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It’s OK To Pause Your Dreams (Six Reasons Why)


Are your dreams paused or on hold? I think 2020 has us all feeling that way.

Dream vacations were postponed, weddings rescheduled, seasons canceled, and work plans delayed as we threw on homeschooling caps. We’ve all felt the circumstantial dream pause as we try to slow this curve the heck down.

But there are many other reasons we pause dreams as well – self-doubt, lack of resources, too many other obligations, to name a few.

For me, it was when suffering came in like a wrecking ball.

On November 14th, I got engaged. We began to plan the wedding and I was looking forward to wedding dress shopping, studying for my GMAT in January, and celebrating as a newly engaged couple over Christmas.

But just three weeks later, I was T-boned by a Mack truck, suffered a serious head trauma and nearly lost my life.

Ashley Stevens of Mountains Unmoved watching Gator Bowl 2009 from hospital room with fiancé in corncob hat - 6 reasons why it's ok to pause your dreams blog Mountains Unmoved

My dreams, our dreams, were shred to pieces and paused indefinitely as I recovered.

I don’t know why your dreams are paused.

I don’t know what lies you’re telling yourself in the meantime – “I can never finish anything, I’m not (smart, skilled, good) enough, everyone is judging me it’s taking so long” – but I do know I heard every single one of them when life didn’t go according to plan.

Looking back eleven years later, married with three kids and the belated MBA degree hanging on the wall, here are six things I wish I would’ve heard instead when my dreams were on hold.


Life Will Go On Either Way

The world keeps on spinning regardless of where your dream is at. I promise, if people know you have a dream, they are noticing it’s paused FAR less than you do.

As I sat strapped to my hospital bed, it was hard not to seethe with envy when I watched friends and family proceed with life as I knew it. Eventually I recognized no one was judging how long my recovery took but me and celebrated each baby step towards getting my paused dreams back on track.

Dreams and goals are important, yes, but either way the sun going up each day is not contingent upon you finishing them. When we use this big-picture perspective and celebrate each baby step (take a class, network, read a book, etc.) the dream will be built, one brick at a time.

The Paused Dream Might Not Be The Right Dream

Only 6 Percent Of Us Achieve Our Childhood Dreams…how’s that for an upper? While there are many reasons for changed dreams, the thing is we re not fortune tellers. We weren’t as kids and we’re not now.

girl putting her crown - 6 reasons why it's ok to pause your dreams blog post by ashley stevens at mountains unmoved
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

When my daughters are frustrated, I tell them to walk away, take a deep breath, and give it 5 before we talk (they rarely do :/) and sometimes I need to remind myself to do the same. If a dream or goal is consuming you all day and keeping you up at night, walking away, doing something else, and coming back with a different perspective may do you good.

If after you think your original dream is still spot on, you’re one of the lucky few. But sometimes a pause is the best way to see a pivot is in order and your skills could be put to much better use elsewhere and there ain’t no shame in that

Achieving Dreams Is Not A Competition

I dreamed of writing a book five years ago and while I’ve done a lot I’m incredibly proud of along the way – including designing and printing this booklet! – my dream of publishing feels like it may last until I’m 80. As I watched my feed fill with what felt like everyone signing book deals, self-doubt started to seep in.

But then I reminded myself I’ve had three babies, moved twice, made a flipping website where I’m crafting my writing skills, and wrote and reworked a book proposal and decided to give myself grace.

Comparison is the thief of joy. Work with what’s at your feet which is very different from absolutely everyone else’s.

Priorities Shift And Dreams Can Too

You can’t do everything at once. You just can’t. I have a closet my husband calls my “pile of broken dreams” and, well let’s just say I keep it closed. I pride myself in being a git ‘er done kind of girl but right now, raising a 4, 7, and 9 year old? The guitar and sewing machine can’t be a priority and THAT IS OK.

If you’re in a similar spot, re-assess each year and, if the desire to learn is still there, ask yourself if you can carve away time to do so. And if the desire isn’t there? Give it away or sell it with no shame.

The Best Dreams Take Time

On the day we had scheduled to get married, I was crushed. I was in my fifth month of therapy living across the country from my fiancé. I felt I was ready to walk down the aisle right then and there and was kind of resentful everyone was telling me otherwise. Was I approved to drive yet? No. Did I still go to brain therapy four days a week? Yep. But gosh darn it I was ready!!

Ashley Stevens of Mountains Unmoved on wedding day December 12th

If we had rushed the wedding, though, we would’ve missed the beautiful day we celebrated on the one-year anniversary of the accident instead. We would’ve missed the beautiful programs we designed and fun bachelor and bachelorette parties we had.

If you’re feeling like your dream is taking waaaay too long to come to be, have hope. Taking more time to work towards it can only mean a better outcome.

You Are Not Alone

I’m the only one who…isn’t married yet, stays at home, hasn’t published a book, can’t keep the house clean, doesn’t have a good friend group, can’t afford to travel…have you ever thought this?

That is complete BS. Complete BS.

While my suffering was unique in that I was the only one in my circles recovering from a head trauma,

I was not the only one struggling to find my worth.
I was not the only one absolutely pissed my dreams – wedding, MBA, etc – were on hold with no idea when they would pan out.
I was not the only one feeling so utterly alone.

Whatever your paused dream is, however frustrated you are, however long it’s taking, or if you’ve discovered it’s not the right dream after all,

You are not a failure. You are not flaky. You are not inept.

You are not alone.

What dream are you trying to accomplish? I’d love to cheer you the heck on.