How to Make Dreams Come True
This week, my husband resigned from his job of 12 years at Amazon.
It reminded me of the emotional ride shortly after I left the comforts of my corporate job, 4 years ago. The emotional struggle was mostly in my head and it whispered words of fear to me, and convincing arguments of why I would fail.
This time around is no different. Perhaps, that sense of fear and uncertainty is further heightened by the fact that we have a son, and both of us will be without the comfort and security of a “real” job to catch us if we fail.
For the first time, no one will pay our benefits, no one will cover the high health insurance premiums and no one will send us guaranteed paychecks every month.
For the first time, we are on our own. Completely.
It’s a scary feeling.
It feels a little like skydiving out of a plane. You experience fear because while you know that you will most likely be okay, there is that chance that your parachute won’t open. And if it doesn’t, you will die.
But on the other hand the experience has been exhilarating. For the first time, Jeremy experienced total freedom—away from a situation from which he had fallen out of love.
For the first time, we are no longer tied to any one city (or country) and can move around as we please. For the first time, our time belongs to us. All of it!
Also for the first time, I have a business partner who spends 100% of his time working alongside me in building a business we can call our own.
It really has been exciting. Just the act of coming to work together and sharing meal breaks with my best friend makes my heart smile.
Dreams Do Come True
“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream.
The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg;
and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs.
Dreams are the seedlings of realities.”
~James Allen, from As a Man Thinketh
I’m a strong believer that dreams do not come true by accident. In my case, every bit of my dream that came true was the result of deliberate and proactive intention. Sorry if this sounds cliché, but from my experience, it’s been true.
If there is something that you want that differs from what you currently have, there is only one way to get it. It all starts with a dream… a vision that becomes more and more clear with time and repetition.
The point of today’s article is about dreams—the importance of having them, and why you should never stop dreaming.
Photo by JUCO
My dream in 2004 was to quit my job and become location independent. I worked long hours in creating various side businesses that either failed or didn’t stick, until I created this blog in late 2007. Then in 2008, the small income from this blog gave me the confidence to leave my day job.
My other dream was to get married and have a family before I turned 30. A little odd to be that specific, I know. But this too came true. Not only that, but my husband had the exact qualities that I had dreamed about. And he literally showed up in my life out of nowhere. Soon we were married, and 4 months before I turned 30, I gave birth to a little miracle named Ryan.
Even though this blog generated some income, it wasn’t enough to support a family. We relied heavily on Jeremy’s job for security.
So we started dreaming again. This time, our dream was one where Jeremy and I are working together and for ourselves. We also dreamed that we’d be living somewhere warm with palm trees and sunshine.
If you were on the TSN Insider newsletter, you may recall the email from me last year frustrated with trying to make my online business work. After 3 years of working at it, I had little to show for it. I was debating openly that perhaps I should go back to my corporate job.
Luckily I didn’t.
The gift from hitting rock bottom mentally is that you get extremely focused and clear with where you want to go.
When you’re at the bottom, you have nowhere to go but up. You become so fed up with how you don’t want to feel that you become extra motivated to change.
In a stroke of clarity, I took the business in a different direction and it started to work in my favor in just a few short weeks.
After 4 years of trying to make it work, one small shift in thinking and doing has allowed it to work for me. A few months later, fast-forward to now, when I’d proven that my ideas can support our family, Jeremy turned in his notice. Thus began the coming true of another dream, which seemed impossible just one year ago.
Dreams do come true.
What I’ve Learned
Photo by Miss Aniela
While the topic is fresh on my mind, I wanted to document and share with you what I’ve learned. I think the lessons aren’t just for people wanting to leave their jobs or just for entrepreneurs (though, they will help). The lessons are applicable to the realization of any goal, desire or vision.
I use the term ‘dream’ loosely. When I refer to dreams, I’m referring to a goal or specifically a vision of a situation you would like to experience. It can be anything that is important to you: writing a book, having a family, traveling the world, becoming wealthy, or doing fulfilling work.
