Today, I’d like to write you on a topic which is close to my heart, about an ability which is critical to achieve one’s dream, but that does not always receive the merit it deserves. This article is about persistence, which is a key quality to nurture once you’ve gotten started on your dream journey and the once so shiny and glimmering dream you had, that seemed just perfect, is started to get more nuanced with the touches of reality. Because upfront everything was just theoretical, but now things get more concrete, and we start to realize, and really feel it, that it acquires hard work and sacrifices, most probably both on personal and professional level.
To realize one’s dream is never easy, never something done in an instant. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a real dream to start with. A dream per see is something distant, something very different from what we have now; that we can make a clear picture of, but that we know it will take quite a lot of walking to get to.
The moment when things start to get tough, is were persistence comes in and has a crucial role to play. When you have to sit at home a Friday evening to study for an exam while all your friends are having a nice time in a restaurant, or spend a Sunday afternoon writing a report while your family is enjoying the sun in the park. Or you can’t offer you that vacation trip you really want because you have to save money to start your own company.
The persistence is what will make the difference between just having a dream and making the dream come true. And really, I believe that dropping out on your dream is not only missing an opportunity to learn, grow and get the live you want, but will actually make you take a step backwards, further from that dream life and more into the resilience, and victim position where you just feel helpless, without any real control over your life.
On a personal level, nothing is more frustrating for me than seeing my friends and family lacking in persistence and dropping out of their dream journeys. Because even if you realize along the road that the dream might not be exactly what you thought it would be upfront, if you don’t get to the end of the road you’ll never know what’s around the corner! Meaning that it’s only once you have realized your project, and actually live the new life, that you can really know what it’s like and learn and grow from it. Anything else is just theoretical mental juggling with a lot of ‘ifs’.
Looking back at my own professional journey I realize that many of my dreams throughout the years where based on the wrong decision criteria, because I didn’t have the self-knowledge that I have now. However, they were the BEST decisions I could make at the time, considering what I knew then. And if I wouldn’t have seen them through I wouldn’t have been able to learn what I’ve learnt and advance in life like I have. Certainly, my engineering studies were really hard and boring and I always had a doubt in my mind on whether it was really something for me. But really, what good would a couple years of engineering have done, if I didn’t get the final diploma? The diploma, the actual achievement of this dream was that allowed me to get, what I thought at that time, my dream job, as a Management Trainee, in a multinational company with lots of travel and learning opportunities and a nice career patch traced out. As it turned out, the career path, wasn’t really what I wanted, but then, this job was a great step forward. And I realize looking back that it is the achievements in my life (not the fluffy dreams I might have had but never followed through on) that made me who I am today and have permitted me to evolve. A bit like individual pieces in a large mosaic that little by little stated to give a fuller picture of who I am and what my purpose in life is.
Obviously, there are times that changing circumstances, major events in our lives that can make a dream completely obsolete. But mostly, from what I see in my coaching practices and also in my personal life, the lack of following through on a dream is in a large extent due to the lack of persistence. Finally, it’s all quite simple, we just have to roll up our sleeves and get going, one step at a time.