Monday, 3 June 2013

What's holding you back from pursuing your dream?

Recently I was deserted by my hubby who'd gone to help our youngest son pack up and move out of his student digs. Finally after 4 years of hard work, as well as the obligatory student lifestyle, he has finished his Master's degree in Mathematics. Before you ask, he did not get it from me! Depending on his results, he has been offered a place at Liverpool university to do a PHD. We're so proud of him as you might well expect, but it's not just because he's persevered and finished his degree, but also because he had a dream and he did whatever it took to make that dream happen.

Let me explain. When he was in secondary or senior school he was placed in a Mathematics programme where for some obscure reason he could never achieve higher than a B grade in maths. This also meant that he wasn't taught Further Maths which would put him at a disadvantage if he wanted to do the A level. The night of his parent's evening when we were speaking to one of his teachers about his choice of subjects for A level, he was told he probably wouldn't get to study maths at university because of this. Undeterred my son worked his socks off and achieved the B in Maths at GCSE level required to do the A level and wholly of his own initiative approached the teacher who would be teaching him A level Maths and asked him for work to do over the school holidays to bring him up to speed with the other students in Further Maths. As you can see, he pulled it off and the rest, as they say, is history.

As is my wont, this got me thinking! Why is it so many of us never fully realise our dreams and aspirations?

Why is it that it's taken me until the later years of my life to start to pursue my dream of being a writer?

In my case one very obvious reason was lack of confidence in myself. As a child although I was quite bright I never came first,  although I was often in the top 3 or 4. But for some reason that I can't understand this left me feeling 'second best', that I could never be good enough to come first. I can only assume that this was also tied up in other things that were going on in my life at the time, but I'm not going to explore that here. Over the years things have happened that seemed to confirm this lack of belief in myself. For me, getting over this hurdle came with maturity. I've stopped being so hard on myself. I've realised that it really isn't winning the race that matters but the taking part in the first place. If you don't try something, yes you'll never fail, but you'll have no chance of winning either.

This leads me on to another reason, fear of failing. How often have you not done something in case it didn't work out? I know that I have and too many times to remember I'm ashamed to say. But another feature of growing older is that I now know that if something doesn't work out, it's really not the end of the world! It's by making mistakes that we learn and grow. If we always got things right first time we'd never develop and would be that rare if not extinct creature-a perfect human being.

Surrounding yourself with the wrong people. It's hard to be around someone who's always right and sometimes we surround ourselves with people that feed into our insecurities and aren't always as encouraging as they could be. An author friend of mine wrote that we should surround ourselves with people who make us feel good about ourselves. It's in such a supportive and nurturing atmosphere that we can dare to take any chances necessary in pursuit of our dreams and aspirations.

Being afraid of hard work. Achieving your dreams doesn't just happen. It can require an enormous amount of effort. I think that some people, myself included, give up too easily. even the most talented singers, actors or painters, to name but a few, have had to work hard to get where they are and continue to do so. Don't give up just because it gets tough. Remember the saying; 'if a things worth doing, it's worth doing well!' and that requires effort.

I know that life isn't always that simple. That things can and do happen that get in the way. Sometimes it's necessary to 'take time out' whether it's because of illness or bereavement or many other reasons. But as all the Paralympians who achieved medals at the Olympics last year have shown, there's always a way if you truly want something.

This is by no means a complete list of things that stop us achieving our goals. you can probably think of a lot more. But these are the ones that I'm working on overcoming and some days I'm more successful than others. One thing I've discovered is that when you're doing something you love and really want to do, even if it doesn't lead to anything; it sure is fun trying.

Here's a challenge! Try thinking of some of the things that are holding you back and see what you can do about even just one of them. You might surprise yourself- I did! © 2013

The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me." - Ayn Rand
News just in! My son achieved a First in his Master's degree. One very proud mum.

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