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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

When Is It Time to Give up a Dream?

give up a dreamIn the previous post, I assured you that if you have the tiniest bit of hope in a dream, it is NOT time to give up.

So when it is time to let a dream go? Perhaps when the dream has gone unfulfilled for so long that you become disillusioned.

Note that discouraged is not the same as disillusioned. Discouraged signals low energy and doubt, but also belief. Being discouraged means you can infuse new energy into the dream.

Disillusioned means you realize that what you once thought was an achievable dream is in fact an illusion or a fantasy. Disillusion signals that you no longer believe the dream is possible. When you are disillusioned, you need to rewrite the dream or find a new one.

Dreams Change

There’s no shame in being discouraged or disillusioned – it’s normal for dreams to change over time. Some dreams are fulfilled (and therefore lose their power to motivate), some dreams evolve, and some dreams die (making room for new dreams).

For many people, the core of the dream remains constant, but the particulars of how they might achieve it change.

It’s okay to recognize that some of your writing dreams have died. What’s not okay is recognizing a dream one day and abandoning it the next. What’s not okay is giving up on dreaming altogether.

It’s valuable to recognize what dreams you’ve given up. You can then affirm, “Yes, I truly want to surrender this dream I once had; I have a different dream now.” Or you can reclaim the dream, “I’m not willing to let this dream go. This still matters to me.”

Either way, your next step is to take action on your current dream. Action always gives you another chance to fulfill any dream.

You Always Have a Chance

In his appearance on Oprah’s Master Class, Grant Hill assures us “You always have a chance.”

When Grant Hill played basketball for Duke University in the national championships, Duke was down one point with 2 seconds left in the game. Grant admits the whole Blue Devils team thought it was impossible to win at that point, but their coach, “Coach K”, wasn’t ready to let the dream die.

Coach K asked Grant if he could make a full-court pass. Grant said he could – he’d done that in drills hundreds of times.

Coach K asked Christian Laettner if he could catch the ball and make the basket. Christian said if Grant could pass it, he could score – he’d done that in drills just as many times.

Grant did. Christian did. And the Blue Devils won the championship.

Always Try CPR before Pronouncing a Dream Dead

If the Blue Devils hadn’t won that game, would that have been the time to give up their dreams of being champions?

No, it would have been time to rewrite the dream. It would have been time to tell themselves, “We didn’t win this championship, but there are other games, other seasons and other championships.”

Writers don’t have championship playoffs, but as Grant Hill asserts, sports are a great metaphor for life.

You always have another chance at achieving a dream, but only if you take action. As my grandmother was fond of saying, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.”

What writing dreams are dead to you? Which can be rewritten and resuscitated? What writing dreams are active and alive because you’re taking action?

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2 Comments on “When Is It Time to Give up a Dream?”

  1. mkelberer April 5, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    Great post(s), Rosanne!


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