Ok. You’re setting out on a new project—taking a step to achieve your dreams.

Let’s say it’s a novel. You begin outlining with high expectations. You create complex characters, a gripping plot with several outstanding twists, and a message that your heart resonates with.

Then you start writing, and heck, it ain’t goin’ well. All that brilliant inspiration you took from your outline suddenly vanishes when faced with the blank and absurdly white computer screen.

Or, shift the scenario. You start writing in high spirits, but partway through, it starts to drag. You let your friends read some chapters, hoping for some help, only to find out your writing isn’t all you thought it was cracked up to be.

Let’s try a third shift.

You’re writing along, and though it isn’t perfect, it’s coming, and you’re enjoying the process.

Suddenly your rent goes up and you have to work extra hours to stay on top of things. Not only that, your cousins are getting married (not to each other, thank God) and you barely have time to write.

(A fellow member at The Company wrote an article about keeping joy during the crazy of attending weddings.)

Long drives, long nights, high emotions. Novel goes on the backburner, you wonder if you even want to write it anymore.


All these are examples of “high expectations gone awful wrong” (“HEGAW”), or, less harshly, what happens when what we hoped for doesn’t turn out like we expected.

This is probably a universal feeling, and it definitely applies to forging our dreams. But what do we do when things go wrong? I mean, 20% of small businesses close within their first year, according to this article from NerdWallet. Is that the only option? Quitting?

Ok. I did a lot of hypothetical storytelling so far.

Let’s go with a real example, from my life, huge disappointment, hopefully you’ll get a laugh and a lesson (I sure did, but not the laugh part).

Two years into Grayling Baptist Homeschool Co-op. My brothers and I are tasked with teaching film class once again.

We decide to write our own script our own way, host real auditions with the kids, and film something set in the modern day.

This time, no measly half-formed plot and characters and flat sissy dialogue—no, we’re writing a script that even Lawrence Kasdan would be impressed with. We’d table a budget of $200—no more of this nonsense about using my old t-shirts—style, baby!

(To be honest, the budget was only theoretical, and only I wanted to front it: my brothers were more than a little hesitant.)

The script was going well—very well. My brothers and I laughed and nodded as we crafted funny and dramatic dialogue.

Then my mom had a meeting with the leaders of the co-op to figure out what classes there would be, etc.

When she returned, she sprung the news: the kids don’t have the attention span to endure a feature-length movie.


my best acting moment but one of the worst film experiences of all time

We can lead a couple small projects that children with fleeting concentration can flutter in-and-out of. Instead of a twenty-odd week commitment, the kids would have only one-to-three week commitments.

What? We had learned our lesson from last year, and now? No chance for improvement? No chance to finally make something great?

Oh, and on top of that, our class would only last a semester—ten weeks.

I won’t say I didn’t cry—seventeen-year-old man though I was. I couldn’t create an incredible work of art and humor—now I was going to be subjected to making petty projects to entertain a bunch of ten-year-olds!

I considered quitting. What’s the point of doing film class if we can’t make something we want?

But sometimes, it doesn’t go the way you want. Things come up. You work with people, and people are unpredictable. They might not share your vision.

So what do you do?

Three options I see:

  1. Quit
  2. Improvise/change plans
  3. Try it another way/another time

We’d explored all of these: Quit—not do film class at all, Improvise—do shorter projects that we might enjoy, Try another way—attempt to wrangle our youth group into filming the movie with us.

In the end, we improvised, and let me tell you—it was a ride! We had disasters—people not memorizing lines or quitting on shoot day—we had triumphs, and frankly, we had the most fun when we were filming nonsense or filming something with just our family.

All right. So let’s bring it all home folks.

You start a project. High expectations. Things don’t go as planned.

You can try any of the three options, and each can work in your situation. The main key is talking it out with people (and/or God) to see which is going to fit and you’ll be able to enjoy the most.

Have you started a project recently? Something in line with your dreams?

How’s it going? Are you suffering from a bad case of HEGAW? If so consider one of the three options: quit, improvise, or try another way.

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