vectorstock_1551927Today, I was scrolling through the news and articles on the Internet. I scrolled through headlines about passion and following your dreams. I paused and thought a little more about it. It’s pretty easy to advocate for following your passion and your dreams, when you’re actually doing it. But, there’s another side to this idea.

There are countless numbers of individuals out there who are unable to see beyond dealing with the suffocating boss or the mortgage payments. They probably see passing messages from authors, bloggers and others telling them they need to “just do it”. “A life on your terms is just around the corner.” “Follow your dreams and make $100,000!”

I thought of someone I know who goes to work every day and hates it. “Hate” is not a strong enough word here. She despises it. She has told me that the unreasonable (and he is completely irrational) boss she works for is “killing” her. Her health has deteriorated in the last few years. If you see a picture of her 5 years ago and today, you see the strain has left a very deep impression on someone who was full of life and energy.

So, with that image in my mind, I asked myself today–do passion and dreams really matter?

And, as I reflected, the answer remains a resounding “YES!”

Life can be kind, but it can also be a very tough taskmaster. I know there are plenty of people who look back on their lives and wonder where it all went. All of the hope and vitality that existed at one point sometimes give way to loss, hopelessness and even despair.

There are reasons and situations in life that can certainly test anyone’s fortitude and resilience: illness, death, divorce, loss of work, money issues, etc.

As most of us grow older, we understand that life will be kind to us, but sometimes, it will serve to teach us lessons. We can’t have the good without the bad. It simply would not be life.

However, there are things that each of us can do to not become brittle when we have been humbled or hurt. There are steps we can take to not allow the flames of our passion and dreams extinguish themselves. If we allow that to happen, there is certainly only darkness. Think about it. If we let everything we ever believed it, wanted, needed and desired for ourselves simply fade away, can there be light in that hallow space?

So, how can you keep the embers of your life’s passion and dreams alive?

It’s not easy. I’m not here to tell you it’s easy, but it can be done.

The most important thing, and probably the hardest idea to grasp, is that you have a choice. You can choose how you perceive your situation. You can choose to let it consume you, or you can choose to tell yourself (and believe) that you have had enough and the helplessness and darkness end now.
Once you have decided and internalized that you are looking to live YOUR life, you have to work to get out of the hole. It won’t be easy, but you can do it. It happens in a series of little steps. You don’t need to make enormous progress to be moving forward–even a single step in the right direction is forward movement.

If you don’t have any idea how to do it yourself, maybe those early steps consist of talking to your spouse or partner, your adult child, your friends and family, and if there is no help there, reach out further. Don’t allow yourself to believe there is no one who can help you–there is. Find a therapist. Find a spiritual advisor. Find a like-minded tribe, even if for starters it’s on the Internet. Start to surround yourself with people who are positive and whom you trust and respect. Start to fill your circle, even slowly, with doers.

Begin to build a support network around you of people who are your champions and who want to help you get back to where you need to be. The fact is that to be able to get out of a hole, you need someone to throw you a line. You need someone to help you pull.

As you take each small step, don’t forget that you are moving.

Then, when you have a little more strength, create a plan that goes to the core of what you care and want from your life. What are your values, interests (passion) and dreams? Sure, it may be too late for some things, but in this world, there is always something that will drive and make you happy if you could accomplish it. It doesn’t have to be a long and drawn out plan on paper. No. It can be two or three bullet points on the back of a paper napkin about what you want to accomplish.

When, you’ve done that, work toward it. Every single day, make it a point to do one thing that helps push you toward your goals. Keep talking to the people whom you have chosen to support you in your efforts. Remember, there are over 7.1 billion people in the world–someone cares. And, when you find that one person to support you, you will then find another. You are not alone.

Once you make that life-changing decision to move forward and change your circumstances, don’t give up. Whatever setbacks and however slow the progress, don’t quit.

In time, if you stay the course, you will find that things are changing. You just need to give life, and yourself, the sufficient time to start opening up to and shining the light again.

Author of, “The Rise and Fail of Charities In the 21st Century: How The Nonprofit World Is Changing And What You Can Do To Be Ready.” Get your copy here.

© 2015 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.