Refusing the Dream

when you know what to do, but don't

At the start of a new Dream, or perhaps the beginning of a new phase of something already in progress, it's easy to get overwhelmed by all the things we could do... should do... want to do.

Some of these overwhelmed feelings can be easily fixed by a bit of attention. Questions of how to find the time, the money, or the space, for example, while challenging, can also be figured out when we put our amazing minds to the issue.

But what happens when the feelings of overwhelm are much more subtle, vague, and undefined?


're overwhelmed… but why?

The intangible quality of a really big Dream or a new calling can swamp us with all kinds of doubts and feelings that seem too overwhelming to push through. We might feel like our Dream will take too much out of us, that we have too little to give, that we're not qualified, we're not leaders.

The Dream that once seemed so exciting can start to feel like a burden.

We can fall into this thinking unconsciously, not even realizing that these subtle doubts and feelings of discomfort are causing us to procrastinate or set our Dream aside for now. Or so we think. At the edges of our consciousness, we tell ourselves that we don't have enough time, or clarity, or the right circumstances, but in reality we're simply avoiding solving those specific problems because of the non-specific feelings of doubt and discomfort.

how do you deal


When these feeling surface for some of us, our go-to coping mechanism is to start planning, outlining, and researching. We create detailed goals and timelines and structure about what we're going to do in the future. While we're in this planning phase, we feel good because something's getting done. But the planning goes on far too long, and the action never happens afterward. In the end, we only feel more overwhelmed because we've now seen the huge scope of the project and it's even more daunting than we first believed.

Others of us, when overwhelmed, simply shut down and avoid. A nasty cycle is created in which we're overwhelmed with all we have to do, so we avoid and shut down, and then we have even more to do, and less time to do it in!

This avoidance makes the avoiders feel guilty (if they recognize what they're doing), but the first response of planning rather than starting is almost more dangerous because it feels busy, it feels like progress. But it's not.

### Remember why you're overwhelmed

It's important to remember that the reason for our being overwhelmed is that this dream of ours is probably amazing. It's calling out the highest and best of us, calling on our gifts, asking us to push into new areas of risk. Feeling overwhelmed is a completely legitimate response.

So hopefully your dream is big enough to overwhelm you! It's going to cause you to work hard, to stretch yourself, to rely on God in new and scary ways, and to listen to the new directions in which He's calling you.

### So what will it take?

You have this seed of an idea, this gift or passion or ability, and you keep telling yourself that you'll get there. But it keeps getting shut down or shoved aside.

What will it take to get you to push into that overwhelmed feeling and make progress?

First, recognize the importance of the Dream, your original desire and passion for both the Dream itself and for the people it will serve and help. Remembering why you care so much and tapping into that why refuels your motivation. If there is a group of people you're wanting to serve, spend some time immersing yourself in the needs of that group, until you feel your motivation swelling enough to push you past the mental block of feeling overwhelmed.

Second, figure out exactly what's making you feel overwhelmed and causing you to refuse the Dream, and try to address it in the quickest, easiest way possible. For example, if you're feeling unqualified, rather than stalling out by telling yourself you need more education before you can even start, ask yourself what you can start right now and feel good about. Perhaps you'll get more qualified as you go!

You can also find a community that will keep you accountable. A friend, a life coach, a pastor, an online group like the community at Impactivity, or an in-person group you regularly meet with can listen to your intentions around your Dream, and then keep reminding you of it. But remember, no one will hold you accountable until you make it public!


's going to be uncomfortable

Remember, if this Dream is worth doing, it's going to be hard. Uncomfortable. Overwhelming at times. That's a good thing!

Figuring out the Dream is critical. Unshackling from the mental and spiritual issues that are blocking you from moving forward comes next.

Once your head and heart are ready, there are lots of steps you can take to start getting strategic. Check out the Design section of this site for some great resources!

your best next step

Dig Deeper

go more in-depth with this topic

Find out how to stop feeling overwhelmed and simplify your life to make room for your Dream.

See the Unshackle Workbook

Go Further

move forward on your adventure

Work through a step-by-step process to design a vision and system that maps out a plan and ends disorganization.

See the Design Workbook