What are you chasing after in life? Everyone’s got dreams, goals and targets they’re pursuing. Each person’s dream is personal and specific to them, be it a particular job, a promotion, academic grades…the list goes on. But what happens when, in the fight to make these dreams become a reality, something goes wrong? What do you do when life doesn’t go to plan? That’s exactly what happened to me.

I’m currently a student at Loughborough University and for the majority of the 20 years I’ve been alive, it was my dream to run in the Olympics. However, at the age of 15, a seemingly endless stream of injuries started happening that prevented me from competing for the best part of 5 years. This is quite an obstacle for someone who dreamt of competing at the highest level. The injuries became so numerous and frequent that recently, I had to make one of the toughest decisions of my life. I realised that with the intense level of training I’d need to do and the physical strain this would continue to place on my body, I could no longer pursue my Olympic dream. It was an incredibly tough decision. However, it was the right decision.

I’ve learned loads of lessons along the way. Here are 8 things which I thought I’d share with you:

1) The why is more important than the goal

Let me explain: my goal was the Olympics. However my why was that I really enjoy running and the buzz of a physical challenge. So when life got tough for me, it was the why that helped me keep everything in perspective. A healthy why helps protect us from making the goal a dangerous & unhealthy obsession. 

2) Never let the goal itself become bigger than your why

You see, becoming too fixated on your goal instead of your why is what causes people to blindly keep going after a goal when it’s actually doing far more harm than good. The fact is, circumstances change, and sometimes it’s wise to adjust the goal to suit your why amidst these ever changing circumstances.

3) Never place your identity in the dream that you’re chasing after

Not in the highs, not in the lows. This is a difficult one, trust me, I learned this one over and over during those 5 years. But it’s SO important. Choose to place your identity in something more permanent. For me, this is my adopted sonship by God the Father.

4) Stop focusing on what you can’t control

Instead, get stuck into what you CAN do. There are lots of things in life we can’t control. Focusing on these will leave us feeling helpless and fearful. But there’s a lot we can control, and focusing on this will leave you empowered and motivated. Being a part of The Junction Church in Loughborough continually inspires me to really get stuck into these things and do them with excellence (Colossians 3:23,24).

5) Learn from the situation

Is there anything that could have been done differently? It’s an investment in your future if you take the time to learn from it now.

6) Get the right people around you

We weren’t meant to do life alone (Genesis 2:18). Isolation will do no good for you when you’re facing a struggle. But neither will pity parties. It’s key that you get people who not only understand you and your heart, but will also encourage you and cheer you on too. A bit of pragmatism goes a long way here. I have been so blessed at university to find an abundance of these people at The Junction Church and the impact they’ve had on me has been simply incredible.

7) Remember, everyone’s got their own battle they’re fighting

When you’re struggling, it’s important to lean into God and have people around you to help build you up. However, we must also remember that everyone is fighting a battle of their own. We need to strike a healthy balance here between the two. Hey, don’t over think it. Just remember, it’s not all about you – well, not all of the time!

8) Pray

The Bible tells us we should pray in all circumstances (Philippians 4:6), so let’s commit to that! But let’s get real in these prayers. God knows your heart, so don’t dither about: tell him how you’re feeling. If you need help, ask him for help. If you need something, ask him! Trust that God HAS a plan for you, and God IS bigger than any obstacles that you face in working to fulfil that plan, so let’s step into these prayers with faith.

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