Do Any of Your Dreams Need Recycling?

Last week, I wrote a post over on my solo blog, Aliventures, and the title got a lot of my readers pretty worried. I called it “Why I’m Giving Up on My Dream” and I explained that for many years, I’d had the dream of finding an agent, landing a big publishing deal, and being able to make a living by writing novels all day.

It’s a pretty popular dream amongst writers, but over the last six months, it’s become more and more obvious that it’s not the right dream for me.

“Giving up” was a bit of a dramatic way to explain the shift in my thinking. In keeping with our April Spring Cleaning theme here on Constructively Productive, I think it’d be more accurate to say that I’ve recycled that dream.

Because, in order for a new dream to emerge, I had to let that old one go.

Plenty of bits of the old dream have remained – in a slightly different form. I still want to get my book into the hands of readers, but I’m happy if most of them are reading it as an ebook, not as a paperback. I still want to make money from writing novels, but I don’t want to only write novels – I’m too hooked on blogging for that. ;-)

There’s a lot of talk in the personal development world about “going after your dreams.” Now, I think it’s great to chase after what you really want in life … but it’s not so great to cling onto an outdated dream long after it’s stopped being useful to you.

Maybe you’ve had a cherished dream which, frankly, is starting to look less and less likely as the years go by. That might be because:

  • You’ve changed. Do you really want the same things that you had your heart set on five or ten years ago?
  • The world has changed. There are plenty of opportunities (particularly online) which didn’t exist at all a few years ago.
  • Your dream was never going to work. This is a really tough one to admit, but some dreams are so far from realistic that they’re just not worth chasing.

There’s nothing wrong in changing direction when something isn’t working for you any more. You don’t need to stay committed to the goals or dreams that you’ve had for years.

And by loosening your grip on your dreams, you make the space for something new: you can keep the essence of that dream (for me, the important parts were writing and getting paid!) and you can recycle it, turning it into something different but still recognisable.

Do you have any musty old dreams lurking in unswept corners? Is it time to root them out, shake off the dust, and see whether you’re ready to recycle them?

Image: From Flickr by

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4 Responses to “ Do Any of Your Dreams Need Recycling? ”

  1. Prime says:

    “Now, I think it’s great to chase after what you really want in life … but it’s not so great to cling onto an outdated dream long after it’s stopped being useful to you.” — Enough said. This is what I always advised to people, but it’s either they don’t get it or refused it. I’m a big fan of recycling dreams – I don’t believe in hanging onto something delusional.

    • Ali Luke says:

      It’s a tough one … on the one hand, I hate to say “that’s unrealistic” — because people can and do accomplish pretty unrealistic things! But I do think that it’s not doing anyone a service to suggest that every single dream is desirable and possible…

  2. ‘Recycling’ is a good way to sum up your situation. The dream stays intact, but your direction has moved in ways you would never have imagined. My whole life twists and turns so I feel like I’m a different person from even a month or two ago.

    Scott Young recently said something quite fitting, regarding the direction of his business ventures:
    “Not only did I not know whether I would succeed or my odds of success, but I wasn’t even aware of all the options that could result from my decision.”

    Scott ended up doing things that he’d not even considered at first. Since we all develop as we go along, maintaining a rigid path probably isn’t in our best interests.

    I hope you can recycle many of your dreams to fit the way you naturally change and learn. Enjoy the process. I look forward to hearing much more about your new/recycled publishing dream.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Thanks Martin — and I know the feeling with twists and turns. I really like that quote from Scott Young, it certainly echoes how things have been for me…!

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