From Wish to Reality: Practical Steps to Making Your Dreams Come True
*Photography by the lovely Meri Daugherty.
“A dream is a wish your heart makes.”
I know you just sang that in your mind, didn’t you? I love this song so much. Cinderella was one of my favorite movies to watch with my daughter when she was a little girl. It set the stage for teaching her to reach for her dreams. It taught the little girl in me to believe in impossible dreams. Yet, I have come to realize that a wish can remain just that. There are necessary steps we need to take in order for a dream to become a reality.
Walt Disney was the quintessential dreamer. His meager beginnings as failed experimenter turned film pioneer/mogul was fueled by the idea to never let naysayers stop the pursuit of his crazy dreams. His journey was hardly a smooth one. The trajectory from dream to reality rarely is. Take our beloved movie, Cinderella for instance. It was released in 1950 but it had undergone a few reboots beginning in 1922, long before their first movie, Snow White, was released in 1938. Walt Disney began his career right out of the military and straight into living out of his office, feasting on cold beans for meals. His first character, a rabbit, was stolen from him due to improper copywriting. Mickey Mouse was his breakthrough idea after spending late nights watching mice run through his office waste-basket.
Two decades of hard work and many films later, he still dreamed of more.
In the early 1950s, he mortgaged his life insurance, stock holdings, house and furniture to purchase an orange grove near Anaheim, California to finance the construction of a 185-acre amusement park. Disneyland opened in 1955 and quickly became one of the world's most popular tourist attractions. He looked at the empire he had built by the 1960’s and decided he was not finished. He then purchased 27,000 acres of Florida swamp land to begin a second amusement park, Disney World.
There are many lessons that can be learned from Walt Disney’s example of persistence and perseverance. How do you look at your dreams and aspirations? Do you have a particular dream you’ve kept in your heart and have not pursued? Achieving a dream is a process. Some people seem to have their dreams realized overnight, but that is rarely the case. There are many things that happen behind the scenes to see a dream come to pass. I’ve had dreams I’ve kept on the back-burner for years. There is an old proverb that says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” You can literally feel haunted before taking that first step toward making your dream a reality.
There are many reasons we don’t pursue our dreams.
Clarification of calling and direction, timing and season of life, can all be deterrents to accomplishing them. Some people don’t dare to dream and wait for confirmation from others. There are many that allow difficult circumstances to determine whether or not they pursue their dreams. Learn to use the pain of struggle as fuel for your dream. Let your challenges become a springboard.
When I was a little girl, I had dreams of performing. I loved to sing, dance and would have gone to acting lessons if I could have. One time, I tried out for the Broadway play, “Annie”. You know those stories that are revisited at every family gathering? This was one of them. I remember telling all my little girlfriends at school that day I was going to the city for an open audition. Everyone was super jealous. When I arrived, there were hundreds of little girls my age, all of them with professional headshots and management. I never had a chance. As the hours waiting in line ticked by, it became clear I was out of my league. Each pretty girl that went before me sounded better than the last. As it became my turn to climb the long staircase to the stage, I felt my heart would beat out of my chest. I stood there under the spotlights and a piano player began the refrain for the song, “Tomorrow”. I knew the lyrics but as I began to sing, the piano player came to a halt and I completely froze. My parents and siblings had waited hours for me to take my turn and I was a deer in headlights! I turned to him questioningly and he politely said, “Thank You...Next!”
I allowed that spirit-crushing moment in my young life to stop me from pursuing anything in the performing arts.
I sing in church, but even then, stage-fright grips me. Don’t get me wrong. I love to sing, but as Walt Disney’s journey shows, there can be many dreams in the course of your life. You can dream at any age. I always loved to read and write as a child. I remember that first novel in elementary school that made me realize, fantasy and imagination was magical. But for so long, I allowed never finishing college to define me. Self-worth and self-esteem can be a huge deterrent to fulfilling dreams. This year I turn 50. It’s a big, milestone birthday. I decided I would not allow anything to stop me any longer from pursuing my dreams in writing. I am finally taking steps and this article is proof that you can do anything you set your mind to.
