Have you ever felt anxiety or panic while pursuing a dream? Have you ever woken in the middle of the night feeling like you’re falling behind, or not moving fast enough towards your goal? Have you ever wondered why when we are in the middle of pursuing what makes our hearts sing, we sometimes feel completely stressed out?

Passions, like any worthy pursuit, take hard work, discipline, and commitment. But where is it written that while chasing what thrills us above all else, we need to feel angst? How does that happen? Kind of a mindbender if you ask me.

Being the sort of person that likes to figure things out, I sat still, thought and then pondered some more. After sitting—and sitting—I had an idea. Could the source of any hurry-up-and-accomplish-our-dreams anxiety be unraveled by answering one simple question: Why are you pursuing this dream?

Before you answer, take a tick to really think about the drive behind your ambitions.

First, is there any part of you that’s trying to prove something to others? If the words, I’ll show them, they’ll see, they’ll be sorry once they see how accomplished I’ve become…cross your mind while pursuing your dream, than you may want to consider the true ambition behind your drive.

Is there a chance you’re striving for financial success? No? Then what’s the rush? Because if you’ve truly identified something you love and really enjoy doing it, then why are you in such a hurry to get where you’re going? I realize on the surface your urgency could feel like excitement and it may be, but then why has the thrill turned into anxiety?

Is there any part of your dream that’s a vehicle into the limelight or a path to get attention and recognition? Is there some reason you want acceptance and accolades from other people?

Are you using your dream to fill a void in your life? Or as a distraction to some issue that you’ve been avoiding? Maybe a life-changing event, aging, or an attempt to recreate a time that has passed?

Don’t spend time judging your answers, or yourself, since none of the above reasons are right or wrong. Just answer as honestly as possible, remembering that we’re sorting things out in order to discover less stress and more peace.

There’s nothing wrong with pursuing a dream that can lead to financial gain, notoriety, or that fills an open space in your life and heart. But the crux of the matter is balance; that space where the joy of what you love is equal to other factors that maybe driving you toward your passion. The issue—and anxiety—comes when you attempt to control the outcome on your terms and time table.

So if you are, in fact, doing what you love and find that your passion has lost it’s spark, before you decide to move on, figure out if you’ve inadvertently drifted out of balance. Has the drive behind your hard work, commitment, and determination shifted more towards exterior accolades or benefits? A path, in my experience, guaranteed to suck the joy out of dreams every time.

Remember, you are enough, you are doing enough and you’re exactly on time; and when anxiety surfaces while you’re pursuing your dreams, you know what to do. Keep focused, and remind yourself about “the why;” the real motivation behind your passion.

E.L. Chappel author of Spirit Dance/Storm Makers/Coming soon: The Surge

Anxiety is a gift, a warning signal, that tells us to stop and investigate the “whys.”

Dreams should be exciting, exhilarating, and challenging, not stressful.

aka The Glamorous Wife