What I Learned When My Dreams Didn't Pan Out

Sometime during my junior year of college I decided what I wanted my life to look like in the next 5-10 years. I had some pretty big dreams and decided to set some goals to pave my way to a successful life:

  • Land the dream job

  • Conquer the dream job

  • Learn Photography

  • Build a social media platform at a Blake MyCoskie (TOMS) level

  • Start a rad apparel and print line that had a positive impact on other people’s lives

  • Go on a missions trip

  • Get married

  • Have a kid (or two)

  • Buy a car that doesn't sound like a squeaky semi truck coming down the road

I just turned 29 last month. I made it to the dream job and I got engaged — I don't own an apparel line, my idea of photography is taking pictures of my dog on a phone, I’ve never been on a missions trip, I don't have a mini-me running around (unless you count Pete), and my car legitimately sounds like a squeaky semi truck.

To top it off, four months ago I felt bitter, helpless, stuck and I didn't know who I was anymore. I was still working at my dream job but I felt lost and my goals completely unattainable.

I felt hopeless.

Fortunately, something clicked and I realized unless I decided to do something about it, this was it. I wasn’t okay with that. So, I made a really tough decision and left the dream job.

Shortly after I left, I began to dream again. Dreaming transformed into hope, hope transformed into planning and somewhere along the way I gained a  better perspective for what I just went through.

Here's what I learned:

  1. Successful people aren't just the ones with the perfect plan or the one that seems to catch every big break.
  2. They're the ones that refuse to give up despite the countless times they have failed because they are resilient, disciplined and adaptive.
  3. Successful people understand that there is so much more to life than individual achievement.
  4. Most importantly, they understand that people matter — that it's not about the end game, it's about the way they live and treat those around them along the way.

My life does not look the way I thought it would at 29 — it's so much better. At some point in the last four months my understanding of success changed and my priorities shifted.

I will strive to be the type of wife, mother, friend, co-worker, employee that does the job well and lives in a way that makes everyone around me feel valued, loved and important.

If I achieve that daily — it will be my greatest success.

Ashleigh BradyComment