert you to a new email or message.

Now after testing this function for a number of years, I can happily report that it does work.

When I sat down to write this article, I put all my electronic devices to do not disturb, closed down my email and began writing. I am safe in the knowledge that until this article is written, and I turn do not disturb off, there will be no interruptions or distractions.

Of course, it is not really about whether do not disturb works or not, it is whether you are willing to turn it on or not.

Most people believe they have to be constantly available for their boss or customers. This is not true at all. What has happened is because of your always available status, you have conditioned these people to turn to you first whenever they have a problem.

You are not actually helping them at all. You are preventing them from having to think for themselves and develop the skill of problem-solving. By not being so readily available, you help them a lot more.

What it comes down to is your boss and customers are going to be far more positive with you, if you deliver your work to the highest quality and on time than you being available 24/7. Trust me on that. I also tested that one.

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3. Schedule Focus Time Every Day

This technique is a lot easier than you may think.

First, you figure out when you are least likely to be disturbed. For me, that is between 6 and 9 am. for a lot of my clients, they find the first 90 minutes in the morning at their workplace is when they are not likely to be disturbed. This is important because you want to be building consistency.

Most people start their day by checking their email and other messages. While they are doing that, they are not going to be bothering you. Now there is no rule about when you should be checking your email. The chances are email is not going to be where you want to spend your most focused time, so you can decide to check your email at say 10:30 am.

Dedicate 30 minutes from 10:30 am to 11:00 am for email processing and use the first 90 minutes of your day for doing your most important work. You will surprise yourself by how much work you get done in that ninety minutes.

4. Plan Your Day the Night Before

One of the inevitabilities of life is there is always a plan for the day. The choice is whether the plan you have is a plan of your own making or not. If you don’t have a plan, then the day will take control of you. Other people’s priorities, urgencies and dramas will fill your day. As the late Jim Rohn said:

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.”

If you take control and make it a habit to plan out what you want to accomplish the next day before you go to bed, you will find yourself staying more focused on your work and be less likely disturbed.

Now when I say plan your day the night before, I do not mean you need to spend an hour or so planning and mapping out every minute of the day. Planning your day should only take you around 10 to 15 minutes and you only need to decide what 10 things you want to complete — 2 “must do” objective tasks and 8 “would like to do” tasks. What I call the 2+8 Prioritisation Technique:

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Do not be tempted to go beyond 10 tasks for the day. When you do that, you do not have enough flexibility in your day to handle crises and other unknown issues that will pop up throughout the day.

When you do not build in flexibility, you will soon stop planning your day. Only plan tasks that will have the biggest positive impact on your work and projects.

5. Learn to Say “No”

I am sure you’ve been told this before. We are wired to please and this results in us wanting to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. The problem is we cannot do everything and every time you say “yes” to one opportunity, you are saying “no” to another opportunity. You cannot be in two places at the same time.

Jay Shetty shared an inspiring video on JOMO “Joy Of Missing Out”. Here’s the video:

Rather than allowing ourselves to be succumbed by FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out), we should replace that ‘fear’ with the “joy” of missing out. Because of our need to please, we say yes to things we really don’t want to do; yet when we do that, we miss out on doing things that bring us joy—creating something special, spending time educating ourselves and just having some quiet alone time with ourselves.

Learn to say “no” every time you get a notification to your phone. Ignore it. Learn to say “no” to your colleagues when they want to gossip. Learn to say “no” to volunteering when the thing you are being asked to volunteer for does not excite you. Just learn to say “no”.

By saying “no” to opportunities, distractions and interruptions, you are saying yes to better and more meaningful things. Things you do want to focus your attention on.

6. Create a Distraction-Free Environment for Your Focused Time

This has been possibly the most powerful tip I learned when it comes to focusing on what is important. Have a place where you do only focused, high-concentration work.

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Now this place needs to be clean and only have the tools you need to do your work. If it is writing a report or preparing a presentation, then it needs a table and a computer, nothing more. Files, paper and other detritus that accumulates on and around people’s desks need to go. A clean, cool and well-lit environment is going to do a lot more for your focus and concentration than anything else.

The dining table in our home is where I go for undisturbed, focussed work. I take my laptop or iPad, and only have my writing app open. Everything is closed down and the computer is in “do not disturb” mode. There is nothing else on the dining table just my computer and my water tumbler.

Because that is my designated focus area, I only go there to work when I have something that needs total focus and concentration. I am there right now!

7. Be Intentional

The reality is, if you absolutely need to get something done then you need to be intentional. You have to have the intention of sitting down, focusing and doing the work.

There’s no magic tricks or apps that will miraculously do all your work for you. You need to intentionally set aside time for undisturbed focus work and do it. Without that intention, you can read as many of these articles as you like and you still will not get the work done.

It is only when you intentionally set yourself up to do the work, turn off all notifications and do whatever it takes to avoid distractions will the work get done.

The Bottom Line

The strategies and tips I shared in this post will go a long way to helping you become better at focusing on the important things in your life. No matter what they are, you are in control of your time and what you do with it and where you spend it, never give that control away to anyone else.

Protect it and it will be your servant. Give that control away and it will become your master and that is not a good place to be.

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Featured photo credit: Manny Pantoja via unsplash.com

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