Understanding Dreams: Running Late

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14th October 2018 / 11 comments

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Welcome back to our ‘Understanding Dreams’ series, where we take a look at the most common subjects people dream about, and what they mean for us in our waking lives. This month, we are looking at dreams about running late. These dreams can often cause a lot of stress and anxiety, as nobody likes the feeling of being late for something important. They are also often a result of pre-existing stress; if you have a dream about being late, it is often a strong reflection of what is currently going on in your day-to-day life. Here’s what it means if you dream about being late.

Dreams in which you are late are often very frustrating because the reason you are late is not your fault. Usually, people dream that they are trying their hardest to reach their desired destination, but obstacles keep getting in their way. No matter how hard they try, they cannot get to where they want to go. These dreams cause a lot of stress and anxiety, and can lead to a poor night’s sleep, and leave us feeling even more tired and unrested in the morning. However, if you have this type of dream, you are often already feeling tense and anxious about something, even if you weren’t fully aware of these feelings; this dream is your subconscious sending you a message that you need to do something to tackle these emotions and the situations causing them.

Dreams about running late because you’re unprepared

Often, this dream symbolises that you are up against a tight deadline in your real life, and are worried that you may not make it. It’s very common for people with high-power and fast-paced jobs such as journalists to have this dream, as they are constantly working against the clock, and this stress carries over to their subconsciousness while they sleep. However, it’s also common for people who have recently taken on bigger responsibilities, such as an important work project, or a new role altogether, or even began studying again and suddenly have assignments to consider. This new part of your life may be making you feel anxious and overwhelmed, and like you’re going to fail.

In our waking lives, if we’re late and it’s our fault, it’s usually because we were unprepared. If you’re late for an important appointment, or for work or school, it could be because you failed to set your alarm clock, or you didn’t think about what you were going to wear beforehand, or you missed your bus or train because you weren’t paying enough attention to the time. If this is you, then having a dream in which you are running late is often a sign that you need to work on being better prepared for things in your real life. You may not feel like your lack of preparation is stressing you out (it may actually be because you’re so laid-back that you’re constantly late), but this dream is a clear sign that somewhere deep down, this is causing your subconscious to panic.

Dreams about running late because of external obstacles

If you are somebody who is usually well-prepared and on time in real life, and are still dreaming that you are late through unpreparedness, it could be a sign that you are dealing with a situation in your daily life that you are not sure if you can handle. You are probably feeling like you are not ready to take on such a big task, perhaps because you don’t have the knowledge, skills, or tools to complete it. You feel as though you are rushing towards a deadline that is impossible to meet, and there is nothing you can do. If this is you, it’s time to ask for help. Look for somebody who has the knowledge, or who can provide you with the correct tools you need to complete your task, and if possible, can help you complete it before the deadline looms.

If in the dream you are trying your hardest to reach your destination on time, but are being prevented from doing so because of external obstacles, this could be a sign that you are feeling like you are being held back by something or somebody in your waking life. You are ready and willing to do what you need to do and meet any deadlines you might have, but something else is getting in the way of your success. You most likely feel very frustrated at this situation and are unsure how you can get around these obstacles and reach your goal. If this is you, it’s time to take a step back and assess the situation, and figure out what it is that is standing in your way.

Feeling like you’re falling behind

In a deeper, less literal sense, this dream could suggest that you are feeling as though you are running out of time in your daily life. Perhaps you feel as though you’re not living up to the expectations of your younger self, or those around you, and aren’t where you thought you would be at this point in your life. You may be struggling to advance in your career, or are still unsure quite what it is you want to do. Or maybe you’re feeling like you’re falling behind in your personal life; we reach a certain age when we are surrounded by people getting married, buying houses, and starting families. If you’re not quite there yet, and you’re surrounded by people who seem to ‘have it together’, this dream may be your subconscious telling you that you feel as though you are falling behind and that you’re racing against the clock.

If this is the case, it’s important to remember that life is not a race. There is no set timeline for when you must do certain things. Some people have a clear idea of what they want to do in their careers from an early age, and quickly work their way up the ladder. Others find their passion later, and some never do, and simply work to earn money. Some people meet their soulmates in their teens, whereas others don’t meet until much later, and others are simply happily single. No matter where you are in your life, don’t compare yourself to others. You’re not falling behind, because it’s not a competition. The only person you should worry about is yourself. If you do want to change your life and make progress in certain areas, then take some time to reflect on where you’re at right now, and what you can change to move forward. Once you know what to do, go and do it, and allow yourself some time to achieve those goals without feeling pressure to meet a certain deadline.

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11 comments on "Understanding Dreams: Running Late"

  1. vidya4083 says:

    Great article!

  2. helen1884 says:

    An interesting article and makes you think! Thanks.

  3. rajasree2227 says:

    Definitely an interesting article. I never actually before thought of much of analysing or interpreting dreams but after reading this article I am thinking differently and would like to read more. Thank you.

  4. helen1884 says:

    An interesting article about dreams and worth thinking about how they might be affecting your everyday life. Thanks.

  5. sadiya5672 says:


  6. robert3830 says:

    How do you interpret this dream? I am sitting next to two women, one is critical of me, the other favourable. At some stage I realise it's the same person.

  7. robert3830 says:

    So often dreams seem to mean nothing: just a random collection of images thrown together rather like computer defragmentation.

  8. rajasree2227 says:

    Wonderful article. Really enjoyed reading.

  9. sadiya5672 says:


  10. caroline5274 says:

    Very interesting article. I dream every night and I have learned to know which ones are symbolic to me. X

  11. rajasree2227 says:

    So true, relate to every word.