It can be anything, really. You are the writer and creator of your dreams. Actually, you are the only person in the world who is qualified to do this job.
Okay, let’s dive into the lessons:
1. The Dreaming Habit
Keep dreaming. And get specific with the details of the vision. Think about it often. See it in your mind’s eye clearly. Live it in your imagination.
I know the reality of your dream may seem impossible from where you currently stand, but please don’t let that stop you from dreaming.
Your dreams and visions are the seeds of extraordinary change and miracles for years to come.
Our natural tendency is the desire to not get specific or even to allow our selves to dream. We do this out of fear of disappointing ourselves when our dreams don’t come true.
Actually, we are usually convinced that they won’t come true, and so we procrastinate instead of taking action in realization of a dream.
The procrastination starts with the mental resistance to get specific with what we want. I know because this is what I experience. Even now, I go through the same mental struggles and resistance when I spawn off a new dream.
Knowing this about my mind allows me to anticipate the resistance and to keep going despite resistance.
If you can, I recommend writing your dreams down in a journal or notebook—a “dream book”. Then get as specific as you possibly can about this dream or vision or desire. Write a whole page or more describing the details.
Remember to date the pages. I flipped through one of my journals recently, and accidentally saw a dream I had written about from a year ago. I had forgotten about it. And that particular goal had come true a few months ago. Again, I had forgotten about it.
Seeing that page, unexpectedly, brought so much joy that I cried. So date your pages. :)
Dreams not only give us hope. More importantly, they give us direction. This is important, because without a target, how will we know when we’ve arrived? How will we know which direction to even move towards?
It doesn’t matter how bad things are or how far fetched the dream appears compared to where you are right now, never stop dreaming, okay?
2. Take the Next Step
Photo by Vanessa Paxton
Regardless of how far your dream is compared to where you currently stand, there is always, ALWAYS, a logical next step that you can take. That step may be a baby step, but still one step closer in the direction of your dreams.
Quickly decide what that next logical step is? Then do everything within your power to get it done. And then repeat.
You don’t have to know all of the exact steps to get to your dreams. All you need right now is the next few steps. Even if the steps are wrong, that’s okay, taking any step is better than standing still.
With every step you take, you’ll make mistakes and then you’ll learn. With each lesson, you’ll adjust your path and keep going toward the dream until eventually you will arrive at your destination.
It’s like driving from New York to LA. All you can see is the road in front of you. All you can see are the next several feet in your route toward the west. This is all you need. You’re job is to follow that road and periodically re-adjust towards west.
So, what is your next logical step? Do it!
Schedule it into your calendar and get it done. Get help. Whatever it takes. Get it done.
Remember to keep it simple and to keep it small. If the next step will take additional steps, break it down further and take the next small piece as your next action.
For example, “Starting a business” is too broad for a next step. Break it down further. If you want to start a business, what are some smaller logical next steps? Perhaps brainstorming services or products you can offer with your existing experience and skills.
Normally, we tend to make things more difficult than necessary by conjuring up this big roadblock in our mind. We hold ourselves back out of fear—the fear of change, and the fear of failure. So we never get to take the next action step.
We fear planning the next logical step because we don’t want to be wrong.
We fear actually taking the next step, because we are scared of the unknown. We delay by trying to perfect a trivial step in the process, and then we never launch it. Or we get lazy and rely on the comforts of a convenient excuse for why we haven’t taken action.
I know, because I struggle with all of these. And I still struggle with all of these on a regularly basis.
Despite our natural resistance towards taking the next logical step of action, it becomes easier with each step you take. With each step, you create momentum to take more steps.
3. Fear Is My Friend
Photo by JUCO
There really is no hiding from fear. Actually, the only solution to overcoming fear is doing that thing which you fear. That’s it.
Fear comes with change. It is natural and hardwired into our nervous system. Since the realization of a dream always require change, fear is inevitable.