One other side note. That little girl of mine I mentioned in the beginning, my daughter? She is now 21 years old. I cannot be more proud of who she has become. Truth be told, I may have lived vicariously through her at times. The main driving thought behind raising her was to teach her to never let anyone crush her dreams and to be an independent, free-thinker. She is an incredible artist. She began drawing at around 5 years old. I noticed her drawings were different than other kids. I took her to an art school that confirmed she had talent. Fast-forward to today and she is in her final year, completing her fine arts degree at The New School, Parsons in Manhattan. She had so many roadblocks along the way, from being partially and legally blind in one eye, to brain surgery. But, because we taught her that she could accomplish anything she set her mind to, she actually believes it.
I’ve listed some important keys in freeing yourself to go for your dreams.
1) Assessing risk in any venture is fine as long as you don’t let it stop you from starting.
There is truth in building on a firm foundation. A favorite story of mine goes; “Is there anyone who, planning to build a new house, that doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you saying, ‘They started something they couldn’t finish.’” I’m a great starter but terrible at finishing. It’s partly due to not mapping out a plan. Marie Forleo, entrepreneur, writer and philanthropist spent several years working many side jobs to fund her dream while she learned all about her field. Preparation for your dream can give you confidence to begin.
2) Fear of failure is a big dream stopper.
Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” While Marie Forleo believes in preparation she also says, “Start before you are ready. Training our minds to think we can instead of thinking we can’t is important. Assess your heart to see whether or not you believe in yourself. Insecurity and self-doubt doesn’t go away. Do it afraid.” Learning to live freely as who you were always meant to be leads to courage which leads to hope which leads to freedom to act.
3) Create a plan.
“Overwhelm” is a real thing. Thinking about a big dream can be intimidating. I love the saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Walt Disney also said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” Success comes from prioritizing and following a strategy. Become a self-starter and learn to motivate yourself. Focus on taking one day at time. Define your goals and keep in a physical planner. It helps track progress. Imagine where you want to be in 5 years. Then, write a plan backwards from that big goal, breaking it down into monthly, weekly and daily goals. Ask yourself, “What do I absolutely need to do this week to move towards my dream? What can I do today to move me one step closer?” Create a path that will get you there. This is where to start!
4) The act of writing our dreams down allows us to own them and then act on them.
Learning to trust your own inner voice is an essential tool in fulfilling your dreams. We all have a unique story all our own. Passions can point the way. Finding out how you are wired and discovering your identity are huge parts of discovering what your dream may be. Think of the dreams you had as a child. These can be clues into discovering your calling and path.
5) Making space for dreaming is important.
Carve out time in your schedule to just sit and think. I create a Vision Board at the beginning of the year. I put it up in my bedroom so I can see it every day. It motivates me to take the daily action steps needed to fulfill my yearly goals. It’s a visual that really makes a big impact. It helps assess where you are throughout the year in accomplishing your goals. Starting here helps with monthly, weekly and daily goal setting. Prioritizing is one of the most important ways to keeping you on track.
6) Realize that it will take hard work because anything worth having doesn’t come easy.
Forgive yourself when you fail then keep moving forward. Keeping your values and remaining true to who you are throughout the journey will help you stay focused. Surrounding yourself with people that will support and motivate you is very important. When you have people cheering for you and can support your passion, you thrive. Negativity and naysayers are draining and can slow your progress toward fulfilling your dream.
Wishing for a particular future can be the first steps to turning a dream into a reality.
What are the dreams you have kept hidden in your heart? When you realize that you have purpose and a calling that involves your giftings to fulfill that purpose, that’s just the beginning. It’s exciting to see what you can accomplish when you decide and choose to follow your heart.
“A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes”
-Cinderella, Walt Disney Records
A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you're fast asleep
In dreams you will lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep
Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling through
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
The dream that you wish will come true
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Camille McIntyre is a writer and church planter. She and her husband, Tim have been the founding pastors of Oasis Christian Church for 15 years. She is passionate about helping women grow through personal development.
Camille created the blog, “Because She Chose” and the YouTube Channel, “Coffee Shop Conversations” to share stories of inspirational women. She believes choices are an important part of what makes our stories so powerful. Her superpower is her ability to turn the mundane moments in life into foundational cornerstones. Camille and Tim, native New Yorkers, live on Staten Island with their adult children, Ellie, Andy and Aaron.