Let me start by saying I think it is wonderful when anyone achieves his/her dream in life. It doesn’t happen by chance; it requires a lot of hard work, passion, ability, and sacrifices to make it become a reality—maybe even a little luck to boot! Their accomplishments are certainly commendable because they never gave up. They faced many walls and succeeded. Congratulations!
However, for many others, pursuing a dream in life is much like playing a game—sometimes we win—sometimes we lose. No one ever said turning a life-long dream into reality was going to be easy. It’s great when we are successful, but many of us have to learn how to cope with disappointments.
We’ve all heard things like: we should never give up; the next door will be the one; keep trying; don’t believe it when others tell you it’s impossible, etc. Those are very positive-well-meaning-encouraging comments. I not only agree with them; I also say them because I believe them.
However, when I look at things realistically, I know pursuing a dream requires making a series of midcourse adjustments and “game-changing” decisions along the way. Although “staying the course” may work very well for many folks, it may not always be the best option for everyone.
What? I can’t believe I just wrote that! Have I turned into Chicken Little in my old age?
No, the sky is not falling, and I’m not Chicken Little either, but the statement is true in many cases. Many of us reach aTimeinLife when what we have worked so hard to become or do in life may not be possible to achieve. Saying it nicely, sometimes things just happen, and often times, they are beyond our control. I know because I’ve been there—many times. The path to our dream in life involves a long journey with many twists, turns, and “brick walls” that can make achieving them very difficult, although not impossible.
When reality comes knocking on our door, we must decide whether to continue playing the game the same way hoping things will improve, alter our strategy to achieve better results, or try doing something completely different. Being flexible and making adjustments during the game can actually be a good thing. In fact, that’s what life is all about—making decisions and necessary adjustments—finding ways to topple the “brick walls” we encounter.
To clarify what I mean, allow me to share a true story about John Dalton (not his real name).
John spent the first eighteen years of his life pursuing a dream to play major league baseball. He had big plans for making his dream become reality. He worked hard, gave it his best each year, made tremendous sacrifices, and battled through injuries because he was determined to fulfill his childhood dream. He was doing everything right. People in his community even encouraged him by telling him he was a great baseball player—he had natural ability—God had given him a special gift. Such comments helped John believe in himself and his dream, which was definitely a good thing.
When John was a senior in high school, a Division 1 university sent a scout to watch him pitch. It was late in the season, but John had remained hopeful he could make his dream in life come true because he was playing well. This was his first opportunity to display his baseball talents in front of an interested scout; it was his moment to put his special gift on display. The many years of blood, sweat, and tears pursuing his dream had come down to a single performance during one game. It was John’s judgment day for his life-long dream.
Unfortunately, John had a miserable outing and only pitched three innings before the coach had to take him out of the game. His “spotlight” performance did not reveal his true talent. What happened to John that day is anybody’s guess, but the result was he didn’t receive any scholarship offers to play college baseball. Reality was knocking on John’s door. He kept fighting a mental “go or no-go” battle to keep his dream alive, but time was not on his side.
His best friend Derrick said,
“Bo, you have to face the fact that you just aren’t good enough to play college baseball, and you better forget about playing big-league ball too. You need to start looking for something else to do in life.”
Derrick’s remark sent John into a downward spiral until he hit rock bottom. Reality had not only knocked on his door; it came into his room and punched him in his stomach. John’s dream was slipping away and he felt Derrick had betrayed him at a time when he most needed his friend’s support. The forbidden word “failure” entered John’s mind for the first time and his dream in life was quickly turning into a nightmare of reality. He was confused, dejected, and felt all alone. He didn’t know what to do next.
Well, Derrick actually was being supportive of John. When the shock of Derrick’s remarks finally wore off, John realized Derrick was right. In his cold-crude-negative manner, Derrick had actually encouraged John to stop wasting time and to start pursuing a different game in life—to make adjustments.
It wasn’t easy, but that’s exactly what John did—he made some tough decisions and changed his game. He chose to start pursuing a degree in engineering and wanted to become a pilot in the Air Force. He played the engineering game well, but the pilot thing never materialized. John’s less than 20/20 vision was another dream killer—he never became a pilot. Another dream vanished for reasons beyond John’s control.
John completed his “desk-flying” military commitment and started his engineering career with a large corporation. He worked hard, advanced through management levels, and retired thirty years later. Although John never achieved two of his major dreams in life, his game-changing decision to pursue an engineering career proved successful.
After John retired, he began reflecting on his life and realized the vicissitudes he experienced during his journey had provided him with valuable knowledge about life. He started pursuing another dream to help others by sharing his knowledge through writing inspirational/motivational novels and articles about the game of life. He felt helping those who were willing to learn from his life-lessons was the best use of his talents—it was God’s plan for him all along. He had to learn hard lessons before he could effectively help others.
When asked if he had any regrets about spending all those years chasing his dream to play major league baseball, John smiled and gave this response:
“Should I have regrets? God blessed me with a talent for baseball and I developed it to the best of my abilities. Yes, it was my dream—my plan to play in the majors. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t God’s plan for me. His plan was for me to use my baseball talents to coach youth and help them pursue their dreams. I’ve done that and it has been a blessing for me. If I could do everything all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Regrets? I don’t have a one!”
So, what is the point of John’s story? The point is that all of us need to have dreams in life, and we should pursue those dreams with passion and courage. It’s wonderful when our dreams come to fruition. However, we should also be willing to recognize that having backup plans are also important in case things go awry. It’s not the end of the world if they do; it just requires a change in direction.
One significant thing to understand about John’s experiences is that he didn’t fail to achieve his dreams. Instead, he simply made mid-course adjustments in life to pursue something different. Bottom line, John actually succeeded.
Part of being successful in life is recognizing our limitations and not being afraid to alter our dreams when it becomes the best option. Just because we have dreams in life doesn’t mean we possess the talent, abilities, or luck to make them happen. The cliché about continuously beating your head against a brick wall expecting different results each time isn’t a crazy statement. If you don’t alter your strategy when trying to topple the brick wall, the only thing you will have at the end of the day is a horrible headache.
When pursuing your dreams, be willing to adjust your strategy or accept the fact that you may not be able to knock the wall down. Changing your dream is not an acceptance of failure; it’s intelligently recognizing that you need to spend your time pursuing a different dream. You only fail if you decide to do nothing or give up completely. Move on with your life by making adjustments that are right for you. Then, hold your head high and celebrate your successes!
You Can—you WILL achieve your dreams in life!
Consider following John Dalton’s recommendation:
“If you want to be inspired to pursue your dreams in life or to help someone else, I recommend you read On Green Diamonds: Pursuing a Dream. This clean story features a young boy learning life-lessons while pursuing his dream with the help of a dedicated mentor. The plot is wholesome, thought provoking, and filled with practical content for all age groups—teens, parents, friends, and coaches. It’s available at the Amazon author link below. Read it and share the experience. Someone out there is in need of your help.”
Tom Tatum – Author – 2016
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum
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