Instead of working against fear—since it will be there anyway—use fear as a dear friend to cheer you on.
Fear can be a powerful motivator, you know? Instead of trying to eliminate fear by pretending it doesn’t exist. Let’s work with it. Embrace it as a tool in making your dreams come true and calming it by taking smart and intelligent action.
Because of fear, I learned to make better financial decisions. Instead of quitting a job and hoping that things will just work out, we saved like crazy, made conservative and calculated and timely financial investments, and only left a job when we had plan B and C in place.
Knowing that we are on our own now, there is a natural fear that if we fail we have nothing to fall back on. This fear has been an effective motivator for us. Basically, we HAVE to succeed. There is no other choice. Thanks to fear, this one thought has kept me rooted in reality and remaining intensely focused.
From this focused and heightened state of clarity, I’ve experienced a personal peak in productivity and at the same time having fun at work. Each morning, I can’t wait to jump out of bed and get to work. On weekends, I actually look forward to Monday instead of dreading it.
Because of fear, my relationship with work has become a game that has been immensely fulfilling and deeply transformational.
I’ve always heard that Fear can be your friend. But now, I finally get it. It really can.
4. Embrace Failure
“In learning, failure is not an option. It’s a necessity.”
Failure when doing something new is expected. Without it, how will you learn? How does a baby learn to walk without falling?
Here’s another quote, “Good decisions come from experience. And experience comes from bad decisions.”
Massive success rarely happens overnight. Success usually rides on the cumulative efforts of hard work, and learning from the person over a period of time. But we rarely see this unsexy side of doing grunt work.
We see the stories of overnight success and become discouraged when our own projects start off unsuccessful. And then we give up, way too early.
Did you know that the guys who made (the wildly successful game) Angry Birds made 51 other games before succeeding?
While I’m still a work in progress, it took me 8 years of constantly trying different businesses until I finally found an angle that worked for me.
Looking back, what I regret now is not taking bolder strides earlier and making mistakes faster. Had I failed at a faster rate earlier on, I would have arrived much faster.
You’ll make mistakes. There will be a period of struggle. But know that it’s all part of the process. Failure is the secret to success.
Instead of letting failure beat you down, you get up each time you fall, dust yourself off, take note of the lesson and you keep trying.
The baseball analogy is that regardless of how many times you strike out, when you take enough swings, sooner or later you’ll hit a homerun. That’s just the way it goes.
And as a side note, my experience has been that every negative experience has an equally positive angle or lesson, even though we may not recognize it immediately.
Knowing this has made it easier to keep going when the going gets tough. When the s— hits the fan, I look for the positive, the lesson, the gift. It is always there.
Photo by JUCO
So what it is that you are dreaming about? Think about it. Now write it out in detail. Just this one exercise will bring you tremendous joy.
Create a regular routine of reviewing your dreams and/or revising your dreams by re-writing them with new details.
Find a notebook that makes you feel good, so that the habit of dreaming and writing down your dreams actually makes you feel good. I went as far as putting together “my dream book” with this swanky mini binder (+ divider and paper).
And I write in it as an intimate personal project. It’s fun to do and makes me feel amazing! Between doing that and writing to you, I’ve got my own slice of heaven. Simple bliss.
I want you to know and to remember that there are endless possibilities in every moment.
And in this moment, there lies opportunities of abundance and openings for miracles. It’s all around us. It’s all here.
So, what is it that you want? What are you dreaming about?
* I would love to savor this moment with you. Please share with me in the comment section of the blog (below) your dreams and visions. Tell me, even if you think its silly. I can’t wait to read it!
* * Did you like this topic? If you’re curious to see the exact steps I use for planning projects and designing my life such that dreams do come true, check out my in depth guide on the topic: Discover You Now. Until July 15, 2012, you can get the guide at 50% Off plus money back guarantee (You’ve got nothing to lose). Check here to learn more.