Last month my husband and I got to spend a special couple of days with our young grandsons. We played the game, What do you want to know? which led to the question, “What do you dream of doing when you grow up?” As sports lovers, they both said they dream of being professional athletes. My husband joined in with this theme – he wanted to be a professional soccer player. My childhood dream (among many) was to be a zoologist.

We are told growing up to “dream big,” “go after your dreams,” to “never give up.” Sometimes you grow up and pursue a childhood dream, and sometimes other passions are stirred, and new dreams ignited.

But what happens when your hopes and dreams are suddenly halted? In a recent blog I talked about ‘shut doors’ and how difficult it can be when you have a door shut on your dream. If this happens you can feel stuck, disappointed, even hopeless. What should you do? How do you respond?

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself when you think your dream is over:

  1. What is the dream? Take time to name the dream you think is lost. Identify the dream and when it first came to you. Write down how it came about and be specific as possible.
  2. Why is the dream important? Name the why’s of your dream, and its importance to you. Ask yourself what the purpose of this dream is for you, your company, your family, or the world.
  3. Is it the right dream? This can be a hard question to answer, but it is a critical one. Sometimes you are heading full steam ahead down a path that is not fulfilling. Or worse, not aligned with your values. Remember a closed door can happen for a good reason.
  4. Is it your dream? Sometimes you choose a dream because of the expectations of others. This is not always a bad thing, but the dream must be yours not someone else’s.
  5. Does it match your heart’s desire today? Perhaps the dream was something you were excited about in the beginning, but you no longer have the same passion for it.

As you contemplate these questions allow yourself the time and space to explore your deepest thoughts. Be curious about them. Sit quiet and give yourself time to listen.

It can also be helpful to seek advice of those you trust. A friend, colleague, or counselor can provide a fresh perspective.

Spend time really getting to know yourself. What is true success for you? What do you really want in your life? What are the things that get you excited today, that light you up, that fuel a fire? When you get really clear on what is most important to you, it will help you determine whether it is time to persevere on an existing dream or chart a new path.

As C.S. Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” Whatever you do, keep on dreaming.


  • Janelle Bruland

    Entrepreneur, Leadership Coach, Author, Speaker, Podcast Host, & Co-Founder of Legacy Leader

    Janelle Bruland is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and high-performance coach who inspires others to live impactful and successful lives. She is Founder and CEO of Management Services Northwest, a company she started in her living room in 1995 and has grown into an industry leading company, named one of the Fastest Growing Private Companies by Inc. magazine. The CPO of Microsoft, Mike Simms, describes her as a true pioneer in her field. Janelle is also the Co-Founder of Legacy Leader, a leadership development company that teaches business professionals how to build a legacy, transform their leadership, and love their life. She is the author of The Success Lie: 5 Simple Truths to Overcome Overwhelm and Achieve Peace of Mind.
    Janelle is a lifelong resident of Whatcom County, Washington and is married with five children. In her leisure time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, golf, as well as keeping fit through various sports and activities.