What to Do if Your Dreams Feel Unachievable

Jena Nardella

I have never written a book before, but I have always wanted to. I started journaling at the age of 12 and found delight in the power of words. I began reading with fervor, holding books with reverence for their ability to paint images and emotions on a page. I dreamt of being able to inspire readers the way other writers have inspired me.

Recently, my dream became a reality. I have been commissioned to write a book and to live out this life-long dream of mine. I was so excited with the task at hand. I jumped in with high expectations and the elated satisfaction of becoming a true writer. And in the strangest of ironies, I have spent most of my writing days staring at a blank screen, feeling as though I have nothing to say. Nada. Nothing. It has been disorienting, and it has been discouraging. I have found myself second-guessing my own dream, telling myself I was foolish to think I could achieve such a thing.

Have you ever found yourself finally living out your dream, only to realize that it wasn’t playing out as you expected?

I thought writing a book would be easy. Perhaps I thought it would come naturally for me because I am a chronic journaler and I come from a family of writers. But I was wrong. I was swept up in the idea of the dream, forgetting that the most satisfying goals in life are the ones for which you work the hardest – not the ones that come the easiest.

• • •

When I was 14, I dreamt of climbing Longs Peak, the highest mountain in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Yet I knew that it would require training. I had to begin by climbing smaller mountains to acclimate to the altitude, to practice moving across boulder fields, to build the endurance required to make the 15-mile roundtrip journey in a day. After a summer of training, my friends and I hit the trail at 3am and pushed ourselves harder than we ever had before. My lungs and my legs ached from the demand of the climb, and I worried that we wouldn’t make it. It seemed as though the peak was getting further, not closer as we continued to hike. But I had prepared for it, and I pushed through the hours of pain and the voices of doubt. Hours and miles and sweat and tears later, we were greeted with the majesty of the peak as we towered over the panorama of the Front Range.

Our dreams are mountains.


*Photo Credit: ledana9, Creative Commons

Our culture sells instant-gratification. But the real things in life require time, patience and resilience.

Our calling finds its way through the paths of practice and commitment in the midst of demanding trails or fruitless days. For some, it is about faithfully putting one foot in front of the other, even if you can’t see the peak from your vantage point. For me, today, it is about staring down that blank screen and filling it with words.

Which mountain are you trying to climb?

May you stay with it today and tomorrow and the next. Here’s to you, all you mountain climbers, all you dreamers on the run.

Jena Nardella

Jena Nardella