Making Dreams Come True: Are dreams just for fairy tales?

As I venture down the path of my life, I have to wonder if we really can make our dreams come true. How much of life is luck, fate, and serendipity?

Perhaps some of life is luck: being in the right place in the right time, writing the right book at the right time, meeting the man or woman of your dreams when you’re both in the right place in life. Well, when it comes to writing books, I think if the book is good enough, it’s always the right time. Fads—vampires, zombies, tropical settings, or yoga—will come and go, but if a book has heart, it will find its place in the world. Because love, death, grief, sadness, redemption, passion, healing—those things never go out of style; life is always full of them. When our books have heart, they will find their place. I believe that.

So how much of life is luck and how much is hard work? There are musicians with extraordinary talent who haven’t won Grammies or signed deals with major record labels. In my hometown, I met a musician named Rachel whose voice could haunt you or move you to tears, it was so beautiful. And she didn’t just have talent, she also had an incredible heart. Rachel was one of those people with a contagious vibrancy. You couldn’t help but be happy around her. Rachel happily taught drum circles at the local heritage center and performed in small coffee houses. She’d found her calling, her heart, her dream. She ran a small nonprofit for disabled children. I didn’t know her very well, but she seemed to be as much of a fulfilled, self-actualized human being as one can be. I was young when I met her, a college student, and she inspired me. Growing up, I didn’t know any artists, but I knew I wanted to be one. Meeting her helped me become a better writer and a better person.

One thing we rarely say in our driven, ambitious, workaholic society is that it’s okay to not want to be the next biggest thing. In the last few months, I’ve started to step back and realize that I don’t want to work three jobs and eighty hours a week. Even if I love everything I do, doing all of it is killing my health. It’s okay to not be Wonder Woman. That’s a lesson I’m still learning. Saying no and toning down my nonstop activity don’t come easily to me, but I’ll keep trying. I am soooo far from perfect. And I kinda like the freedom to make mistakes, even if I don’t like actually making mistakes.

I do believe that dreams come true, as long as they’re realistic ones. At five-foot, I’ll never be a basketball player. Even if I were taller, I have no athletic talent to speak of (a video of me playing tennis could easily become a YouTube sensation). We all have limitations. There are some dreams we can make come true (penning a memoir) and some that are beyond our ability to accomplish (marrying a prince). Some things, like winning the lotto, are just luck. Many are not.

I believe if we want to be published authors or make a living selling our paintings or direct a documentary or design websites or whatever our hearts desire, we can get there. Maybe not right away. It might take five or 10 or 20 years. We might have to take detours. Life gets in the way.

Dreams, if they’re achievable, can be achieved, but we have to set goals and work toward them. We’ll never get a job in marketing if we don’t apply. And we might apply for a hundred jobs before we get one answering the phones for a marketing director. Our first novel, our opus, might be rejected 40 times. It might never sell. It might sell 200 copies. But there are other stories to tell. It’s a long road. At the end, it won’t look like what we thought it would. Real dreams change along the way.

I’ve wanted to be a published author for as long as I can remember. Ten years ago, it was a distant dream. Today, it’s closer. I work toward it every day. I’m determined to make it happen. I believe in making our dreams come true.

What are your dreams? What goals are helping you to make your dreams come true? What dreams have you made come true, and how did you make those dreams a reality?

8 thoughts on “Making Dreams Come True: Are dreams just for fairy tales?

  1. You will be a published author, Janelle. The business is always in a state of change, but these days there are more options than ever for writers to become published. Now selling books to readers who love them is another whole set of dreams….Nice post. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks, Diane. Yes, it’s amazing how many changes the publishing industry has undergone in the last few years. Those changes are a bit scary at times, but the fact that we have more options is always a good thing. For me, it’s all about connecting with people who love books. I want to write books that inspire people–sort of a way of paying it forward in honor of the people whose stories inspire me. 🙂

  2. They say it takes 10 years of hardwork to become and overnight success (or 10,000 hours/a million words).

    The harder you work the luckier you get.

    My dreams: writing for a living, paying for my children’s post-secondary education fully so they come out with no student loans and fixing up houses for as a side job.

    • Those are wonderful aspirations. 🙂 Definitely achievable. And I love working on houses! I hope you blog about that some day. I think I come across as a girly-girl sometimes, but I really love putting on a tool belt and laying tile or painting. Do you plan on doing electrical/plumbing stuff, too? I don’t have the technical skills/know-how; I just had to call in the pros when it came to those things.

      I’ve heard the 10 years/10,000 hours saying before. I think that luck might be part of it, but you have to put yourself in luck’s path. If you spend 10,000 hours walking down the path, perhaps you drastically increase your odds of crossing paths with luck. (I hope that analogy works. I’m not fully caffeinated yet, LOL.) Thanks! Have a beautiful day!

  3. Janelle, great post. As another WANNA1011, I have been thinking a lot about my goals etc. In 2009, was downsized from the company with which I had been happily associated for 15 years. It was a blessing because it gave me the opportunity to begin teaching on-line university classes and creative writing classes, establishing my on-line business and focus on my writing. After ten years of on-again, off-again work, I published my first novel and am working on my second ((due out in early 2012) and third (hopefully finished and published in late 2012).

    I’ve downsized and simplified my life and focused on what is most important to me.

    My dreams: Continuing to write and publish my Brands Crossing Series (and other books), teach on-line university classes and creative writing classes, support myself with my on-line businesses, sell my needlework, and enjoy my life with family, friends and pets.

    • Sharon, one of my favorite quotes is from Henry David Thoreau: “Our lives are frittered away by detail. Simplify! Simplify!” In the past few years, my life has gotten more, not less, complicated; still, I can’t help but see Thoreau’s point. Simplifying life and focusing on what’s truly important sets us on the path toward our dreams. Thanks for reminding me of that. When our energy is scattered, we can’t focus on what really matters, nor can we see the big picture. We just get lost. Thanks! Best of luck achieving your dreams. 🙂

  4. I believe that if our dreams include the journey and we’re willing to work hard and persevere, we’ll meet them. (In other words, writers’ dreams should include writing, not just “NY Best-Seller,” a certain amount of money, etc.)

    One of the best gifts my parents gave me and my siblings was permission and encouragement to follow our heart’s desires. We’re all living our dreams now. Thanks for the insightful post, Janelle!

    • Yes, the journey is the best part! I’ve helped with writing mission statements for organizations, and one of the keys is that a mission statement has to be flexible. It’s a good approach for our dreams, too. Our writing goals will change over time, whether it’s the frequency at which we publish, the publishing venue, our genre, our artistic approach, etc. Dreams, like mission statements, have to adapt if we’re ever going to make them come true!

      It’s great that your parents encouraged you to follow your dreams and your passions. Mine always told me I could do anything I set my mind to. They taught me to dream big, and I don’t think I’d be a writer today without that encouragement. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s