A few weeks ago one of my readers sent me an email asking for input.
He writes poems, short stories and novels but has struggled with getting his work published. Instead he’s received a string of rejections which have left him deflated and wondering whether it’s worth continuing.
(as an aside, he sent me one of his poems in response to my Three Inspirational Poems post and I thought he definitely had some talent)
I think what my reader is going through is quite common. We start off on a certain path, get rejected repeatedly, and decide it’s not worth continuing down that path anymore.
Of course some people might say that if you’re passionate about something you should never give up.
That you should keep trying and trying and trying. But banging your head against the wall repeatedly is never fun and rarely productive.
So what should you do when you’re feeling discouraged about your dreams and wondering if the world will ever support your dreams?
1. Accept That The World May Never Support Your Dreams
Look, the world doesn’t owe us anything.
As much as we may like things to be differently, as much as we want the world to bend to our wishes and demands, it’s never going to happen.
There are so many factors that determine whether or not we’re successful and very few are actually within our control.
And that’s particularly true when it come to trying to make money while following our dreams.
As Greg Faxon discusses in this excellent post, the idea of “do what you love, the money will follow” is complete BS.
Sure someone could point out that lots of famous writers had their works repeatedly rejected before they made their first sale.
But here’s the question: How many equally talented writers NEVER made a single dime from their writings?
My guess is that for every JK Rowling, there are at least 100 or 1,000 or maybe even 10,000 equally talented writers wondering when their turn will come. And in fact it will never come for many of them.
Of course, the same is true in just about any other field as well.
Art and music obviously come to mind but there are other examples as well.
For example, in my field of life coaching – Tim Brownson – has mentioned that he knows a life coach who charges 25K to work with clients even though she’s awful. Meanwhile, talented coaches are throwing in the towel and giving up.
So here’s the thing. No matter what passion or dream you choose to follow in life, you have to accept that it may not work out the way that you want it to.
You may never make money from it or you may not make enough to sustain yourself financially.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to give up your dreams.
2. Follow Your Dreams Anyway
If you truly care about something, if you’re truly passionate about it, then you do it no matter what.
Yes, it would be nice to make money from your passion. But money should NEVER be the primary reason why you do something.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking. I need money to eat, to pay rent, to survive.
Of course you do. We all do.
But it may simply be the case that you need to make money some other way while pursuing your dream on the side.
There are plenty of examples of people who have done just that.
I’ll give you one of them. His name is Christopher Langan and he supposedly has the highest IQ of anyone in the United States.
Despite his high IQ, Langan never completed college due to financial and transportation problems.
And because of his lack of a college education, many opportunities were closed to him and he has spent most of his adult life working in blue-collar positions.
But that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his passion: physics. He’s even produced his own Theory of Everything that has gained some praise from the scientific community.
I don’t know Christopher Langan and perhaps he would have preferred to be a professor of physics at a major university. But that wasn’t possible due to his lack of college education.
Yet, he still found a way to pursue his passion. It’s just not how he made money.
And if the world doesn’t support your dreams, you can absolutely do the same. If you’re committed to pursuing your dreams and willing to find an alternative way to make money.
3. Set Your Own Rules For Success
You may never be externally successful in pursuing your dreams. You may not make money, you many not receive recognition, you may not receive the approval of others.
In fact, wanting or expecting any sort of external success is a near guarantee of failure.
After all, even if you make money from pursuing your dream, someone else will make more money doing the same thing. Which could lead to jealousy.
Or some people may recognize your talent, but others will criticize you. Which could lead to anger.
More importantly, you give up your power when you put your success in other people’s hands.
Instead set your own rules for success, rules that are 100% under your own control.
Then you don’t have to worry how others respond to what you produce.
For example, you could commit to writing 5 books during your life and not worrying how others respond to what you write.
That’s something that’s completely within your control.
You can set up whatever rules for success that you want, just make sure that they’re under your control and not someone else’s.
In the end, the world may or may not support your dreams. But regardless of what the rest of the world does, you still have the option to pursue your dreams however you’d like and to set your own rules for success.
As always, thoughts and comments on this post are welcome.