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  • Writer's pictureSam

Is That Dream Really Still Right for You?

Updated: Jan 15, 2023

How to Know When Quitting Is the Right Thing to Do

In the current age of personal development and self-care, I’m going to say something rather controversial:

Quitting on your dream is sometimes the most liberating you can do.

I speak with experience. I’ve quit on 2 big dreams of mine and letting both of them go has been some of the best decisions that I’ve ever made, and shall tell you why…

Dream №1 The first was my childhood dream; ever since I first watched the film, Free Willy, I desperately wanted to be a killer whale trainer.

I watched Free Willy on repeat. I had a folder full of killer whale and animal training information. When my mum took me to SeaWorld Orlando, I ran flat out to the killer whale stadium and stood in awe for hours; it felt like minutes. I even cried on the way home and for months afterward because I wanted to go back so much. It was all I wanted to do.

Fast forward a few years and it was still my dream, however, I was beginning to have doubts. After years of amateur study, I was starting to see through the glam of the captive orca industry. I had to accept that, in all honesty, this was about me wanting a killer whale best friend, just like in the Free Willy film, and the best way to achieve that was to lock the poor animal in a tank and give it no choice but to interact with me. This was a weighty truth that I could not bear, and I could no longer in good conscience pursue this knowing I was being completely selfish, it was over. 1st dream abandoned.

My big lesson from this one was: Be clear on WHY you want this dream. It’s completely ok to pursue your dream for entirely selfish reasons, you’re allowed to, and should, want things for yourself; but being clear on why you want to pursue that dream, and being happy with that reason, has massive implications for its success and how much happiness it’ll really bring you when you achieve it.

Dream №2 So, I no longer wanted to be a killer whale trainer, but I still loved ocean life. I pivoted my dream to become a marine biologist!

For the next few years, I got the qualifications I needed and attended university to study Zoology. I loved university, I was surrounded by like-minded people, interested in the same things that I was, I had so many people to talk to and share ideas with, I got to go out with my friends and attending class in the warm comfort of indoors was great!…

Now, If you’re wondering why I highlighted my uni experience with things like hanging out with friends, being surrounded by cool people, and having class INDOORS, well that’s because the reality of working in the field of zoology is that you are often literally working in fields! Fields in all kinds of terrible weather, away from society and civilization, at completely unholy hours of the day or night and certainly not being paid enough for the work you do. Zoology and conservation fieldwork is a job done for the love of it, and not long after I graduated I had to come to terms with the fact that the realities weren’t for me.


This time I really had to face up to quitting on this dream, there was no more pivoting to be done, it was finally really over, and I, at last, had to face actually giving up on this one. Mostly my fears of quitting came from facing the people who knew about my dream and telling them that I wasn’t doing it anymore, it made me feel like a failure! But I couldn’t pursue something that I no longer enjoyed, it just wasn’t in me. I sucked it up and quit…

And it was the BEST decision I ever made!

The lessons I learned about myself, from this final quitting of my dream is what I really want to talk about:

Sometimes the most courageous thing you can do is quit the dreams that are no longer serving you.

It’s a brave brave thing to quit a dream, you’re battling with feeling like a failure, a quitter, and worrying that everyone is going to look down on you for it. All of that pressure is often what keeps us pursuing a dream that we no longer really want to do anymore.

“Are you just quitting because it’s hard? Nothing worth having comes easy, you know?” and the lines between a tough challenge and genuine misery begin to blur.

So, how do you know when it’s time to quit or if something is just tough? Ask yourself this:

Is the PROCESS filling me with excitement? Am I happy while I’m in the process of achieving my dream? Or am I thinking: “but when I achieve XYZ I’ll be happy!”

When it comes to the things that truly bring you joy, even the journey is enjoyable. The hard parts are still tough, and you’ll need some time away from the dream sometimes, but the challenge in itself is fun and the thought that it’s that one step closer to your goal just makes it all so rewarding. When you’re really struggling with the process, and even the thought of your end goal isn’t making it feel worth it, that’s when you need to take a minute and think about whether chasing this dream is really right for you anymore.

The thing about dreams is that they can be right for you one day, and not the next. As you pursue dreams, you learn about yourself, and what you learn sometimes no longer matches up to what you thought you wanted, that’s called growth.

While pursuing my marine biology dream I learned a few things about myself that I didn’t realize:

  1. I prefer being indoors with regulated environmental conditions. I wouldn’t have learned this about myself had I not spent long hours outdoors in various conditions sometimes soaking wet and half freezing to death.

  2. I value having spontaneous outings with friends and my partner, something I also wouldn’t have found had I not been deprived of this doing fieldwork for my degree.

  3. My joy comes from many different things in my life, not just my passions, that means needing money to afford those things, something that conservation & zoology work doesn’t generally provide. If I were someone who got all my joy from my work then I might have been alright with the lack of decent money, but as it turns out I am not; this I definitely wouldn’t have found out without pursuing that dream.

Knowing those things about myself, I was able to craft a new dream, one that I’ve had for the past few years and is still bringing me loads of excitement and joy, building the business of me, writing books, working on coaching, writing blog posts. I LOVE this, and even though it isn’t my main source of income yet, I’m excited about the process to make it so.


At the end of the day, you can see a dream through to conclusion in many different ways; ideally, it’ll bring you all the joy that you ever hoped for, but often the conclusion is that the dream wasn’t right for you in the end. And that’s ok.

Sometimes you see a cool outfit in the store, but when you try it on it’s just not right for you, you wouldn’t have known without trying it on, and now you know that actually yellow isn’t your color, so you’ve gotten a valuable lesson. The lessons that you learn from chasing your dreams are invaluable and will put you on the right path to really finding the things that bring you joy.

So ask yourself about that dream you’re chasing. Is it still bringing you a lot of joy? Or is it time you took those life lessons and re-designed something new for yourself?

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