How to move forward when a dream ends — decide

Doug Keating
8 min readJun 10, 2018


This multi-part series discusses what to do when a dream ends. Finding the best path forward can be daunting.

I am sharing a personal example to illustrate the approach I used when one of my life dreams died. I have already described the first four steps — learn, ponder, dare, and describe.

This article is about the next step which is to decide on your direction. In other words, how are you going to get there?

If you know where you are (Point A) and where you want to end (Point B), then what path will you follow to get from A to B.

It is important that you pick the right path. Otherwise, any path may do.

That is how many of us live our lives. Even worse some of us follow others down the wrong path and we don’t even know why.

Find your own way — don’t follow others foolishly

Deciding on your future direction can be a challenge. But, it is vital that you find your own way forward.

No one can live your life for you. You have to do it yourself.

Don’t solely rely on others to show you the way. Don’t follow others foolishly.

After all, there are so many choices and too many voices.

Think about it. It is easy to get “expert” advice these days. There is no shortage of books, videos, podcasts, tv shows and other resources created by highly successful people who claim to know the way.

I have looked into a lot of them. Many experts are helpful with tips and trips for how to live a better life. But, none of them has it all figured out.

I am convinced no one really does.

Therefore, I recommend getting expert advice, but make it your own as you find your way. Below is the strategy I created for finding my own way.

I liked the idea of upgrading my life - better than before.
I liked the idea of upgrading my life — make it better than before.

Take advice from those who love you the most

When finding your way start by getting perspectives from your family and friends. They can be a great source of wisdom and guidance. My family and friends were quite helpful as I sorted through which direction to take next.

You can ask them what they would do if they were in the same situation. You can bounce ideas off of them to get feedback. Ask them to share their wisdom, knowledge, and experience with you as you find your way forward.

The ones who love you the most will give you the best advice because they want the best for you. Never forget that, especially when you need tough love to deal with life’s most difficult challenges.

Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Proverbs 23:22

Life is multi-dimensional — forge your own framework

Life is complicated. It truly is. We do not simply move from Point A to Point B in a straight line.

If life were that easy we would all be hugely successful with minimal effort.

But that is not the case. It takes a lot of effort to achieve success. Many never do.

Life is also multi-dimensional, full of many facets. My experience is that it is difficult to achieve success across all the facets of your life at the same time.

With that thought in mind, I decided to forge a framework that described the future facets of life that I hoped to achieve. It is found below.

The framework I forged for picking my path forward.
The framework I forged for picking my path forward.

It only needs to make sense to you

I dissected the future direction of my life into six facets — faith, family, friends, fitness, fun, and finances.

On the left was my current state (Point A). I described my current challenges in three words. On the right is my desired destination (Point B).

Once again I limited myself to a three-word description. As I have already said — I did not expect to achieve success across all six facets at the same time.

Progress would vary.

This framework probably does not make sense to you. That is fine.

It makes sense to me. That is my point.

Come up with whatever solution works for you. I completed all this work several years ago.

As I look at it now I recognize that it is somewhat all over the place.

Not a big deal. Life is messy.

What do you see - men or pillars?
What do you see — men or pillars? Your answer is the correct one.

Decide on the direction you will take for each facet

Next, I went into more detail about each facet. Don’t worry I am not going to share the details for all six. Instead, an exemplar is found below.

This one is for the fun facet. As you can see I want to have a lot more fun than before. I have shared in previous blog posts that I was a pretty miserable person to be around the last few years of my marriage.

The problem was that I was too serious. I came up with several solutions for how to have more fun. These solutions are not listed in priority order even though they are numbered.

This slide describes in detail solutions for having more fun.
This slide describes in detail solutions for having more fun.

Pick the path you will follow — fill in the details

Finally, I included my passions as a reminder to myself of what I like to do when not working.

Both of you know that I enjoy sports, listening to music, drinking beer, and traveling a lot. Leadership is a professional passion of mine, and I drink coffee every single day. Love it.

Although it seems silly to write out your passions I think it is helpful to figure out what you really like to do. Notice that watching television and surfing the internet did not make the list.

I do both of those activities, probably more than I should. But, they are time fillers, not passions.

A detailed list of my many passions - the things I enjoy doing.
A detailed list of my many passions — the things I enjoy doing.

You do not need to know every step of the journey

I went into detail for each facet which was a lot of work. The investment was well worth it. When done, I felt like the future direction of my life was decided and well defined.

You will note that the details do not describe every step of the journey. That kind of analysis would be exhausting and futile.

Life is way too unpredictable to try and figure out everything before you get moving again. Clarity comes later as you move down your chosen path.

I know all of this sounds like a lot of work. It is. But it is worth it.

I will finish with where I found the inspiration for this part. It came as a surprise during a church service.

You do not need to know every twist and turn in your journey beforehand.
You do not need to know every twist and turn in your journey.

What to do when darkness comes

Divorcing your mother was the most difficult phase of my life. I did not know what to do next. I was ill prepared for starting my life over.

It was a dark time for me. Negative thoughts flooded my brain on a regular basis.

It was January, the month when many of us think about new years resolutions and changes we want to make over the next year.

I remember sitting in church listening to Pastor Scott preach a sermon about asking God to help with one big thing for the new year.

I knew my one big thing — to start living again.

It is easy to feel all alone when darkness comes.
It is easy to feel all alone when darkness comes.

Sometimes your heavenly father gives tough love

After the sermon, I sat in church alone praying about my life.

Then the darkness came. I was lost, alone, hopeless and defeated.

I felt dead. What had become of my life?

It was a train wreck of epic proportions without any indication that things would get better. I was feeling sorry for myself, pleading with God for help.

I am not going to say that the clouds parted, or that I heard an audible voice. Rather I experienced a holy moment when God clearly communicated to me what I should do.

Three words — rise, rally, and run.

In other words — get up, get yourself together, and get moving.

I know it sounds crazy, but it really seemed like God was putting a boot in my rear end like a drill sergeant would a new recruit.

It was the motivation that I needed. No more feeling sorry for myself.

No more whining about my life. Rise, rally, and run became my mantra for moving forward. Next week’s post will describe what that looks like.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

What about you?

Are you moving forward with your life, or are you stuck in neutral like I was?

If you are stuck, let me know and we can work together on your future dreams.

Lastly, we lost a few more celebrities to suicide this week. It goes without saying that every life lost to suicide is tragic. I want to make sure that both of you know that I am here for you if darkness comes that you cannot handle.

Call me, text me, reach out to me for help. Suicide is not the best option.

It is a permanent solution to temporary problems.

The world would be a lesser place without you in it.

I love you.


I write a blog for my sons called Doug Keating Letter to Sons. I am sharing content from my blog here. I hope you enjoyed it. All feedback is welcome. Thanks for reading it.



Doug Keating

Leader and learner. husband and father. Novice blogger,, Founder of All The Way Leadership!