The Most Surprising Thing That Came From NOT Achieving My Dreams


by Emma, creator of Simple Slow & Lovely

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
― J.K. Rowling

Dreams and a vision for our future are wonderful things to have. They can inspire us, keep us motivated and help us to do scary things. But what happens when we don’t achieve our dreams? What happens when you wake up in the middle of your life and realize you haven’t done the things you thought or hoped you would?

If you had shown me a picture, 15 years ago, of what my life would look like today, you would have had to scrape me off the floor. There would have been disbelief and a whole lot of ugly crying. So I’m glad I didn’t get that memo. But I’m surprisingly okay with the picture of my life today. Actually, I’m not just okay, I’m happy.

Dreams vs. Real Life

Back in my twenties, in the thick of postgraduate studies in Psychology, my dream was to get my Ph.D. and be teaching Psychology in some world-renowned university far away from my own little country. I also dreamed of qualifying for the Boston marathon and completing an Ironman.

Fast forward a couple of years and I’d downgraded to a master’s degree, a half Ironman and was working a corporate job. And while those are still incredible achievements in most people’s eyes, I felt defeated and disillusioned. I had dreams and didn’t achieve them. In my eyes, all I could see was failure and mediocracy.

Thankfully, in my thirties, after discovering concepts like minimizing and slow, intentional living, I began to see what was really important. And I’ve discovered the most surprising thing. Most days I feel a deep, unshakeable joy – despite my failed dreams. In fact, this joy is present not just despite, but because of my failed dreams.

I am joyful because I know that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. But also because of six specific things I do to practice acceptance and to cultivate more joy everyday.

I am grateful

I try and practice gratitude daily. But there’s a trick. I try and keep it simple. It’s not always the stereotypical bedtime list, sometimes it’s a small thought in the middle of a full day. Practicing gratitude doesn’t have to be a full 20-minute routine. A grateful heart is sometimes just a feeling. It’s the feeling I get when I’m out cycling and see an eagle gliding across the paddocks, or the feeling when I hear my 5-year-old’s infectious giggles.

When we haven’t achieved our dreams it’s easy to fall into resentment….

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