Why Dream-Chasing + Building The Life You Want Is Exhausting (and what you can do about it)
Today I'm calling bullshit and getting real about what it takes to chase your dreams, why pit stops are so important and why it is so damn exhausting (and exciting, but let's address the elephant in the room: it is fucking hard work).
If you're working to build the life you want, chasing your dreams, daring to live differently and make the world a brighter place, chances are you're reminded everyday about the things you should be doing or should be feeling.
It's so easy to feel overwhelmed, conflicted, confused and at times plain irritated.
Especially when we're told to chase our dreams in the form of over-simplified platitudes:
Pinterest yells at us that we're too blessed to be stressed, and from every direction we're constantly reminded of our own mortality how we only live once and we have to make the most of the life we have.
I mean, fuck me, that makes me feel exhausted just thinking about it.
It makes me feel like I'm being chased by a massive countdown timer which is also yelling at me to shut up and be grateful.
And then you have Gary V encouraging you to find a way to work all day then from 9pm to 2am focus on your side hustle (if you also think this is ridiculous, you're going to love this post by Jon Westenberg.)
While there are so many guides on how to reach your goals, how to make a vision board and how to build the foundations for a life you love, there's not much out there about the nitty gritty reality of what it all takes.
Hell, I love making a vision board. I'm in heaven cutting things out of magazines, gluing them down and picturing what I'd love my life to look like. But thats less than 1% of the grand picture.
Making the vision board, getting clear on your dreams and imagining all of this happening is one thing. It energises us and it gives us a purpose. And I'm not for one second saying stop: connecting to your why is one of the most important things you can regularly to do for yourself to give yourself the motivation to keep going.
But bringing it to life takes hard work, perseverance, grit and a shitload of courage.
And holy shit do we work hard.
Yet we live in a world where we're simultaneously told to try harder, work harder, hustle harder and put yourself last AND stop stressing out, have 'good vibes' and go with the flow.
It's pretty fucking confusing.
Some day we'll come to the end of the fucking rainbow and be bathing in gold, right?
Now I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like my definition of a wholehearted life. I don't want to spend my life running against the clock to have a couple of minutes of respite.
While there are guides out there about the work it takes, they often come in the form of productivity ebooks, motivational shouting videos where you're told to SWEAT, FEEL THE PAIN AND KEP GOING!!
They don't really address the confusion, the fear, the uncertainty, the exhaustion and the self-doubt that all happens largely behind-the-scenes.
And they don't address the bloody obvious: dream-chasing is just one part of the larger picture of our lives.
We still need to the washing-up, find a way to pay our bills, find time to eat, sleep and spend times with the ones we love. And that's just the basics.
When you add in all of our unique life circumstances, it's a lot more complicated. Maybe you have children. Maybe like me you struggle with depression and anxiety. Maybe you have a chronic illness. Maybe you're a carer.
The variables are endless.
No wonder we're so tired.
And confused. And overwhelmed.
Yet we keep telling ourselves that we just need to push harder, do more and for-goodness-sake, don't stop.
But really this is like having a car, refusing to put petrol in it, ignoring the MOTs and then kicking it really hard when you get in ready for a long journey and it won't start.
Or painstakingly taking SO much time to source and buy all the ingredients needed for the world's most complicated casserole and not having anything to cook it with or cook it on.
When I put it like this, it sounds simple. Because it is simple.
Yet as humans, we're taught to act as if we're superheroes, never complain and just keep going and going and going and going.
Instead of taking a breather, we're encouraged to try a new productivity hack; we're told to push harder instead of re-fuelling.
Chances are, when you feel like you just need more stamina, the thing you most probably need is a break.
Time to re-fuel.
Time to remember why you started in the first place.
Time to actually look back and see how far you've come.
Because you have come so far my dear. While it might feel like sometimes you're playing a game of stuck-in-the-mud with your fears and dream-chasing makes you feel like you're losing a game of snake and ladders, you have made more progress than you know.
Progress doesn't always look or feel like progress.
Progress can come in the form of needing to stop and recalibrate, looking at how far you've come and actually celebrating the wins you've made along the way.
Progress can be pausing and realising that you need to do things differently so you can sustain your enthusiasm, energy and momentum and readjusting your dreams to what feels good instead of what you feel like you should be aiming for.
In a world that has SO many opinions about what you should be doing, how you should be doing it and the speed you should be going, make it simple.
Go back to the imagine of that car and remember that re-fuelling is a vital part of the process.
Pit stops aren't an inconvenience but very, very necessary.
(And if you're in need of inspiration of what to do for your pit stop, check out my list of 50 ways to show yourself you matter.)
Dream-chasing isn't exhausting because you don't work hard enough, you're not making progress fast enough of you're not good enough.
It's exhausting because it takes a shitload of grit, courage, resilience. Chasing your dreams takes a lot of emotional, psychological and physical energy.
It takes a lot of standing up to dreamshitters, especially when the dreamshitter lives in your head.
Like Tom Hanks said:
And not everyone does do it. Look around you - the status quo rules for a reason.
It takes an enormous amount of courage and guts to decide to do things your way.
And when you are exercising courage, grit and resilience, you need to re-fuel as much as you can.
So know that you're not alone, that you're not weak for needing to take a break and that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
You can do things beyond your wildest dreams. You can have a bigger impact on the world than you know. You can use your own unique blend of skills, strengths, experiences and quirks and design your life your way.
But know that pit stops are integral.
You can get burnt-out chasing your dreams the same way you can get burnt-out doing a job you hate.
Have the courage to accept you have limits and start to recognise when you need to stop.
Because that courage is what dreams are made of.
Not Pinterest platitudes or working yourself to the ground.
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