“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
- Henry David Thoreau
Everything we desire starts with a dream; a vision that will clarify and materialise with time through deliberate and proactive action. It is this interaction between dreams and reality that helps us achieve our goals.
I use the term "dream" to describe a future goal or something meaningful. It can be anything that is important to us: writing a book, building a family, travelling the world, becoming rich, or developing a rewarding career. We are the writer, director and creator of our dreams.
But how do we turn a dream into a reality?
I believe a starting point is to be specific about our dream, and to clarify our vision of success. To do this is to clearly see our dream in our mind's eye, and to live the dream in our imagination. By using our imagination, we are able to plan, predict, organise, and develop a strategy that supports our dreams. We need to see ourselves living our dream, stimulating the feelings that may result when we achieve our dream. What does this change in our lives and the lives of those around us? Who will benefit? What emotional return will we gain? Answering these type of questions will give us an idea of the direction to take. This is important because, without a target, we are unable to know the how and where.
Success rarely comes on a silver platter though. Success is typically constructed through cumulative efforts of hard work, forged over time. Regardless of how far we can see our dream, there is always, always, a next logical step that should be taken. Not a big step, but a small step. Once we know what this is, we should do everything in our power to action it. And then repeat.
With each step we will probably make mistakes. These errors are also the way to success. They allow us to notice and consider alternatives to get where we want. With each lesson, we can adjust our path and keep going towards our dream, to eventually reach its destination.
However, sometimes we are confronted with self-imposed obstacles along the way. Take fear, as an example.
Fear can arise whenever we propose a change or a change is imposed on us. It is natural for our nervous system to react to the perception of threat, even if it is not a physical threat. Since the realisation of a dream always requires an element of change, it is likely to trigger some kind of fear. And while fear isn't a bad thing, it often paralyses us, separating us from our dreams. That is why the only way to overcome fear is to find a strategy to face it head-on.
Instead of working against our fears, we should try to use it to our advantage. Fear can be a powerful motivator. Instead of trying to eliminate fear, pretending it does not exist, and, in turn, avoiding our next steps, we should embrace it as a tool in decision making by taking smart measures.
Another obstacle that is inevitable during the course of our life is failure. One of the most elementary forms of learning is through trial and error. Failing is part of a successful process. Part of our failures in life is the secret to success. We should not let our failures put us down. Each time we fall, we should get up, dust ourselves off, take note of the lesson, and keep trying. If we look carefully, we might find the answer that we are looking for.
It is almost poetic to say that one should live a life full of dreams. And I agree with this statement. However, we should not abandon the idea of the process needed to achieve our dreams. We should remind ourselves that success is always a result of focused effort, patient determination, and stretched personal boundaries.
May you aspire to keep dreaming... have the courage to pursue them... and live the glorious life that you rightfully deserve.