I’m all about chasing your dreams, no matter how crazy.
But sometimes, in the pursuit, we come across an obstacle that seems insurmountable. A limitation that holds us back. A roadblock we can’t seem to go over, under, around, or through.
For many of us, our gut reaction is to give up, settle for less, admit we’ve failed. That’s exactly what you shouldn’t do. But plowing over and over into the same brick wall isn’t productive either.
So What to Do Instead?
The solution I prefer is to take a step back, reevaluate the situation, and then adapt your dream.
Usually when we talk about adaptation, we’re the ones expected to change. New office configuration? Just moved to a foreign country? You’ll adapt.
But what I’m talking about here is a little different. Here we’re taking a dream and adapting it to a form that lets us bypass whatever obstacle we’re facing.
What I’m talking about might be best illustrated with an example.
A Case Study in Adaptation
I’ve had a fantasy about becoming a serious runner for years. I don’t know where it came from, but I’ve tried, on and off, to make it into reality, despite starting from a point where I couldn’t even run a full minute without gasping for air.
My first try ended when I could not shake a debilitating stitch that came up every time I tried to run. Then a health issue brought back my childhood. Every attempt to run since then has been thwarted by such bad asthma that even my inhaler, which I only have to use when running, doesn’t help.
I’m starting to feel like the universe does not want me to be a runner.
So, I sat down and considered a few questions. If I couldn’t run, what would be an acceptable substitute? What was it that drew me to running?
Here’s what I came up with:
- Being outside – I love being able to exercise outdoors.
- Moving forward – I like going somewhere while exercising, having a route to follow rather than staying in one place.
- Exercising alone or with others – I like being able to work out with a friend or by myself.
- Functioning on autopilot – I enjoy reveling in my surroundings when I’m out exercising: noticing the sun and shadow, feeling changing temperatures, seeing sky and earth, hearing whatever sounds are present. This feature of being somewhat on autopilot so I can give more attention to what’s around me is important.
- Participating in a culture – I feel like running has a culture to it, an identity you can claim when you tell people “I’m a runner.”
- Accessibility – I want a form of exercise I don’t need a ton of equipment or years of lessons to start doing.
Based on these criteria, I considered my options. What other forms of exercise would let me be outside and moving forward, with others or alone, at least somewhat on autopilot, while also being accessible and having their own culture?
The best option I came up with was cycling.
Is cycling 100% perfect? No. I wish it were more portable – it’s hard to cycle without a bike! But, as a form of transportation, it’s more practical than running. It also meets the rest of my criteria. And, perhaps most importantly, my body gets a physical workout before my lungs start to burn from the asthma. I’m pursuing it now, and so far, so good.
Substituting Adaptation for Defeat
Sometimes you’ll run across a dream you just can’t seem to make happen. It’s up to you to decide when you’ve tried hard enough and pursued long enough to warrant reevaluation. But don’t give up. Adapt.
Adapting doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You’re not throwing in the towel. Instead, you’re seeking the root of what you really want and seeing if you can translate those criteria into a different form. You’re adapting the dream to fit your situation. How resourceful of you!
When you’ve tried going for a particular dream in every way you can think of, if it isn’t working, sit down and ask yourself: What is it about this dream that appeals to me so much? Make a list. And then do some research. See if you can find a similar activity that lets you work around the roadblock.
Whatever you do, don’t just give up in defeat!
What’s Your Take?
What obstacles have you run into while pursuing dreams and goals? How did you deal with them?