Spiritual Growth and Encouragement for Christian Women

3 Things They Don't Tell You about Following Your Dreams

3 Things They Don't Tell You about Following Your Dreams

“You can be anything you put your mind to” is what we grew up hearing—and believing—as children. And then television shows like American Idol were birthed with judges who had the audacity to tell us the truth about our pitchy vocals and overall lack of talent. 

“You can have everything you want” is what entrepreneurs want to believe from the experts who have done it all—and then wrote a book to prove it. We want to believe it; we work hard at the dream. There are times when even the best of intentions sometimes isn’t enough—just ask anyone who bought a house in 2008. 

For some, the weight of an imposed dream is crushing. It’s the dream of a parent, professor, pastor or spouse that was well-intentioned in the beginning but has become unhealthy. They went from encouraging you in your pursuit to being a poker stick intent on prodding you up the Everest you’re climbing. Others have been listening to an internal soundtrack of guilt for far too long: “You can’t stop now, what will everyone say?” “This was your idea, you can’t back out now.” Sound familiar? Those feelings of guilt have become the bitter taste of resentment in your heart. You feel stuck and you're looking for a way out. 

If that’s you, then read on, for there are many things they don’t tell you about following your dreams; here are three. 

1. The dream will probably change. 

And that's okay. What was inspired in youth and scrawled into a journal is something that you can deviate from. Tragedy or promotions, romance and financial stresses have a tendency of shifting your life trajectory. What may be your greatest priority now, as a single and recent college graduate, may change once you have a decade of marriage under your belt and a couple pre-schoolers doing laps around your knees. Similarly, you may find yourself as an empty-nester with a new found passion or interest that doesn’t really fit into the 10-year plan you perfectly penned late one night after putting your children to sleep. People change and so do their dreams; it's okay to put them on hold or let them go. 

2. You need to recognize when you outgrow the dream. 

It will probably happen. Your dreams can look wild and risky in one season, and in another, responsible and wise. Perhaps you are a more cautious person, and your biggest dream is something that falls into the attainable, rather than audacious, category. There’s nothing wrong with that unless you are 25 and planning to coast for the rest of your life because you can't come up with a new dream. Just because your business took off, or you are able to retire early doesn’t mean that you stop crafting new dreams and running hard toward new goals. Following our dreams isn't something we do for a season and then get comfortable; it's what makes our life a great journey—the continual pursuit of exploration, adventure, and dreams.

3. Failing to achieve your dream doesn’t make you a failure. 

There will be several moments in your journey when not achieving your most grandiose dream will be the best thing that can happen to you. In those moments, resist being pulled into a web of self-doubt and lies. Your dream may not have materialized as you wanted, but that one failure can quickly become the voice of shame that says, “I am a failure” if we let it. 

Your life will not be whittled down to catastrophe or chaos just because a dream hasn’t been achieved. You may think that way; it may feel that way sometimes, but that isn’t the truth. Sometimes a setback is simply a redirection. Other times a delay is the best thing that could ever happen to us. Media, culture, and society tells you to play the comparison game. We see the victories of others and feel that our dreams have to exceed their successes and that we need to fulfill them by our 30th birthday. 

Following your dreams is something that everyone is encouraged to do. The chants of what your life can look like and should look like is on repeat in our mind. It’s often hard to see that before others had success, there were failures, setbacks, and rejections; they experienced bumps and bruises that they aren't proud to admit—that's why we don't hear about those low moments. There were probably just as many start-overs and musings about whether the effort would be worth it. Doubt and fear, coupled with a lack of education, finances and time make following our dreams an insurmountable mountain at times. Some dreams will be worth jumping all of those hurdles for, others will not. 

You hear that following a dream is hard work, but changing the dream is not as popular. Surrounding yourself with friends and advisors who can look you in the eyes and say, “Time to start dreaming again!” is not a suggestion, but a necessity. As is giving ourselves grace in the moments when the dream isn’t coming to fruition. Letting go of the lies and shame that tell us “I am a failure because this failed” is what we must be bold enough to do. 

Please pray for me: 

Father, I give you my dreams-- as wild as crazy as they may be. Bring people into my life who can not only open doors and provide opportunities, but who will advise me in the process. Surround me with other dreamers who will encourage my ideas and effort, but also have the boldness to tell me when I'm being stagnant and need to dream big again. Above all, may I yield myself to the plans You have for my life—in all things, every day. Amen. 


Malinda Fuller and her husband Alex have served at several churches and para-church organizations in the U.S. and Canada for over a decade. Malinda wields truth and grace through the words on her blog and has also contributed content for Relevant, Thrive Moms and The Influence Network. Malinda and Alex currently reside in Southern California, where they are homeschooling their daughters, working in ministry and trying to not complain about the continuous sunshine.

Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com

Publication date: January 23, 2017