The Truth about Chasing Down a Dream

For several weeks, orders were unusually low. Our growth seemed to be stalled. I was getting nervous. I was starting to think our business had plateaued. Then, on a quiet Friday afternoon, I opened an e-mail that changed everything. It was the largest order we had ever received and it came from a customer we had been pursuing for months. It was a great day.

Some days, everything seems to go your way. All of your hard work pays off. You are on top of the world. You get that big order. You land that new customer. You reach a new milestone in your business or in your training. You make giant strides towards your goal. Your dream is becoming a reality. These are the best days.

The truth is, when you are chasing a dream, a vast majority of days will not be like this. A good day is an exception. If you are a leader, an entrepreneur, if you are trying to better yourself or challenge the status quo, most days will be difficult and progress will be slow. You will be frustrated and want to quit.

This is normal.

The problem is we expect success to be easy because we are exposed to successes all around us. It seems like everyone on the news and on social media is winning. Everyone is beautiful, thin, young and wealthy. Everyone is reaching their dreams with hardly any effort. No one else seems to be struggling as much as you are.

This is all a lie.

Chasing down a dream is hard and everyone who sets difficult goals will struggle. Most days will be tough and growth will be slow. Only those with grit and determination will achieve their goals. The key is to stay motivated during those long days when progress is slow.

To overcome the frustration and worry, try these five things to keep you motivated:

Take time and reflect on how far you’ve come. Change your perspective. Instead of looking at how far away your goal is or how successful others are, look at yourself. Where were you six months ago or a year ago? How far have you come? How much progress have you made towards your goal? Often times, seeing your progress helps to change your outlook.

Celebrate milestones. One of the best ways to accomplish a big goal is to break it down into smaller goals. This is something that Jon Acuff recommends in his book, Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done. He says to “cut your goal in half” and then celebrate hitting these milestones. This will give you a chance to regroup and refocus towards the next milestone.

Ignore the noise and focus on your own work. It’s easy to get discouraged by seeing others succeed or by listening to naysayers. I once had a potential partner tell me that starting a company in this industry was “impossible.” Comments like this can derail your motivation. It’s far better to ignore the noise and focus on taking action to get you to the next level.

Embrace the suck. This is a common military expression that is perfect when you are facing tough times. It simply means that you should consciously accept the hard times because, although unpleasant, they are necessary and unavoidable. In other words, this isn’t easy but let’s deal with it. Tough times aren’t fun but they make you better and stronger. So, don’t fight it, embrace it.

Start fresh daily. Every day is a new day to start fresh. I often tell my team, “we have money in the bank and air in our lungs, it’s a good day, let’s get after it.” Regardless of what happened yesterday, last week or last month, today could be the day that you get a breakthrough. You can’t create good luck but you can work hard and be prepared when the opportunities arrive.

When you’re chasing a dream, a vast majority of days will be tough and progress will always seem slower than you expect. With hard work, grit and determination, you can reach your goals. These five techniques can help you stay motivated as you continue on your journey.

{Photo Credit: Mari Armstrong}

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