How to move forward when a dream ends — dare

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Are you willing to make the leap to a brighter future?

I am writing a series of blog posts that describe what to do when a dream ends. It can be challenging to move forward. I am walking through a personal example to share the approach I used when one of my life dreams died.

More specifically the dream of a lifelong marriage ended when your mother and I divorced several years ago.

I have already described the first two steps — learn and ponder. This week’s post describes the next step which is to determine your desired destination.

In other words, what are you going to do with your life?

It is important that you figure this part out prior to filling in the details.

But, before we go any further…

Many people have no real dreams at all. I know because I was one of them. I did not envision a fantastic future.

No — I was conservative in just about every way.

Don’t make the same mistake. I dare you to dream of a fantastic future. It is the better way to envision your life.

After the divorce, I could have remained conservative, but boldness seemed like a better approach. The reality was that I was given a gift, a second chance at life. I did not want to squander it. Rather I decided to embrace it.

I recommend you do the same when determining your desired destination.

Now let’s get into it.

There are many ways to figure out this part. Here is the one I used.

Your future may include vacations by the sea.
Your future may include vacations by the sea.
Who knows — your future may include awesome vacations by the sea.

When thinking about my desired destination I was reminded that several authors recommend that you start with the end in mind.

The most well-known example comes from Stephen Covey’s book the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Book. Covey’s classic is full of wisdom. I am glad his book was required reading in your high school.

You may recall the following quote which describes what he means to begin with the end in mind.

Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen. One of the best ways to incorporate Habit 2 into your life is to develop a Personal Mission Statement.

Stephen Covey

Covey’s quote was helpful. The project I was working on was my life dreams.

The reality is that we all arrive at the same end in life. We pass away. Where we go next is up for debate, but I am not going to get into that now.

Rather, the thought I had was to consider what I wanted to do before my life ends in this world. A few authors I have read recommend that you write out your eulogy as the best way to start with the end in mind.

Describe what you want your family and friends to say at your funeral. I was not in a good place mentally or emotionally at this time so I decided that writing my own eulogy was more than I could handle.

Instead, I thought about what I want my tombstone to say.

Below is what I drew. Yes — it is PowerPoint. You both already know that I possess no artistic talent.

Drawing my own tombstone helped shape my life dreams.
Drawing my own tombstone helped shape my life dreams.
Designing my tombstone helped shape my life dreams.

The main challenge when designing your tombstone is that you do not get to use a lot of words. Therefore, each one matters. Here is a brief explanation.

  • 1968–2068 — yes, I want to live 100 years
  • Reborn Ranger — reflects both my faith and military experience
  • Faithful Father — my most important role as a father to both of you
  • Man of God — my desire to live a life that reflects Jesus
  • ATW! RLTW! — two military mottos. All the Way! and Rangers Lead the Way!
  • John 10 — my favorite words of Jesus. He declares himself as the Good Shepherd
  • Joshua 1:9 — my favorite verse from the old testament
  • Symbols — the left reflects my faith, the right my military heritage

Drawing my tombstone forced me to think critically about what is important in life. I recommend you do the same.

Both of you are young and probably have no idea what you want to do when you grow up, especially when it comes to your vocation.

You will notice that I did not include anything work related in my design. I enjoy my job, but that is not what I want to be remembered for.

Oddly enough, neither did Thomas Jefferson. He actually designed his own tombstone. He chose not to include being President of the United States. Most of us would consider that crazy. He did not.

Writing the Declaration of Independence and creating the University of Virginia were more important achievements. I agree with him — they were.

Note that Jefferson does not mention being US President.
Note that Jefferson does not mention being US President.
Jefferson does not mention being US President.

Next came my dreams. The things that I hoped to achieve before leaving this world.

I envisioned a fantastic future. One that would be much better than my past. Not sure exactly why but I came up with ten of them.

More than that seemed too much. They are found below.

My list of top ten dreams - not in priority order.
My list of top ten dreams - not in priority order.
My list of top ten dreams — not in priority order.

First, it is worth noting that my goals are not listed in any particular order. They are not listed by priority, or chronologically. No compelling need to do.

Second, I am far from achieving most of them. They are lifelong goals.

Lastly, I will not go into great detail about all ten. Rather I will briefly explain half of them.

  • Teach Leadership — I am passionate about this topic and feel like I have content to contribute.
  • Generous Giver — Our veterans need help and I want to support them.
  • Global Traveler — I want to see the world, and will not wait until retirement to get started.
  • Fun Friend — not having many close friends was a big problem when I was married.
  • Loving Life Partner — doubt I will get married again, but cannot imagine life without love.

I recommend spending some time thinking about your life dreams. I know that both of you are busy…so busy.

But, it is a worthwhile investment of your time if for no other reason than it will help you make better decisions as you grow older.

Capture all this content somewhere so that you can reference it as you work out the details which I will do in the next several posts.

I am guessing that neither of you is inspired to do this work. I understand. It was difficult for me to find the time and energy to do this work, especially with everything else I had going on at the time.

As both of you know I listen to a lot of music. One of my favorite bands is Switchfoot. At times I feel like their songs are the soundtrack of my life.

They wrote a great song many years ago called Dare You to Move. It is about getting back up off the ground after life has knocked you down. It was the inspiration I needed to move forward. I Dare You to Move.

Leader and learner. Father of two young men. Novice blogger,, Founder of All The Way Leadership!

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