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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 September 28, 2020

How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

There’s no denying that goals are necessary. After all, they give life meaning and purpose. However, goals don’t simply achieve themselves—you need to write an action plan to help you reach your goals.

With an action plan, you’ll have a clear idea of how to get where you want to go, what it will take to get there, and how you’ll find the motivation to keep driving forward. Without creating a plan, things have a way of not working out as you waver and get distracted.

With that in mind, here’s how you can set goals and action plans that will help you achieve any personal goal you’ve set.

1. Determine Your “Why”

Here’s a quick experiment for you to try right now: Reflect on the goals you’ve set before. Now, think about the goals you reached and those you didn’t. Hopefully, you’ll notice a common theme here.

The goals you were successful in achieving had a purpose. Those goals you failed to accomplish did not. In other words, you knew why you put these goals in place, which motivated you to follow through.

Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Finding Purpose for You and Your Team, explains:

“Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward.”

That, in turn, enables better decision-making and clearer choices.

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I’ll share with you a recent example of this in my life. Earlier this year, I decided to make my health a bigger priority, specifically losing weight. I set this goal because it gave me more energy at work, improved my sleep, and helped me be a better father—I really didn’t care for all that wheezing every time I played with my kids.

Those factors all gave me a long-term purpose, not a superficial short-term goal like wanting to look good for an event.

Before you start creating an action plan, think about why you’re setting a new goal. Doing so will guide you forward on this journey and give you a North Star to point to when things get hard (and they inevitably will).

2. Write Down Your Goal

If you really want to know how to create an action plan for goals, it’s time to get your goals out of your head and onto a piece of paper. While you can also do this electronically through an app, research has found that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goal if it’s written down[1].

This is especially true for business owners. If they don’t schedule their time, it’ll be scheduled for them.[2]

When you physically write down a goal, you’re accessing the left side of the brain, which is the literal, logical side. As a result, this communicates to your brain that this is something you seriously want to do.

3. Set a SMART Goal

A SMART goal pulls on a popular system in business management[3]. That’s because it ensures the goal you’ve set is both realistic and achievable. It can also be used as a reference to guide you through your action plan.

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Use SMART goals to create a goal action plan.

     

    By establishing a SMART goal, you can begin to brainstorm the steps, tasks, and tools you’ll need to make your actions effective.

    • Specific: You need to have specific ideas about what you want to accomplish. To get started, answer the “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and why.
    • Measurable: To make sure you’re meeting the goal, establish tangible metrics to measure your progress. Identify how you’ll collect the data.
    • Attainable: Think about the tools or skills needed to reach your goal. If you don’t possess them, figure out how you can attain them.
    • Relevant: Why does the goal matter to you? Does it align with other goals? These types of questions can help you determine the goal’s true objective — and whether it’s worth pursuing.
    • Time-bound: Whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly target, deadlines can motivate us to take action sooner than later.

    Learn more about setting a SMRT goal here: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

    4. Take One Step at a Time

    Have you ever taken a road trip? You most likely had to use a map to navigate from Point A to Point B. The same idea can be applied to an action plan.

    Like a map, your action plan needs to include step-by-step instructions on how you’ll reach your goal. In other words, these are mini goals that help you get where you need to go.

    For example, if you wanted to lose weight, you’d consider smaller factors like calories consumed and burned, minutes exercised, number of steps walked, and quality of sleep. Each plays a role in weight loss.

    This may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it makes your action plan seem less overwhelming and more manageable. Most importantly, it helps you determine the specific actions you need to take at each stage.

    5. Order Your Tasks by Priority

    With your action steps figured out, you’ll next want to review your list and place your tasks in the order that makes the most sense. This way, you’re kicking things off with the most important step to make the biggest impact, which will ultimately save time.

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    For example, if you have a sedentary job and want to lose weight, the first step should be becoming even a little more active. From there, you can add more time to your workout plan.

    The next step could be changing your diet, like having a salad before dinner to avoid overeating, or replacing soda with sparkling water.

    Learn these tips to prioritize better: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    6. Schedule Your Tasks

    Setting a deadline for your goal is a must; it prevents you from delaying the start of your action plan. The key, however, is to be realistic. It’s highly unlikely, for example, that you’ll lose 20 pounds within two weeks. It’s even less likely that you’ll keep it off.

    What’s more, you should also assign tasks a start and end date for each action step you’ve created, as well as a timeline for when you’ll complete specific tasks. Adding them to your schedule ensures that you stay focused on these tasks when they need to happen, not letting anything else distract you.

    For example, if you schedule gym time, you won’t plan anything else during that time frame.

    Beware the temptation to double-book yourself—some activities truly can be combined, like a run while talking to a friend, but some can’t. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can both write and catch up on Netflix simultaneously.

    While you can use a paper calendar or planner, an online calendar may be a better option. You can use it to set deadlines or reminders for when each step needs to be taken, and it can be shared with other people who need to be in the know (like your running buddy or your mentor).

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    7. Stay on Track With Healthy Habits

    Without healthy habits, it’s going to be even more challenging to reach your goal. You could hit the gym five days a week, but if you’re grabbing burgers for lunch every day, you’re undoing all your hard work.

    Let’s say your goal is more career-oriented, like becoming a better public speaker. If you practice your speeches at Toastmasters meetings but avoid situations where you’ll need to be unrehearsed—like networking gatherings or community meetings—you’re not helping yourself.

    You have to think about what will help transform you into the person you want to be, not just what’s easiest or most comfortable.

    8. Check off Items as You Go

    You may think you’ve spent a lot of time creating lists. Not only do they help make your goals a reality, but lists also keep your action plan organized, create urgency, and help track your progress. Because lists provide structure, they reduce anxiety.

    There’s something else special about lists of tasks completed. When you cross off a task in your action plan, your brain releases dopamine[4]. This reward makes you feel good, and you’ll want to repeat this feeling.

    If you crossed out on your calendar the days you went to the gym, you’d want to keep experiencing the satisfaction of each bold “X.” That means more motivation to go the gym consistently.

    9. Review and Reset as Necessary

    Achieving any personal goal is a process. Although it would be great if you could reach a goal overnight, it takes time. Along the way, you may experience setbacks. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, schedule frequent reviews—daily, weekly, or monthly—to see how you’re progressing.

    If you aren’t where you’d hoped to be, you may need to alter your action plan. Rework it so you’re able to reach the goal you’ve set.

    The Bottom Line

    When you want to learn how to set goals and action plans—whether you want to lose weight, learn a new skill, or make more money—you need to create a realistic plan to get you there. It will guide you in establishing realistic steps and time frames to achieve your goal. Best of all, it will keep you on track when you stumble, and we all do.

    More on Goal Action Plans

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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