Sometimes when things seem to be falling apart, our life is actually falling into place. Learning the art of letting go is one of the toughest challenges, but the most rewarding when achieved.
When it comes to dreams, letting go can sometimes feel like giving up.
But sometimes, a fulfilling life grows from knowing when to let go of one goal and trade that vision for a new one. Savoring what you’ve learned along the way is the key to happiness.
Life is a process of learning about yourself and finding which goals and dreams will make you happy. With this comes the opportunity to abandon some as well. The trick is learning to decipher the difference and having the courage to make the call.
Giving up an old dream is not about abandoning yourself, but rather honoring yourself. As you try new things, you grow and learn more about yourself. Your tastes, preferences and ideals change. Growing with the changes will help you feel more peace.
For the past several years, I have had a deep desire tucked into my heart to move to Hawaii to live, work and play. After spending years ignoring this dream, assuming desires like this are reserved for the privileged or independent wealthy, I pulled out my dream list and dusted off this desire.
Last March, I made this goal a reality by committing to live in Hawaii for three months. Spending, one month on each island (Maui, Kauai and Oahu), in an effort to confirm which island was best for my happily ever after. But after spending 12 weeks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, my desires have shifted.
Spending this much time trying out my dream has allowed me to peel back the layers and see Hawaii for what it really is. Just like ever other place in the world, it too, has its challenges, conflicts and frustrations.
I thought I was coming to the islands to clarify and live out my dream. And in essence, I got what I needed: I learned this dream had an expiration date.
In my coaching sessions, I have clients who ask, “When it’s time to let go of a dream?” I always say, “When it leaves your heart.” We can’t force things to be right when they feel wrong. Your heart knows what is best for you. Trust it.
Sometimes we have dreams that yearn to be realized and as we live them, we learn they are not what we thought. Maybe they aren’t our happy ever afters, but that doesn’t mean the dream was a failure.
Dreams are a lot like relationships. Some are meant to last a long time, while others are designed to be explored. Trying on your dreams is the best way to live a fulfilled life, but let go of expectations about the outcome.
Don’t be so hard on yourself if your dreams die. Changing your mind and moving from one dream to another is part of living a balanced life.
Even still, you may be wondering if it is time to let go of a dream. Here are three simple ways to find out.
1. When you no longer feel it in your heart.
Not all dreams are meant to last forever. When you feel the dream in your heart, it is time to act. Sometimes when we live out a desire, we learn more about the dream and ourselves, and we realize it is not what we want. If you don’t feel it in your heart, it is time to stop faking it and move on.
2. When it feels like a chore.
If a dream has exhausted you — physically, emotionally and mentally — you may feel as though it is too hard to make the desire work. And it might be time to let go. Before I left corporate several years ago, it was a constant uphill battle to make it into work. I hated my soul-sucking job and would cry on the way into work. It was a huge chore and I felt uncomfortable living it out. It was time to let go of that dream so I could open up to my new dream.
3. When you start day dreaming about the future.
One of the best signs it is time to move on? When you start to daydream about better ways of being. If you are living your dream but fantasying about a new direction in life, realize it might be time to say goodbye to what no longer works.
Many people feel reluctant to throw in the towel on their dreams because of the sinking feeling they’ve invested a great deal of time, money or energy into it. But when you can turn your attention to the lessons learned and the positive outcome of living out that dream, you will be able to see the bigger picture. Remember, everything is connected, so nothing is ever lost or wasted.
Sometimes letting go of a dream is the best thing you can do for yourself.