Every day I saw him he did something to annoy me.
It seemed like that was his mission in life. He’d point to something in me he thought was a flaw and ridicule it. He’d ask me questions I could never answer without looking stupid. And all the while that evil smirk would stretch across his clownish face.
I’ll call him Jeremy to protect his identity.
More like Jeremy the Jerk.
I let Jeremy torment me all through high school. He kept me away whenever there was a party with friends from school. He led me to opt for TV at home over football games at school on Friday nights every Fall. Every summer I dreamed of a peaceful life without him the next year.
But it never was to be.
Then I graduated, and something miraculous happened.
I forgot all about Jeremy.
Three Things You Should Let Go of Right Now
There are three things in our lives that can spread poison so lethal we die before we’re buried.
Here they are:
- Broken Dreams
Jeremy was a grudge I held for all four years of high school. There were others like him, too, but I particularly despised him because it seemed that he never honestly cared about my welfare at all. Even the most innocent encounters had the ulterior motive of making me miserable.
But what happened when he wasn’t around?
I forgot about him.
It was only the impending event of a day at school that turned on the heat.
So maybe I learned the valuable of lesson of letting go on a part-time basis.
Don’t hold a grudge. Don’t be resentful. This quote sums it up well:
“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
Don’t kill yourself with resentment. Let it go.
The Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Green Day coined the song title that makes my next point.
Years ago, I thought I wanted to be a novelist. I had three things in my favor. I love to read. I have a vivid imagination. And I’m a decent writer.
But stories need structure. I really had no idea what that structure was. As I learned more and more about it, I came to realize I probably woudn’t set the world on fire with my stories.
So for a while I just resigned myself to just trying to make it through every new day without wanting to die.
But as time went by, I began to devote myself to other pursuits. As I did, the pain of my broken dream began to fade.
And later, I found success writing nonfiction like the article you’re reading right now.
Maybe you’ve had a dream that burned with a fiery passion inside you. But the more you pursued it, the more elusive it seemed. You might have felt like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life. He wanted to travel the world, but life offered roadblock after roadblock. Years went by. Opportunities faded away into oblivion. He came to feel as though his presence in the world made absolutely no difference at all.
And as the story unfolds, he gets a chance to see the world as it would be without him. Family members were bitter. The family business was swallowed up by the predatory businessman who wanted to control the whole town. His children didn’t exist because he didn’t exist.
When the dream ended, he was one grateful man.
How about you? What difference are you making in the world? What difference can you make with the talents you have right now? It’s not wrong to dream. But maybe your dream just needs a new focus.
Your presence in the world matters. You are here for a purpose. So if your dream has fallen flat, dream another one.
Don’t let a broken dream define you. You can decide just how long you’ll go down that boulevard. Let it go.
I had a business I was really proud of.
The store had been in the community for 15 years. It had a regular customer base. Some of them who wore our clothes when they were kids were now clothing their own kids with our outfits. And even with 7 other stores in that shopping center selling similar items, we managed to thrive.
But things began to change.
The shopping center started losing its anchor stores.
The grounds weren’t being kept up and became less attractive.
Vacant space remained vacant.
Eventually, as business moved to the nicer neighborhood a few miles down the road, we had to make a painful decision.
We had to sell out before the local econony forced us to.
When the hammer finally came down, my wife and I worried about it for months afterward. The sting of failure taunted me every morning as I left for work. I felt the grip of fear close in on me and scare me out of taking any new risks.
If you’ve ever failed at something big, how did you feel?
It’s absolutely normal to feel bad about it.
Here’s a secret that will help you the next time failure stands outside your door threatening to break it down. If your failure is fresh, step back for a minute and pretend you’re someone else. If it’s been a while since it happened, take a moment alone and think this through.
It all boils down to your answers to three critical questions:
- How much does this thing really matter to me?
- At what point can I say, “Enough is enough”?
- How much should I pay in pain, sorrow, and worry for this situation to be satisfied?
Dale Carnegie said it well: Decide just how much worry a problem is worth and refuse to give it more.
Just like a broken dream doesn’t have to define you, neither does a failure. Take to heart what Zig Ziglar said:
“Failure is an event, not a person. Yesterday ended last night.”
Let it Go
Life will be full of disappointments.
Some people you meet and even sit beside every day will annoy the life out of you.
No matter how hard you try to succeed, you will fail sometimes.
Don’t let any of that define you. Grieve for a while if you must. Then, let it go.
Then you’ll be free to be the best you can possibly be.