While I’ve never met someone who faces death and wishes they spent more time working, I have met many women who confess they feel like they have had to adjust their dreams later in life. I’ve heard repeatedly from stay-at-home-moms whose children are entering school or leaving for college that they regret their decision to put their dreams on hold while the raised young families.
Every time it breaks my heart to listen to women ponder the what ifs. And while it’s always important to remember that raising our children is one of the most important responsibilities we are given in life, it’s just as important to consider that as women we are able to pursue two things at the same time.
How to Avoid Your Biggest Regret
One of my passions in life is sharing life experiences so others can learn from mistakes rather than repeat them. Thankfully, I’ve spent my life surrounded by women who modeled different ways to pursue parenting, marriage and a personal life calling.
I’ve learned lessons from observation, mentoring, and personal trial and error. Pursuing your dreams is rarely easy when we position ourselves to obey God’s calling on our life we don’t always have the luxury of choosing the timeline.
Inquire and Obey
One thing we observe in Scripture about David is that when he was in sync with God he never took a step without pausing to inquire of the Lord regarding his next actions. Not only do we see that David asked God for direction, but we see that God consistently responded with clear direction for the next step.
Now let’s be clear here. God was not laying out a 10 point plan every time David inquired. He simply gave him the next steps. While there are several examples, let’s take a minute to review 2 Samuel 5:17-24.
- V. 19David asks if he should battle the Philistines. God says yes.
- V. 22 The Philistines return, so David again inquires and God provides a battle plan.
But here’s the most important thing to understand about David’s choice to inquire: Every time David asked the Lord for directions he obeyed. He made the decision before he inquired to obey and that is a beautiful example of surrender.
Accept You May Fail
No one is perfect yet many of us avoid pursuing a dream or calling out of fear of failure. Accept you may fail! Understand that you may experience several reroutings. You will let someone down. Your words will hurt someone at some point (likely unintentionally). You will have to apologize and you will have to back up and learn from a mistake.
But you know what? You will be better for every failure you experience. So accept that at some point you may fail and that you will be okay.
One of the most frustrating comments I hear when conflicts arise is “well, that’s just who they are, they aren’t going to change.” You see, it’s a choice not to change, and when we are unwilling to consider how our personalities are impacting our calling we fail everyone, especially ourselves.
We are each created with an individual personality, tendencies,
For me, it was the layering of tests such as DISC and StrengthsFinder and extensive study of the Enneagram that has allowed me to understand why my natural tendencies as well as how others view my responses.
The best part of this hard work to understand myself better is that the more I know about how God has wired me, the clearer my calling becomes.
Tell Someone About Your Dreams
I remember sitting with a coach’s wife who had a very specific passion area. She had decided that there was absolutely no way that she would fulfill her passion for living in the tiny town where we currently resided.
Once she finally expressed her frustration out loud it took less than a week to connect her with another woman in town doing exactly what she wanted to do. They now work together.
While it won’t always be that easy, there are other benefits to telling someone else what about your dreams.
- Outside perspectives can help shape and sharpen your vision
- You will create accountability
- You will open the door to future opportunities
- You may find a kindred spirit with whom to partner
Set a Goal
I’m a Powersheets fan, but they certainly aren’t necessary to set a SMART goal.
It doesn’t matter what the goal is, the point is that you are taking a step towards your dream. Your goal may be to read a book within your niche. Great! You are learning more about your dream. You may set a goal to connect with people within the industry you want to work. Awesome!
Each SMART goal you set is another step toward pursuing your dream and every step towards your dream is a step away from regret. One thing to remember about any goal is that you need to consider your season of life. Be realistic, it will set you up for success.
Setting a goal often requires you to say no to something. This is okay because as you prioritize pursuing your dreams you protect your calendar from busywork that will take time away from your dreams.
I’ve found that the best way for me to figure out what to say yes and no to requires me to evaluate each choice through my priority filter.
With this list, I can quickly determine whether I need to say no or consider saying yes. For example, our date night is Wednesday nights so if I’m asked to do something on a Wednesday that conflict with date night the answer is no.
Here’s the thing to know about prioritizing. Sometimes we end up saying yes to something that temporarily reorders our list. For example, when I head to a writing conference that is out of town it may seem like I’m choosing writing over other things, but the amount of time spent at the conference is minimal compared to the rest of the month.
Trust God’s Timing
When we are in the midst of a stressful season of life it’s hard to remember that we are exactly where God has us for an important reason. But when we begin each step of pursuing our dreams with first inquiring we can have faith that God is with us.
Life is always about balance and I’m the first to admit I rarely get this right, but what I know for sure is that we are created for a unique purpose. God has a plan for your life. So before you determine you need to wait to pursue your dreams pause and inquire. It may be that this is the year to take the next step!